Despite an issue with his throttle in the opening session, Charles Leclerc was feeling positive after Friday’s running at the Circuit of the Americas, with the Monegasque racer ending the day second fastest in the afternoon’s running.
Around a very bumpy track, the Scuderia Ferrari driver lost more than half an hour of track time in the morning as the mechanics solved an issue with his throttle, caused by the two-time race winner hitting one of the many big bumps around the circuit.
Leclerc, as well as Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel, were able to get some running on Pirelli’s 2020 development tyres during the session, with the former’s best lap of the session coming on those tyres as a better lap on the 2019 rubber was deleted due to exceeding track limits. He was in a much better place in the afternoon as he finished second fastest to Lewis Hamilton.
“Overall, I think it was a positive day,” reflected Leclerc. “Despite the setback I had in FP1, where my fastest lap was deleted and I had an issue with the throttle, the car felt good, especially in the qualifying runs.
“The track was bumpy, something that is a bit unusual in Formula 1, but we will adapt to it over the weekend.”
Relatively happy with the pace of the car in Qualifying trim, Leclerc feels there is some work to do to improve it over longer runs, with Saturday’s running vitally important to bring them into contention for the race victory.
“We still have some work to do to improve our race pace and our competitors have turned out to be quite strong in that department today, so we will see where we stand tomorrow and take it from there,” said Leclerc.
Team-mate Vettel was happy to return to the Circuit of the Americas, even if the track itself is not in the best condition, with the bumps causing the German to suffer a spin in the afternoon session. He does not believe there is anything that can be done this weekend to improve the track, so everyone will have to deal with it as it is.
“It is always good fun here in Austin,” said Vettel. “The track is not in the best shape because of its bumps. But it is what it is and that makes it a bit special and more tricky for us.
“But I don’t think they can do anything to fix it now.”
Vettel ended the morning session second fastest but slipped to fourth in the afternoon, more than six-and-a-half tenths of a second adrift of pacesetter Hamilton, but like team-mate Leclerc, he feels there is still some work to do to improve the driveability of his Ferrari in race conditions.
“The car was good to start with, which is positive, but then we tried some things that did not seem to work so well,” said the German. “But we understand what we need to do so, hopefully for tomorrow we can improve in terms of our one lap pace. But I think that in race trim we have a bit more to do.
“We know our strengths and weaknesses and in quali trim, we can mask the weaknesses a bit, whereas that is harder for us to do in race configuration. All the same, I’m quite confident we can improve the car. We will focus on that and see what we can achieve.”