Friday free practice for the Belgian Grand Prix, the first race since the summer break, delivered typical Spa-Francorchamps weather at the track regarded as the University of motorsport, with grey skies and occasional rain. Scuderia Ferrari nevertheless worked through its planned programme with both drivers. Carlos Sainz was quickest in the first session ahead of his team-mate, and in the second one, Charles Leclerc was second fastest overall and Sainz was fifth, but less than three tenths off the Monegasque.
In the first session, the drivers got reacquainted with one of the most historic Formula 1 tracks, tackling it for the first time with the new generation of cars and with many of the runoff areas having been converted back to gravel this year. Carlos and Charles both did a lap on Intermediate tyres as the track was still damp from morning rain and then switched to slicks for the rest of the session. Carlos tried the Hard compound and set the best time of the hour in 1’46”538, around a tenth quicker than his team-mate (1’46”607). Although they both also went out on Mediums, they could not set a meaningful time as the rain returned. Carlos and Charles did 16 laps each.
In the second session, running both the Medium and Soft tyres, work continued on finding a good balance, while having to contend with the occasional shower of light rain. Both drivers set the best times on the softest compound, Charles doing a 1’46”369 and Carlos a 1’46”649. Then, for the final part of the session the two F1-75s ran with heavier fuel loads to simulate race conditions. Charles did a total of 21 laps, one more than his team-mate. Tomorrow, free practice 3 starts at 13 CEST, with qualifying at 16.
‘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.’
‘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.’