Ferrari treated Friday practice for the 2023 Spanish Grand Prix as a test session, headlining their report from Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya: “A full test day” in which they were nowhere relative to the dominant Red Bulls, as their driver Charles Leclerc pointed out.
To start with, two hours on track is hardly a full test day (eight hours normally) but one imagines they need all the testing they can get after their woeful performance in Monaco, make that the season thus far in which Carlos Sainz and Leclerc have one podium between them in six races. Safe to say they will not be title contenders this year, wins may be hard to come by as it now stands
Tellingly the team reported from Barcelona on Friday: “Unlike the other teams, the Scuderia started off with a qualifying simulation, using two sets of Soft tyres. On the second of these, Leclerc lapped in 1:14.246, seventh best, while Sainz was eighth fastest with a 1:14.274.”
Verstappen’s timesheet-topping lap, in Quali mode, was three-tenths better than Leclerc’s best effort, putting the Ferrari man sixth in FP2 with Sainz a couple of hundredths of a second down on his teammate in seventh.
With half the session remaining at this point, the Scuderia then switched both cars to race configuration, with more fuel on board.
Leclerc: Difficult to read where we are in terms of performance
At the end of the day in Barcelona, Leclerc reported: “It has been an interesting day, as we had some new parts to try, so we ran very different programmes between the two cars. It was a productive day as we got through all the tests we wanted to do even if it’s difficult to read where we are in terms of performance right now.
“We will keep pushing to try and make the steps forward that we want in order to be more at ease with the car tomorrow and then we will be able to see where we are. For today, it’s clear that although Red Bull has the edge over everyone, the rest of the field is very, very tight.
Sainz added, “There were plenty of new things to try on the car and we were constantly adapting to the setup changes and analysing the differences between parts across the two sessions. We also tried all three compounds, so overall it has been a full day of preparation for the rest of the weekend.
Thanks to everyone cheering from the grandstands today, it feels great to see so many people at the track already on Friday!” added the Spaniard, who has a grandstand at the venue of his race dedicated to his fans.
As for the championship, unlike last year when they were setting the pace up until around now, the great Italian team are out of it unless they can find magic form in their car. and if anything, adding insult to injury for Tifose, will be the fact that Nico Hulkenberg’s Ferrari-powered Haas was quicker than both Red cars today, the German good enough for third in FP2.