Charles Leclerc remains cautious about the potential of Scuderia Ferrari this weekend at Intercity Istanbul Park despite a strong-looking Friday for the Monegasque driver in Turkey.
Leclerc was an encouraging third fastest in the morning session behind only Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, while it was an even better afternoon session for the two-time Grand Prix winner as he was second quickest, behind only Hamilton.
On a track that is offering a lot more grip than it was back in 2020, Leclerc felt more at home and able to attack on Friday, but while he remains optimistic about his chances of a good weekend, he knows the important sessions and running are still to come on Saturday and Sunday.
“Compared to last year, the track has more grip,” said Leclerc. “The car felt really good today, and I really enjoyed driving as I could play with the rear of the car and rotate it like that. This seems to have worked out well for now, as we were quite competitive.
“Although things are looking positive so far, it’s only Friday. We need to keep our heads down and work on fine tuning the car to have a good qualifying.”
“Our target this weekend is to make up places on Sunday” – Carlos Sainz Jr.
Team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr. will go into Saturday’s Qualifying session in Turkey knowing he will start the race on Sunday at the back of the grid after his team opted to change his power unit ahead of the weekend.
Sainz did not go for outright pace during Friday’s running due to the penalties coming his way, so he used the track time to try different set-ups that will help him climb through the field on Sunday afternoon.
He feels the SF21 appears to be competitive this weekend, and from no grip in 2020, the Spaniard feels the track is now amongst the grippiest on the calendar thanks to the water-blasting that took place prior to the 2021 event.
“A bit of a different Friday for us obviously, knowing we will start from the back of the grid due to the penalty for changing the PU,” said Sainz. “We checked everything was running smoothly, tried different set ups and worked with the Soft and Medium tyres, focusing on the long runs.
“It felt quite strange to go into a Friday without attempting to go fast in the short runs, but our target this weekend is to make up places on Sunday.
“The car looks competitive and the track has changed a lot since last year. There’s a lot of grip, probably one of the highest of the season so far and it’s important to understand how it affects the tyres and the car performance.”