After being quick on Friday’s and taking pole at Monaco and Baku, there were to be no surprises from Ferrari on the opening day in France, as the team settled for P5 from Charles Leclerc and P8 for Carlos Sainz.
Friday at the French Grand Prix offered up the expected scenario of the two teams currently leading the championship heading up the time sheet, while the chasing pack were all very close to each other in terms of performance.
Scuderia Ferrari got through its programme with no major issues and given that Le Castellet circuit does not particularly suit the characteristics of the SF21, Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz being fifth and eighth fastest respectively, is in line with expectations going into this weekend.
Charles Leclerc Focussed On Balance
For Charles Leclerc, the opening day in France was all about finding the right balance, after shifting from tight street circuits to the wide expanses of Circuit Paul Ricard.
‘The main focus today was on car balance. The wind was very strong, which made it tricky to drive, but that was the same for everyone so we just had to try and find a good way to manage in these conditions.
‘In general, here things are looking more in line with what we expected compared to the last two race weekends, where we had pleasant surprises.
‘Our performance today was not bad and although we still have quite a bit of work to do, we made a nice recovery from FP1 and the car felt better this afternoon.
‘It will be important to understand how to get the tyres in the right operating window tomorrow. With the wind, we also have to find the right set-up to make sure that the car is easy to drive in qualifying. If we manage to put these two things together, I’m pretty sure we can have a decent weekend,’ said Leclerc.
Tricky Day For Carlos Sainz
It was a tricky day for Carlos Sainz, who battled all day to find the right setup in blustery conditions.
‘Today was quite tricky. We knew that this layout would be challenging for us compared to some of the previous races, so today went more or less as expected. However, we are not that far away and we are reasonably pleased with the car balance.
‘The trickiest thing was the strong wind, which was blowing in the worst possible directions, with a head wind on the straights and a tail wind in the corners. It made the circuit challenging and slower.
‘The Soft and Hard tyres seem to work well, so we’ll keep working tonight to try and extract the maximum from the car tomorrow,’ added Sainz.