‘It’s great to be back feeling competitive’ say Ferrari drivers after topping FP2
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz emerged quietly confident from Friday practice at Zandvoort after they scored a one-two finish in FP2 – but both sought a step forward for Saturday's qualifying session.
Sainz finished just 0.004s behind Leclerc in FP2 after Mercedes scored a one-two in FP1, while Red Bull’s Max Verstappen had his first practice session cut short by gearbox issues on Friday at Zandvoort.
READ MORE: ‘We can do better than this’ says Verstappen after rocky start to home weekend at Zandvoort
Sainz said: “It’s great to be back feeling competitive, being there at the top of the times all weekend. Also the car gave me great confidence. I’m optimistic going into the rest of the weekend, but also feeling cautious because I know everyone can suddenly find two-tenths and beat you.
“It’s great to be back at such a challenging track, demanding as it is. I enjoyed... driving out there, even better when you look at the times we did out there. It felt like we were back to being competitive after such a difficult weekend in Spa, but also very surprised with how quick everyone is – McLaren, Mercedes, Red Bull – we are all within three tenths of a second, but I’m sure it will make everything very tight for tomorrow, and exciting,” he added.
Leclerc offered similar remarks after a successful Friday as he kept one eye on Ferrari’s competition – with Red Bull still to show their full hand – as he remarked that the Scuderia still need to iron out some understeer for Saturday.
“A little bit better,” Leclerc said, “but at the end we are all extremely close and it’s still a bit of a surprise to see everybody close, and it’s going to be a tricky day tomorrow – but we are looking forward to doing another step forward. I wasn’t much at ease with the car balance today, so hopefully we can work in the right direction and do another step tomorrow.”
READ MORE: Russell and Hamilton say Mercedes have found 'sweeter spot' with W13 after strong first day at Zandvoort
He explained: “Just in general, the balance was quite tricky, quite a bit of understeer, trying to rotate the car, and then in exit quite snappy because I didn’t rotate the car enough mid-corner. So we need to work on that, but I’m confident that we can make a step forward for tomorrow.”
In the Netherlands, Ferrari aim to stop Verstappen taking a second home victory in as many seasons as the Red Bull driver seeks to notch his fourth Grand Prix win in a row, after success in France, Hungary and Belgium.