Scuderia Ferrari had both drivers well off the pace at the end of the opening day of the Qatar Grand Prix, with Carlos Sainz Jr ending the first day at the Losail International Circuit in tenth with Charles Leclerc in thirteenth.
Sainz was the fastest of the Prancing Horse’s come the end of the first day at Qatar, with the Spaniard’s first two free practice sessions being about completing as many laps as possible to increase the team’s understanding of the circuit. Sainz ended the opening day almost +0.9s behind leader Valtteri Bottas, however it does appear that Ferrari put a lot of focus into their race set-up.
The Spaniard is one of a number of drivers who are really enjoying the fast and flowing nature of the circuit and is fully expecting to be higher than tenth on Saturday.
“The first day on an unknown track is always exciting and challenging, as it’s obviously a completely new experience. To be honest, I think this track has surprised everyone with how fast it is and the speed we are doing around the corners. That translates into having to work harder on the set-ups we originally had in mind and having to adapt throughout the day.
“We are not exactly where we want to be, so we need to improve the car overnight because the competition is very tight. I have full confidence that we can manage it and hopefully tomorrow we will be further up the order.“
“I really like the track” – Charles Leclerc
Charles Leclerc ended his day relatively happy despite his disappointing position, the Monegasque driver was just over +0.9s behind Bottas, resulting in thirteenth place. Times are appearing to be incredibly close, with the top fourteen all within a second as the drivers look to get to grips with the new track.
Like his team-mate, Leclerc has loved the track and is satisfied with the number of laps he completed on Friday.
“I really like the track here at Losail, it is great. It’s always interesting to mix things up and see a new venue on the calendar. We put in a good number of laps across our two cars today, getting to know the characteristics of the circuit and gathering as much data as possible. Our main focus will probably be on qualifying preparation because our long-runs were already quite good. What will be key is balancing the first and last sectors, due to tyre overheating that is caused by the high temperatures here.”