Charles Leclerc admitted he is sad to see Ferrari struggling even more than expected at the Belgian Grand Prix after being level with Williams in Friday practice.
Ferrari has been off the pace for much of this season, with power unit technical directives over the past 12 months removing its performance advantage from last season. While it has not been unusual to see the team finding it tough to get both cars through to Q3, Leclerc and teammate Sebastian Vettel were 15th and 17th respectively in FP2 at Spa-Francorchamps, separated by George Russell’s Williams.
“Very difficult day,” Leclerc said. “I think it’s probably a surprise to be so far back, especially in FP2. We tried quite a lot of things in FP2, at the beginning I tried something quite aggressive in downforce levels but it didn’t really work out so we came back on that. We are just lacking pace at the moment. We need to work hard to catch back but I don’t expect miracles for this weekend.
“It doesn’t feel good. It’s sad to see Ferrari so far down, but as always our work as drivers is to give our best and that’s exactly what I’m trying and what Seb is trying to do in the car.”
Leclerc says the Ferrari is a harder car to drive than it was in pre-season, even if it was uncompetitive at that stage of the year too.
“In testing I was pretty happy with the balance but the pace was just not here. Today it’s mostly problems with the balance so we are really, really struggling with the balance of the car. We need to understand what we can do better to try and help us drivers to be driving at our best.”
Vettel has generally struggled more than Leclerc so far this season, and the four-time world champion says he expects to find a bit more pace when the team is not experimenting so much with set-ups on Saturday.
“Well I think it was a difficult day for us, the car was difficult and tricky to drive, that also means that we are not quite where we should be,” Vettel said. “We’re looking currently to find options with the set-up. We tried a lot this afternoon, reset and try again, and try something different. I’m sure tomorrow will be a bit better. I don’t know what the weather will be like but we’ll tackle it tomorrow.”