Formula 1

Charles Leclerc: “What was challenging were the bumps on the track”

2 Mins read
Credit: Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

Charles Leclerc was pleased that Formula 1 was back in the United States for the first time since 2019 on Friday, with the Monegasque racer delighted to see the fans back in the grandstands in their droves.

The Scuderia Ferrari driver says the bumps around the Circuit of the Americas made it a tricky day of practice, and Leclerc says he will be looking to find a more optimal set-up ahead of Saturday’s Qualifying session.

Leclerc ended fourth fastest in the morning session on Friday but slipped to seventh in the afternoon, and on top of getting a better set-up, he knows he will need to work hard on tyre conservation, particularly with warm conditions expected to remain all weekend long.

“It feels great to be back in the United States,” said Leclerc.  “The atmosphere here is always so special, both at the circuit and around the city of Austin. Everyone is really friendly and enthusiastic and it’s been great to already see fans waving their flags and supporting us in the grandstands today.

“In terms of our sessions, we ran through the planned programme, testing a bit of everything. What was challenging were the bumps on the track which made it very tricky to drive.

“With temperatures running quite high, tyre management was a key factor. Tyres overheated, especially in the third sector. You have to find a perfect balance between pushing in the first sector while losing time in the last one, or saving the tyres in the first part to be quicker at the end of your lap.

“We will do some more work in FP3 to understand how to optimise this ahead of qualifying tomorrow.”

“Overall, I’m happy with our Friday and the pace is promising” – Carlos Sainz Jr.

Team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr. was also happy to be back racing at the Circuit of the Americas after a years absence, and he feels the bumps that have developed over the years at the track gives the venue some additional character even if they do pose a headache to teams and drivers.

Sainz ended fifth fastest in the morning session, just behind Leclerc, but like his team-mate he dropped down the order in the afternoon and ended only ninth, just under a second off the best time of the session set by Red Bull Racing’s Sergio Pérez.

The Spaniard revealed that he had tried different set-ups across the day, and they had found improvements in between the morning and afternoon sessions, and his best lap time was not completely representative of his pace due to encountering traffic.

“It’s good to be back in Austin!” said Sainz. “The track felt great as always, right from the start. It’s a great circuit and very enjoyable to drive. It’s got bumpier over the years but I think it gives character to the track and it presents new challenges for the cars and the drivers.

“We tried different set ups today and improved a bit from FP1 to FP2. Overall, I’m happy with our Friday and the pace is promising, taking into account I got traffic in Sector 3 of my fast lap and couldn’t close an otherwise good looking lap.

“Track temperature was very high today and that obviously had an effect on the long runs, where degradation appeared quickly on the Softs. That could make things tricky come Sunday, so we’ll keep an eye on it.“

Carlos Sainz Jr. feels confident about Ferrari’s pace this weekend in Austin – Credit: Scuderia Ferrari Press Office
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Thirty-something motorsport fanatic, covering Formula 1, Formula Renault 2.0 and Formula 3. Feel free to give him a follow on Twitter at @Paul11MSport.
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