Leclerc: We seemed to lack a little bit of pace

Leclerc: We seemed to lack a little bit of pace

Leclerc: We seemed to lack a little bit of pace
Charles Leclerc is concerned Ferrari are lacking pace in race trim as the long runs in FP2 showed Ferrari are lagging behind Red Bull and even Mercedes.

It has been a trend this season that Ferrari always show impressive pace over one lap, only to suffer from excessive tyre degradation during the races and on higher fuel loads, and that seems to be the case in Abu Dhabi.

Charles Leclerc was third fastest in both FP1 and FP2, and while FP1 might be unrepresentative as it runs in a time of day different to qualifying and the race, FP2 showed Ferrari are not in best form on long runs.

However Leclerc was happy his Friday was uninterrupted, and was quoted by Formula 1’s official website saying: “It was a clean Friday, at least, which [for] a long time we didn’t have – this is good.

“On the other hand, we seemed to lack a little bit of pace, especially on the race runs,” he pointed out.

“[Our] quali runs seem to be okay, but this is no surprise, as it’s been the case for the last few races,” he added. “We just need to try and find a little bit of performance for the race. That’s definitely where our focus will be. Whether it will be the case or not, I don’t know yet.”

Max Verstappen topped FP2 (he didn’t take part in FP1, replaced by Red Bull junior Liam Lawson) and was over four tenths faster than Leclerc, but did two runs on fresh Soft tyres.

Asked to comment on the gap to the Dutchman, Leclerc said: “The last lap of Max was really quick, but he put one more [soft] tyre set [on], so it’s difficult to compare.

“The track is improving a lot in those conditions, especially when the night starts to come. We’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see, but I believe it will be closer in the quali than the race,” he concluded.

Carlos Sainz making up for missing time in FP1

On the other side of the Ferrari garage, Carlos Sainz sat out FP1, and gave his car for Ferrari Academy driver Robert Shwartzman, and was sixth fastest in the second practice session.

Reflecting on his day; Sainz said: “It was a busy one – especially FP2, obviously. FP1 was not very busy, I was just chilling in the garage.

“But [there was] a lot of work to do to catch up in FP2 to get the car back into the sweet spot and myself [to] also [get] used to the track and the grip that there is out there,” he explained.

“Overall, we managed to recover some good time, but there’s still a lot to catch up on in FP3 and quali. At this stage of the weekend, I’m still a bit behind, but going into quali [it] should be okay.”

As to how he predicted the weekend to develop come qualifying and the race; Sainz said: “We should be in the mix, although Red Bull look like they are back on form and they should be the car to beat.

“Especially Max was super quick in the short run and in the long run – in every condition really – and I think they are going to be tough to beat.

“But I think we’re going to be there in the fight with the Mercs and we should be okay,” the Spaniard concluded.