Charles Leclerc admitted it was another difficult day for Scuderia Ferrari on Friday at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, although he felt positive about the pace of the SF1000 in Qualifying trim.
The Monegasque racer ended the morning session just outside the top ten in eleventh, but he found some more speed in the afternoon to move up to ninth, but it was on the longer runs where Ferrari were struggling more.
Leclerc says it is important for the team to find good pace in both low and high-fuel conditions, so it will be important to work on the set-up for the longer runs on Saturday morning in a bid to have a more competitive race day than they did last weekend at Spa-Francorchamps.
“It was a difficult day,” said Leclerc. “On the one hand, we were positively surprised by our qualifying pace, on the other, we expected to do a bit better on the high fuel runs, so we need to find something to improve our race pace.
“The car was very difficult to drive in race trim, where we struggled quite a bit with the balance and the overall degradation of the tyres.
“Our target is to be as competitive as possible in both fuel conditions. I don’t think that we can expect much more for qualifying than what we’ve shown today, but I believe there’s still room for improvement on our race pace.”
“The car was quite difficult to drive but it’s not the first time this year” – Sebastian Vettel
Team-mate Sebastian Vettel was in agreement that the car was difficult to drive on Friday, particularly on the heavier fuel runs, so there is work to do overnight for them to solve those issues.
The German ended a lowly nineteenth in the morning session, finishing behind Williams Racing’s test driver Roy Nissany, but he improved to finish twelfth in the afternoon session.
Vettel expects Ferrari to be amongst the ‘big pack of cars’ fighting for a place inside the top ten, with hundredths of a second likely to be the difference between advancing into Q3 and being eliminated.
“Today we used the time to work on the SF1000 in order to be in a better place tomorrow,” said Vettel. “The car was quite difficult to drive but it’s not the first time this year. As expected, we are losing out down the straight, but we also have to work on the balance to have a better performance in sector two.
“Also, on heavy fuel the car is not easy to drive, partly because we have to run with set tyre pressures. I think there will be a big pack of cars fighting to the hundredths in quali and I can image it will be quite similar in the race. It will definitely be complicated.”