Charles Leclerc says that Scuderia Ferrari has yet to find the full potential of its 2019 Formula 1 car, despite leading both Friday Free Practice sessions at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
Leclerc topped the aborted Free Practice 1 session, with team-mate Sebastian Vettel the only other man to set a timed lap, before continuing his pace in the more representative Free Practice 2 session in the afternoon.
The Monégasque driver held an advantage of 0.324 seconds over Vettel, with the Mercedes AMG Motorsport car of reigning champion Lewis Hamilton a further 0.345s behind Vettel in third.
Mercedes looked to have had better long run pace when compared to Ferrari, but Leclerc said that it is difficult to understand the order with multiple stoppages and heavy traffic around the Baku City Circuit.
“After a day like today, it’s difficult to get a clear picture of where we all stand, especially in terms of long run pace, when I think traffic was a factor,” said Leclerc.
“In qualifying trim, I felt comfortable, but also in this aspect, we will have to wait until tomorrow to get a clearer picture.”
Ferrari has brought upgrades to the Azeri capital for the SF90, after a relatively disappointing start to the ’19 campaign.
The Italian team is still searching for a first win of the season, with a likely Leclerc victory stopped by a cylinder failure in Bahrain two rounds’ ago, leaving Mercedes to take the second of its three 1-2 finishes this year.
Leclerc admitted that Ferrari still has “quite a bit of work” to undergo before it can get on top of its package, but believes that, if successful, it can be more than a match for Mercedes.
“However, we still have quite a bit of work to do to get the maximum out of the car and that’s what we will concentrate on in the final Free Practice session [on Saturday morning],” he added.
“If we manage that, then we can be competitive.”