Leclerc "didn't expect to be as competitive" in Bahrain F1 practice

Charles Leclerc said he was positively surprised with Ferrari's pace during Friday practice for Formula 1's Bahrain Grand Prix, as his new teammate Carlos Sainz Jr was fourth in FP2.

Leclerc "didn't expect to be as competitive" in Bahrain F1 practice

Ferrari is aiming to rebound from a dreadful 2020 season in which the Scuderia finished sixth in the constructors' championship and it has appeared to make good progress during the off-season.

Boosted by an improved power unit newcomer Sainz was fourth fastest in Friday's second practice, using Pirelli's soft tyres to come within three tenths of Red Bull's pacesetter Max Verstappen.

While Ferrari is careful not to read too much into practice times, Leclerc admitted he was surprised with how competitive the Italian outfit appeared to be.

"Today has been a positive day, to be honest, we maybe didn't expect to be as competitive even though it's still very early days for now," said Leclerc, who was 12th fastest after a compromised hot lap.

"FP1 was positive on my side, FP2 a bit less. I've been struggling a little bit with the car here and there and didn't manage to finish the lap [the way] I wanted to.

"Overall there's a lot of work, I can feel there's a lot of motivation in the team. And I can see also when we can feel the improvements that have been made since last year.

"Tomorrow will be the day where we'll know exactly where we are compared to the others."

Despite finishing fourth on the day, Sainz admitted he was still "under driving" his Ferrari SF1000, trying to adjust to the way his new car handles in Sakhir's gusty conditions.

"[We had] very different conditions compared to FP1. In FP1 everything felt fairly normal and suddenly there was a big change in wind and track conditions going into FP2, and it made the cars and balance a lot more on the edge," Sainz reported.

 

"If you compare this to the McLaren, when the wind changed I perfectly knew what the car was going to do, so I could anticipate myself and extract always independently of the conditions 95% to 100% of the car.

"When you switch teams and cars, as soon as the conditions change you don't know how the car is going to react. So you're always under driving a bit.

"You don't want to do stupid mistakes and you want to stay a bit below the limit of the car because you don't know how the car is going to react."

Realising he was still adjusting to his new machinery, Sainz explained he had to "stay mentally disciplined" in his feedback to the engineers.

"I always say you need races, you need experience, you need to go through different conditions to know how the car reacts," he added.

"It's tricky, you need to stay mentally disciplined. You don't want to give too many comments regarding the balance because you know you are also probably under driving a bit.

"Today I managed to adapt well in between the sessions, I managed to feel reasonably at home in the car but tomorrow could be a completely different story as soon as the wind changes again.

"If the wind picks up tomorrow I could be starting from scratch again and trying to find my feet little by little. The trick here is just let the sessions go by, let the experience build and be patient."

shares
comments

Related video

F1 Bahrain GP qualifying - Start time, how to watch & more

Previous article

F1 Bahrain GP qualifying - Start time, how to watch & more

Next article

The data that shows F1 is much closer in 2021 - with Red Bull ahead

The data that shows F1 is much closer in 2021 - with Red Bull ahead
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Event Bahrain GP
Drivers Carlos Sainz Jr. , Charles Leclerc
Teams Scuderia Ferrari
Author Filip Cleeren
Why Bottas feels the time has come to be “more selfish” Plus

Why Bottas feels the time has come to be “more selfish”

We’ve seen five distinct versions of Valtteri Bottas at Mercedes as he’s tried to fulfil his own ambitions while being a consummate team player – two difficult, competing missions which have been challenging to reconcile. Speaking exclusively to STUART CODLING, Bottas explains his highs and lows… and why he still believes he can be world champion

Formula 1
May 15, 2021
Does Aston have a case in F1 2021’s big technical row? Plus

Does Aston have a case in F1 2021’s big technical row?

Aston Martin claims Formula 1’s latest technical tweaks have cost it competitiveness – and that it’s the innocent victim of a regulatory stitch-up aimed at pegging back Mercedes. But is any of this actually true? It depends on who you ask, says STUART CODLING

Formula 1
May 14, 2021
How long can F1 2021's brewing title battle stay clean? Plus

How long can F1 2021's brewing title battle stay clean?

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have been evenly matched so far in the 2021 Formula 1 title race. Neither has been afraid to get aggressive against each other on track, teeing up an enthralling contest as the year unwinds. But is their rivalry destined to end in broken shards of carbon fibre?

Formula 1
May 13, 2021
What the Spain result tells F1 about the next phase of the Mercedes/Red Bull title fight Plus

What the Spain result tells F1 about the next phase of the Mercedes/Red Bull title fight

OPINION: Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes have recovered from their pre-season woes to take three wins from the opening four races of 2021. But each time Red Bull and Max Verstappen have pushed them hard. So, what clues did the latest round of that battle – the Spanish Grand Prix – tease about the next stage of the season?

Formula 1
May 12, 2021
How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner Plus

How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner

The Brabham BT46B raced once, won once, then vanished – or did it? STUART CODLING reveals the story of the car which was never actually banned…

Formula 1
May 11, 2021
The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle Plus

The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle

Formula 1’s visits to Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya over recent years have been met with familiar criticisms despite tweaks here and there to the track to improve racing. With the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix largely going the same way, proper solutions need to be followed to achieve F1’s wider targets

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings

Often described as Formula 1's laboratory, the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona gave the clearest demonstration yet of the pecking order in 2021. And it's the key discrepancies from that order which illuminate who is excelling, and who needs to hit the reset button

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
How Red Bull’s deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain Plus

How Red Bull’s deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain

An aggressive first corner move from Max Verstappen appeared to have set the Red Bull driver on course for victory in the Spanish Grand Prix. But canny strategy from Mercedes - combined with the absence of Red Bull's number two from the lead group - allowed Lewis Hamilton to pull off a demoralising reversal

Formula 1
May 10, 2021