By: Myanna Wedes
We are calling it early! Scuderia Ferrari is 100% title chances with both Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz on the ball with their pace, performance and overall driveability. They are pushing the limits together as a team and although there have been some porpoising issues, they are quick! The red beast has become a dynamic car to drive and will continue to improve as further upgrades arrive race by race. The attitude of both Leclerc and Sainz is relaxed, focused and calm. The new Albert Park circuit is quick!
The new circuit layout has positives and negatives for the Scuderia Ferrari machines. In comparison to Red Bull, sure from turn 6 through to the new turns 9 and 10, they do lack. With that said, their overall lap pace was strong and you have to remember the race here is long, strategy-based and of course, with tyre wear being monitored continuously. With regard to other teams, McLaren is fast here this weekend, Red Bull is looking for balance, Alpine is good in the middle sector and Mercedes continues to lack performance. Do not write them off though, Mercedes will come strong, it is just a matter of when. In the meantime, Ferrari are ready to capitalise on their position!
Charles Leclerc #16:
“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!“
Carlos Sainz #55:
“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.“
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.