Ferrari drivers concerned by 'extremely hard to drive' SF1000 after Friday practice
A “radical approach” to downforce levels led to Charles Leclerc claiming the fourth fastest time for Ferrari in Free Practice 2 for the British Grand Prix. But while the result looked good on paper, Leclerc complained that the SF1000 was “extremely hard to drive” around Silverstone on Friday.
The 22-year-old ended FP2 with a lap that was within three-tenths of Lance Stroll’s headline time for Racing Point. But a low-speed spin early in the session gave a clue as to the low downforce levels Ferrari were experimenting with, as they sought to claw back the apparent drop in pace in their power units this year.
“The quali pace is definitely a bit better than what we expected to be honest, so this is good,” said Leclerc at the end of Friday’s running. “We’ve taken quite a radical approach with our downforce level, so it seems to pay off in quali but it doesn’t in the race [runs], so we need to analyse the data and see what we’ll have to do tomorrow.
“The balance was extremely hard to drive,” Leclerc added. “Very, very difficult not to do a mistake, so we definitely need to do something on that because otherwise doing that many laps like that during the race with this balance will be a huge challenge.
“But again, we can still change quite a lot of things, so we’ll try to understand what we can change to maybe sacrifice more of the quali pace to be better in the race.”
If Leclerc had mixed feelings at the end of Friday, he’d at least had a better day than team mate Sebastian Vettel, who had to sit out the majority of FP1 with an intercooler problem, while a brake pedal issue in FP2 limited his mileage – and, according to the German driver, threw off his rhythm, as he finished the session a lowly P18…
“It was a disrupted day,” said Vettel. “We had an issue with the brake pedal and we had to stop and fix that. So a bit difficult to get into a rhythm, but I think overall still little bits to learn from and take away for tomorrow.
“I was probably a bit off and a bit out in terms of rhythm, and around here especially you need a couple of good laps, and we didn’t have many laps in general and [we didn’t have] many good laps.”
Meanwhile, with Silverstone having witnessed temperatures of around 35 degrees Celsius on Friday, Vettel was asked whether the predicted cooler conditions forecast for the rest of the weekend would help Ferrari’s cause.
“We’ll see – the track should be in a different state, should cool down, so let’s see if that really happens,” he replied. “But I think on my side, a lot of it will calm down naturally overnight and we’ll have a better day tomorrow.”