Charles Leclerc and Scuderia Ferrari were fastest in both free practice sessions at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit on Friday, but the day was not without problems for both team and driver.
Having won last weekend’s opening race of the season at the Bahrain International Circuit, Leclerc arrived in Saudi Arabia on top of the championship standings and with confidence, and despite a brush with the wall that damaged his front suspension, that confidence remains intact.
Leclerc started the weekend topped the time sheets in the morning session with a best time of 1:30.772, and he improved to a 1:30.074 before his brush with the wall ended his session.
“It was an unfortunate end to an otherwise good day,” said Leclerc. “In FP2 it was a small mistake, but not one that makes me lose confidence. I expected the front to slide around more and I clipped the inside wall at turn 4.
“Focusing on tomorrow, I think the pace is there. It’s a bit of a shame we couldn’t get the high fuel laps done, but we should be in the mix for tomorrow.
“These cars are behaving differently here in Jeddah compared to Bahrain” – Carlos Sainz Jr.
Leclerc was not the only Ferrari driver to play with the walls on Friday, with team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr. also doing so in the evening session.
Sainz confirmed that Ferrari has the pace this weekend to be a contender at the front of the pack again by placing inside the top four in both sessions, even though the Spaniard admitted the dreaded porpoising was ‘a bit of an issue’ around the fastest street circuit on the Formula 1 calendar.
Like his team-mate, his brush with the wall cost him the chance to do some long runs on Friday, and he knows they will need to do some long runs in the final free practice session on Saturday to properly prepare for race day.
“As expected these cars are behaving differently here in Jeddah compared to Bahrain and we keep learning more about how to set up the car for different conditions and corners,” said Sainz.
“Porpoising was a bit of an issue at a certain point but I’m not concerned. As last year, understanding which is the best tyre for the race is important for the strategy.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t do the long run at the end of FP2 after I brushed the wall and we had to stay in the garage. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.”