Charles Leclerc believes Ferrari is in good shape despite its pace in Friday practice at the Hungarian Grand Prix, but teammate Carlos Sainz is more pessimistic.
Ferrari was particularly quick in Monaco where Leclerc qualified on pole position and Sainz finished second, then showed that wasn’t a one-off with another pole in Baku and then Leclerc coming close to winning in Silverstone. After finishing FP2 in 11th place, the Monegasque was still confident Ferrari can have a strong weekend at the Hungaroring as it looks to improve its qualifying pace.
“We went through the plan; obviously the track changed a little bit but apart from that we are quite happy with the car for now,” Leclerc said. “We will see tomorrow in qualifying but the feeling is quite good for now. We still have some work to do everything at 100% tomorrow but we are on a good road.
“We hope to extract a bit more from tomorrow’s qualifying because afterwards it will be quite tricky to overtake. So we need to be a bit stronger on Saturday, especially this weekend, and that’s why our focus is probably a bit more on Saturday compared to other races.”
Leclerc says the race pace looked particularly good for Ferrari in high temperatures that made conditions tricky for the whole field.
“It’s quite difficult — it’s also very, very warm in the car but it’s the same for everyone so we need to adapt to it,” he said. “The race simulation seems to be quite strong, so now a little bit here and there in qualifying and once we do that well, it will be good.”
However, Sainz disagrees, after he was surprised to slip from fourth in FP1 to finish one position behind his teammate in the second session.
“Yeah, it was a bit of a strange one,” Sainz said. “I guess in FP1 we were quite happy with how everything went; then in FP2 the car didn’t feel any worse or didn’t feel particularly bad, it’s just that the others managed to improve and with an even hotter track temperature we kind of went a bit backwards.
“So something there to look into, but tomorrow there looks like a risk of rain and a bit of cloud coverage — then all of a sudden everything can mix up again.”
The Spaniard is only aiming as high as a top-10 qualifying position at this stage, having previously dismissed any similarities between the circuit characteristics in Monaco and Hungary.
“Unfortunately, before coming here we knew we have some weakness in our package and in our car that we know for some corners on this circuit it was not going to be particularly good at. We could prove it today. In Monaco we would never have been P11 or P10 in a practice session and today, unfortunately, as soon as something went in the wrong direction we found ourselves out of the top 10.
“So it shows we are a lot more vulnerable on this track — it’s not a Monaco — but we will hope we can recover a bit of pace and at least try and be on top of the midfield. But it’s not going to be easy because the Alpine looks very quick, the McLaren looks quick, the Aston Martin was very quick also, so it looks like a very mixed midfield and it should be an interesting battle for Q3.”