McLaren F1 Team‘s Carlos Sainz Jr. says the performance of the Pirelli tyres at the Circuit Paul Ricard was the first question mark for the team during Friday practice for the French Grand Prix, as the Spanish driver felt all three compounds performed very differently to one another in the hot conditions.
Both Sainz and team-mate Lando Norris produced solid pace throughout the opening day at France, with both drivers acting as ‘the best of the rest’, and even surpassing the pace of Red Bull Racing in Free Practice 2 as Sainz beat Pierre Gasly, whilst Norris was fastest out of the two teams with the fifth best time of the session.
Sainz set the eighth and seventh best time in Friday, showing potential for Saturday and in Qualifying. The Spaniard’s programme in practice was testing some experimental set-ups. Despite the tests, Sainz was still able to record consistent pace and promising lap times.
Reflecting on his Friday, Sainz spoke about the tyres and how each compound felt very different during the hot sessions in the south of France.
“An interesting day overall with a lot of testing. I think the first question mark was the tyre performance today, as it was quite different to other races and a very different feeling across all three compounds,” said Sainz.
“I’ve been testing some experimental things today and they don’t always work to perfection. However, I was still P8, so it shows we have potential for tomorrow.”
Both Sainz and Norris ran different set-ups over the course of the day but still managed to produce similar pace, setting a promising performance for qualifying.
With one last practice session left, McLaren plan to revert back to the normal set-up for the Spaniard and use the data taken from Norris’ car to try and produce a strong car for qualifying and for the race.
“Running very different set-ups compared to the other car means we have gathered a lot of valuable data for the future.
“Tomorrow we’ll go back to more normal settings, take things that we’ve learned today from Lando’s car, and hopefully have a strong quali for the team.”