Charles Leclerc finished an encouraging third fastest in the first practice session for the Tuscan Grand Prix on Friday, but the Monegasque driver reckons the second session, in which he finished tenth, was more representative of where Scuderia Ferrari are this weekend.
Leclerc finished just three-tenths of a second down on pacesetter Valtteri Bottas in the morning session, but whereas the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team racer was able to improve by almost eight-tenths of a second in the afternoon, the Ferrari driver actually went slower than he had managed earlier in the day.
Despite his honest opinion on Ferrari’s potential this weekend, Leclerc was full of praise for the Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello circuit, even though he is expecting a physical challenge on race day on Sunday, which will be the team’s 1000th Grand Prix.
“Driving an F1 car around this circuit is unbelievable,” said Leclerc. “In all the fast sections it’s pretty impressive.
“I think it’s going to be quite a tough race, physically, as already in the long run we’ve done in FP2 the neck starts to feel it! The lack of run-off areas will also make it difficult, but I guess this is what we like as well.
“The first session went well but maybe where we ended up in the second one is a more realistic picture, when we struggled a bit on the hard tyre.
“We also need to work on the balance, as we are not really there yet. It’s all very close but I think we can make a positive step tomorrow. I am optimistic.”
Vettel Unhappy with Balance of his SF1000 after Friday at Mugello
Team-mate Sebastian Vettel again ended both sessions behind Leclerc, with the German ending thirteenth in the morning and twelfth in the afternoon. His afternoon’s running was ended prematurely with an electrical fault, although it was quickly fixed when the car was returned to the garage.
Vettel, who was announced as an Aston Martin Racing driver for 2021 earlier this week, agreed with his team-mate about how enjoyable the track is to drive, even if it is ‘brutal’ on the tyres.
“It was an interesting day,” said Vettel. “Mugello is a very nice track which is very enjoyable for the driver, even if it is quite brutal on tyres. I’m still not happy with the balance of the car.
“We are working on it and there’s still plenty to do, but it is Friday, and this is what Fridays are for. I think that there’s the potential to find a better set-up on the car and that we will find some small things. I’m confident we can improve it for qualifying.”