Charles Leclerc doesn’t believe Ferrari are quick enough to compete for pole position in this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix.
He ended the first practice day of the new season in fourth place, almost half a second slower than surprise pace-setter Fernando Alonso. Leclerc doesn’t believe Ferrari can overcome that deficit overnight.
“I don’t think we have the performance maybe for pole,” admitted the driver who took more pole positions than anyone last season. “But we can be in the mix.
“Whenever we have races that are a bit more difficult, we should be here and try and take every opportunity . So that’s what we’ll try to do this weekend.”
Leclerc was happier with the balance of his car today, which he said has improved since last week. “The feeling is better than testing,” he confirmed.
“On my side in testing it has been very inconsistent in the way we run the car because we’re testing loads of things. So I didn’t have much time to put the car to my liking, which I did today, and I think that went pretty well.”
However he said the team’s impression of the superior performance of two of their rivals in testing was realised in practice. “It seems that again, what we thought was confirmed, Red Bull seem quite a bit ahead compared to everyone. Aston seem very strong too.
“But let’s wait and see. For now, we need to focus on ourselves, try to gain a little bit of performance overnight and hopefully have a great qualifying tomorrow.”
While Leclerc was pleased by the change in his car since testing, his team mate Carlos Sainz Jnr was less encouraged. he suffered a setback with a high-speed spin at turn nine during first practice which damaged a set of tyres and left him bottom of the times.
“Simply, the car is not exactly responding as I expect or as it did in testing,” he said. “I am struggling a bit more with the balance and it’s a bit more out of place compared to where it was. But we’re having a good look at it and we expect to put it all together for tomorrow.”
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