Charles Leclerc wants to reward his mechanics with a strong weekend at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit after the Monegasque driver crashed heavily during Friday evening’s free practice session.
The Scuderia Ferrari driver crashed at turn twenty-two after losing control of his SF21, with the car suffering major damage as a result of heavy contact with the barriers. He was able to get out of the car unharmed, but the crash ended the session early.
The team says the chassis and engine have been checked and will be available to use for the rest of the weekend, alleviating fears of any kind of grid penalty for Sunday’s race.
“A day that unfortunately did not end up the way we would have wanted,” said Leclerc. “On the upside, we ran through out planned programme and completed all the tests we wanted to in our two sessions.
“The potential is there and if we can put it all together tomorrow, we should have a good day. I am sorry for the team who will have to put in a lot of work to have the car ready tomorrow and I will do everything I can to bring home the best possible result to thank them.”
Leclerc’s best lap was enough to put him just inside the top ten, and although his day ended in a bad way, he believes the potential is there for Ferrari to have a strong weekend in Saudi Arabia, providing they avoid the pitfalls of traffic during Qualifying.
“I really liked the track itself and I’d say that the best part to drive is around the high speed section,” he said. “It is however unforgiving and there is no room for any mistakes. The most challenging part is getting into the right rhythm with all the blind corners there are. But, as soon as you do, it’s even more exciting to drive.
“The grip was better than I expected, and everyone working at the track did a great job in cleaning it up and making it a lot less dusty than it was yesterday. What was peculiar was the track evolution, which was different to what we usually see at city circuits.
“Tomorrow, it will be key to go out at the right time in qualifying and get a clean lap by avoiding traffic, as the track is very narrow.”
“Going at these speeds between walls is really intense” – Carlos Sainz Jr.
Team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr. was pleased with his day in Saudi Arabia, and like many other of the drivers, he felt the track was giving a ‘big rush of adrenaline’ due to its high speeds around a narrow track.
The Spaniard ended the day with the seventh fastest time, just over half a second down on the best time set by Lewis Hamilton, and he was happy with how his SF21 was feeling.
Sainz says there is no margin for errors around the Jeddah track, as shown by his team-mates crash, and he says it will be important to stay completely focused throughout the rest of the weekend.
“Very exciting day in general, just getting to know the track and getting used to such a different kind of circuit,” said Sainz. “Going at these speeds between walls is really intense and gives you a big rush of adrenaline.
“The car felt quite good today so now it’s all about fine tuning, understanding the tyres, the setup of the car and what is the right strategy for the rest of the weekend.
“Blind corners are obviously an issue whenever someone is cooling down and you are on a push lap because of the huge speed difference so we all need to be super focused even when we are not pushing.
“The track leaves very little margin for mistakes and Charles was unfortunate today. I’m sure the team can fix his car for tomorrow and we can both push hard come Qualifying.”