Scuderia Ferrari enjoyed a positive Friday free practice in Albert Park, setting the fastest times in both sessions, with Carlos Sainz in the first one and in the quicker second one with Charles Leclerc. The planned programme went smoothly, working on fine-tuning the cars in both race and qualifying configurations. All three of the Pirelli compounds available in Australia were evaluated and between them the drivers completed 99 laps of the modified Melbourne track.
FP1. In the first session, Carlos and Charles started out on the Hard tyres, setting times of 1’21”249 and 1’21”815 respectively, clear proof of how much the track modifications have led to a much faster lap time, currently to the tune of around four seconds. After a red flag period to remove debris on the main straight, the two F1-75s switched to Soft tyres, on which the drivers got down to 1’19”806 and 1’20”377. Towards the end of the session, both drivers ran a heavier fuel load and the Hard tyres they had used at the start. Sainz did a total of 24 laps and Leclerc completed 21.
FP2. There was a variation to the work programme for the second session as both drivers went out first on the Medium tyres to complete the evaluation of all the Pirelli compounds available in Australia. On these tyres Charles did a 1’20”523 and Carlos stopped the clocks in 1’21”145 having encountered a lot of traffic in the final sector. The Spaniard then improved to 1’19”979. The F1-75s were switched to Soft tyres and the times came down to 1’19”568 for Leclerc and 1’19”771 for Carlos before the Spaniard improved to 1’19”376 and the Monegasque to 1’18”978, the only driver to get under the 1’19 barrier. Max Verstappen split the two Ferraris, second in 1’19”223. Towards the end of the session, both drivers went out on a heavier fuel load and the Medium tyres used earlier for a few laps in race trim. Sainz and Leclerc did 27 laps each.
Programme. F1 track action resumes tomorrow with the third and final free practice session at 13 local (5 CET) in preparation for qualifying at 16 (8 CET).
‘For me, today was a bit of a harder Friday. FP1 was a bit tricky, I improved in terms of driving in FP2, but there is still quite a bit of work to do. I don’t think that anyone really put their lap together. Qualifying is tomorrow, when hopefully we’ll have a good run. Let’s push!’
‘It has been an interesting Friday as we had to deal with a lot of new things compared to the last time that we raced here. The track is completely different from what it used to be: it’s definitely faster and the new tarmac feels totally different in terms of grip as far as I can remember. We need to keep working on understanding how the tyres behave but, in general, I think we have a good baseline to start preparing for tomorrow’s qualifying.’