Laurent Mekies, the Racing Director at Scuderia Ferrari, felt it was a ‘satisfactory’ performance by the Italian team during Qualifying for the French Grand Prix on Saturday, with Carlos Sainz Jr. and Charles Leclerc set to start fifth and seventh respectively on Sunday.
Mekies and the rest of the team knew they were unlikely to be able to contend for a third consecutive pole position at the Circuit Paul Ricard, with the French track a much different proposition to that of the Monaco or Azerbaijan Grand Prix, which were both on street circuits.
However, it was pleasing for Mekies to see the team being the best of the rest behind Red Bull Racing and the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team around a track that they did not feel would play to the strengths of their SF21.
“All in all, it was a satisfactory qualifying,” said Mekies. “We came here knowing that the hierarchy would be different to that seen at the two unusual tracks in Monaco and Baku and that the characteristics of the Paul Ricard circuit would not be ideally suited to our SF21.
“But once again, we were able to demonstrate that we are the best of those teams directly behind the two that are fighting for the championship. Furthermore, as in the three previous qualifying sessions, we got both our cars ahead of our direct rivals.
“Carlos is having a great weekend, showing that he is making progress, and his qualifying performance was really good. Charles couldn’t get the right feel for his car, especially the front end, but on his final run, he still managed to get close to the third row that could have been within his reach.”
Mekies admits Ferrari’s race pace has not been as strong as they would have liked so far in 2021, but he knows everyone will be giving it their all on Sunday to give the team the best possible result.
“Tomorrow’s race will be long and difficult, with tyre behaviour playing a crucial role,” said Mekies. “On this front, the top ten are all starting on the same compound so we will be fighting on equal terms.
“We know our race pace is not as good as we would like at the moment, but we will prepare well tonight and tomorrow and will continue to do so over the coming weeks, in order to give our drivers an ever more competitive package.”