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leclerc FERRARI F1 GP BELGIO VENERDI 26/08/2022 credit @Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

Leclerc: It’s still difficult to determine the pecking order

leclerc FERRARI F1 GP BELGIO VENERDI 26/08/2022 credit @Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

Despite staring at a near one-second gap to title rivals Red Bull and Max Verstappen, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was content at the end of day one of the 2022 Belgian Grand Prix weekend, believing the pecking order is still to be determined ahead of Sunday’s race

Fair enough as one half of the Red Bull team, the Verstappen side was eight-tenths clear of everyone by the end of practice today, while his teammate Sergio Perez was still coming to grips with the RB18 around the renovated Spa-Francorchamps circuit. The Mexican veteran was only good for tenth at the day’s end, due to issues with his car.

Leclerc reported in the Scuderia‘s review of the first day in Belgium: “It feels good to be back in the car after the break. We completed a solid number of laps while running in variable conditions, with rain coming and going in different parts of the track.

“It’s still difficult to determine the pecking order for this weekend, as all teams ran completely different programmes.

“Our main focus will be on race pace tomorrow, as qualifying will not be as relevant due to our penalty,” added Leclerc who lies second in the championship standings ahead of Sunday’s Round 14, 80 points behind reigning Formula 1 World Champion Verstappen.

Sainz: I’m confident we know where to find the lap time

sainz Spa F1 practice ferrari

In the other Ferrari, Carlos Sainz topped FP1, edging Leclerc by less than a tenth with Verstappen third, but in FP2 he went the wrong way with setup and ended up fifth fastest and a quarter of a second down on Leclerc.

The Spaniard reported: “Overall it was a good Friday. In FP1 I felt comfortable with the balance of the car. For FP2 we tried some changes which didn’t really work as expected and we lost the feeling a bit.

“However, I’m confident we know where to find the lap time for tomorrow and the long run pace was also ok, so I believe we are in a good place for the rest of the weekend.”

Sainz is likely to be in a much better place than Leclerc when they line-up on the grid on Saturday, as the #16 car will take PU-related grid penalties as will Verstappen and McLaren’s Lando Norris, Alpine’s Esteban Ocon, Haas’s Mick Schumacher and Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas.

With Verstappen targeting three wins in a row on Sunday, Ferrari has not won since Leclerc triumphed in Austria on 10th July. He trails the Red Bull driver by 80 points with nine rounds remaining in this 22 race championship.