‘A few things are on the checklist’ – Ferrari drivers eye improvements despite topping both Friday practice sessions in Austin
Carlos Sainz has admitted that there is still plenty of room for improvement at Ferrari after the first day of practice for the United States Grand Prix, which saw the team top both sessions.
Sainz led the way during FP1 at the Circuit of The Americas, two-tenths clear of Red Bull rival Max Verstappen, before team mate Charles Leclerc took over at the front in FP2 – a session dedicated to testing Pirelli’s 2023 prototype tyres.
Despite being content with his and the team’s outright pace, Sainz detailed an uncomfortable ride at the wheel of the F1-75 throughout Friday’s running and hopes the situation can be improved ahead of the all-important qualifying hour.
“We were definitely on the pace today. It hasn’t been an easy day with the bumps; it’s always challenging here in Austin to have a good balance and to have a good ride over the kerbs and bumps. But in general, even if it wasn’t the most comfortable car to drive out there, we were quick, which is what counts,” Sainz reflected.
Asked if it felt like one of his better Fridays this season, he added: “In terms of pure pace, it does. In terms of feeling, not so much. There’s still a bit of work to do on the car for tomorrow, especially FP3 where we need to test a couple of things that we couldn’t test in FP2 because of the Pirelli test – so a few things are on the checklist.”
On the other side of the garage, Leclerc had to make up for lost time during his FP2-topping performance, after stepping aside to give Ferrari junior Robert Shwartzman some extra track time in the day’s opening session.
“It was really busy! I think it’s the busiest FP2 I’ve ever done. But it was nice, it was fun – loads of laps, loads of tyres. Obviously the prototype tyres, too, that we’ve tested,” said Leclerc, who was allowed to run his own programme at the start of second practice to compensate for his missed running.
“It was a positive day overall, the feeling is good, and having done so many laps in FP2, we’ve recovered a little bit the lack of running we had in FP1. Now we always need to do a step up from the Friday to the Saturday, but the feeling is good – so I hope we can have a good Saturday.”