Charles Leclerc says Scuderia Ferrari will be looking to improve on their long run pace during Saturday mornings final free practice session at the Circuit Zandvoort, with the short run speed already looking promising for the Maranello-based team.
The Monegasque racer started the Dutch Grand Prix weekend with the fourth fastest time in the morning session before he took top spot in the afternoon, with Leclerc the only driver to dip beneath the seventy-one second barrier across the day.
Having enjoyed running around the Zandvoort track, including the new banking on three of the turns, Leclerc says there is potential this weekend for a strong result, but he remains cautious that some of the main competitors have yet to show their hand.
“I think there is still quite a bit of potential for us to improve,” said Leclerc. “It is looking good for now, but we shouldn’t get carried away because it’s just Friday and I feel our competitors have a bit of performance still to reveal.
“I really enjoyed driving on the new Zandvoort. The banking feels very special on the first timed lap and it’s just overall a fun track to drive on. Then for the race, I don’t think there will be much overtaking so it will be important to secure a good grid position tomorrow.
“Our race pace was not as good as the single lap performance so we will be focusing on that.”
“We felt confident straightaway with the car balance” – Carlos Sainz Jr.
Team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr. also enjoyed his first day at Zandvoort, with the Spaniard ending third fastest in the morning and 0.154 seconds back on Leclerc in second place in the afternoon.
Sainz says the feel of the car was good right from the onset of practice, but like his team-mate, he does not believe the true pace of some of their competitors has been seen, particularly from the likes of Red Bull Racing and the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team.
Nevertheless, Sainz believes it was a positive start to the weekend, and there is still room for Ferrari to improve their own pace in order to give them a good chance of solid points on Sunday afternoon.
“It’s an impressive and different track compared to what we are used to,” admits Sainz. “It was fun to try different lines in FP1 around the banking corners and to push a bit more in FP2. I enjoyed myself out there today and the atmosphere with the fans close to the track is great!
“In terms of performance, we felt confident straightaway with the car balance and with the car performance. We managed to do some decent running on soft tyres, whereas other competitive cars were caught out by the flags, so that’s maybe why we look so good on the time sheet.
“For sure we have room to improve, but still the car felt good and it was a positive Friday for us.”