[Rassegna stampa] – The sensations of the tests this time were respected. It was assumed a Red Bull in front, a Ferrari first pursuer and a Mercedes perhaps in difficulty. The first two free practice sessions in Bahrain confirmed these trends for the top three teams. Even if, at least looking at the times table, the feeling is that more than with Red Bull the challenge of Maranello is above all with the reigning world champion: Max Verstappen. He closed the evening free practice session in front of everyone, the most important given that it was held at the same time of qualifying and race. Perez, on the other hand, was slow to finish, giving the idea – as had happened on several occasions also last year – of not feeling the car completely about him.
The Dutch # 1 had closed 2021 by winning the duel with Lewis Hamilton at the last breath. This season he starts from another head to head, this time no longer generational. After a life spent giving himself doors in karts and having already given some spectacular skirmishes in F1 in fact, the impression he leaves on Friday at Sakhir is that everything is ready for a new world championship duel: this time the Red Bull star is opposed the peer Charles Leclerc. The Monegasque was the only one to come close, down to a few thousandths, to the time of the native of Hasselt. The Italian press, which has long been waiting for such a competitive Ferrari, did not miss the opportunity to outline the features of what could become a spectacular 23 GP long challenge.
Daniele Sparisci writes in Corriere della Sera: “[…] from under the anti-Covid mask on Charles Leclerc’s face appears a smile that takes you back in time. To 2019 when, right here, in his second race with the Cavallino, he took pole (and he did not win only for a breakdown) […]. This time the Monegasque gave Red Bull ahead, and so it was on the first Friday of the World Championship. But it is not taken for granted that today, in qualifying, the hierarchies will be the same. Max and Charles, rivals already on karts, separated by just 87 thousandths, very close rhythms even in race simulations. […]. However, Ferrari can play the second card, with Carlos Sainz […] however able to easily achieve the third time trial. But above all, the Red can drop the wild card of an engine that scares the competition, Sakhir is a track sensitive to power […]”.
Stefano Mancini echoes him in La Stampa: “The conditions were right and the promises were fulfilled: Ferrari has overtaken Mercedes and is within the blink of an eye from the Red Bull of world champion Max Verstappen. Free practice for the Bahraini Grand Prix was enough to confirm the narrative of a once again uncertain and hard-fought championship. «The smile you see on our faces depends on the reliability of the machine», Charles Leclerc tries to lie. But it is not for the reliability that closed the first comparison at 87 thousandths behind Red Bull: it is for the performance, for the speed in the winding sections, for the absence of hopping, for the engine for the ease of driving and adjustment. […]“.