Leclerc admits there is work to be done for Ferrari to close gap on 'extremely strong' McLaren in Mexico City
Charles Leclerc believes that there is work to be done if Ferrari are to close in on McLaren during the Mexico City Grand Prix weekend, with the Woking-based team having displayed good pace in Friday’s practice sessions.
Leclerc found himself just behind Lando Norris in each of the day’s practice hours – the Monegasque finished fifth to Norris’ fourth in FP1 before ending FP2 in third on the timesheets, while second-placed Norris was the closest to world champion Max Verstappen at the top of the board.
When asked after the day’s running if he was satisfied with his P3 result in the final practice session, Leclerc explained: “Yeah, we still have a lot of work to do as the McLaren seems to be extremely strong, obviously the Red Bull and Max seem to be very strong.
“The Mercedes seem to be a bit difficult to read into now, but focusing on ourselves, we know the areas we need to work on and hopefully that will help us to do a step forward for tomorrow.”
Leclerc claimed pole position last time out in Austin but is not hopeful of the chances that he could repeat this feat in qualifying at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.
“It will be a huge surprise if we do pole position tomorrow but never say never,” he conceded. “It’s a tricky track, it’s difficult to put the lap together but I feel this weekend we are a bit too far away.”
Team mate Carlos Sainz returned to action on Friday after missing Thursday’s media day due to feeling unwell. The Spaniard ended FP1 in seventh before narrowly missing out on placing within the top 10 in FP2, finishing the session in 11th.
Reflecting on his day in the car, Sainz suggested that the squad had believed they would perform better at the track than the results showed.
“It’s been a tricky day for us, to be honest,” he admitted. “I think we expected to be more competitive but for one reason or another we didn’t seem to nail the balance. Especially over one lap, we seemed to struggle quite a lot with the rear grip and this is our main point to focus for tomorrow.
“That soft tyre is quite soft and it overheats pretty quickly and it gets you in trouble. Now we’re going to focus and see if we can improve our one-lap pace. The field seems to be really, really tight, so I think it’s going to be tough fights through Q1 and Q2.”
In regards to how he is feeling within himself and whether he expects to feel stronger as the event progresses, Sainz responded: “Yeah, I should only just get better through the weekend. Maybe today I was not 100 percent, although I was feeling okay.”