Scuderia Ferrari will be chasing a podium finish in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix from fourth place with Carlos Sainz and from twelfth with Charles Leclerc, who was second fastest in qualifying, but is taking a ten place grid penalty, because a third control unit was fitted to his SF-23 at the start of this event. It looks like being a very open race round the Jeddah Corniche track, with Charles and Max Verstappen having to start from the midfield. Overtaking is not too tricky because of the long straights and Safety Cars have featured quite often on this 6.174 kilometre track.
In the second part of qualifying, Charles’ first timed lap was good enough to get through to the final part, while Carlos had to go for a second run on new Softs to make the cut. In Q3, Sainz therefore made his first run on used Softs and his time was not that competitive, while Charles was second quickest on his first run and again on his second with his last set of new Softs, in a time of 1’28”420. Carlos was fifth quickest in 1’28”931, but will start from fourth place on the second row, because of his team-mate’s penalty. The race gets underway at 20 local (18 CET).
‘I’m happy with my lap, it was on the limit and we finished further up the order than we expected to in this session. However, our competitors are strong and we still have a lot of work to do. Our race pace looks solid this weekend. It’s not easy to overtake on this track, so I will do my best to fight my way back to the front tomorrow.’
‘Not the best of qualifyings from my side to be honest. I struggled with the tyres into the first few corners and lost the time there. The rest of the lap felt good, but it wasn’t enough to make up for sector 1. My bad. However, the weekend is not over and we have the pace to fight for a step on the podium, so we’ll reset tonight and come back at it tomorrow in the race.’
Frédéric Vasseur Team Principal
‘It was a decent quali for the team today with Charles P2, one tenth off Perez – which will become P12 with the penalty – and Carlos fifth fastest. Our pace was not too bad but we need a step forward. It’s a pity for Carlos because he had to put on a second set of Softs in Q2 and at the end, in Q3 he only had one set and made a small mistake, which probably cost him the front row. However, Carlos had good pace and he’ll start P4, which gives him a good opportunity. Looking at tomorrow, our race pace was good yesterday and on the long stints we had low degradation, also thanks to the fact this track is very grippy, very different to Bahrain. It could be a strange race because it’s quite easy on paper to overtake but actually, we could see a DRS train which could be a game changer. We need to find good track position and the right slot for the pit stops.’