RACE DEBRIEF

    Charles Leclerc set the benchmark on Friday with his blistering FP2 lap, but warned that Red Bull have more pace in the tank ahead of what could be a very close Saturday qualifying shootout at Melbourne's Albert Park.

    Leclerc topped FP2 with a time of 1m 18.978s – 0.25s ahead of Red Bull rival Max Verstappen – but the Dutchman had encountered traffic then locked up on his flying laps, before setting his fastest lap on worn soft tyres. That was not lost on the Monegasque racer.

    READ MORE: Verstappen shrugs off gap to Ferrari as he says Red Bull ‘more or less’ on their pace at Albert Park

    "Yes, I think already today they have more than what they’ve shown just because they did not put the lap together," said Leclerc after FP2 on Friday. "Max had a bit of traffic in his fast lap. It is going to be very close, so we will have to maximise our car to be starting on pole on Sunday."

    Charles Leclerc: Ferrari's porpoising 'not too much of a limitation' in terms of lap time

    Leclerc also remarked on the challenging brand-new layout that Albert Park boasted for its return to the F1 calendar, with numerous reprofiled corners greeting the drivers Down Under.

    WATCH: Ride onboard for Charles Leclerc’s fastest lap in FP2

    "It’s a very tricky track. I mean it’s quicker than before, quite slippery also but it’s always the case on Friday here, because obviously we have not been driving here for two days and there are no other races during the year, I think," he continued.

    "So, it takes a bit of time before the track improves and gets the final grip for qualifying but overall, it was quite a positive day for us. A tricky one – FP1 especially was very tricky for me; FP2 we got a little bit better working on the car. Hopefully we will do another step forward for tomorrow in FP3."

    1390232096
    Sainz said porpoising was an issue for him on the "tricky" track

    Carlos Sainz, who was fastest in FP1 and third in FP2, echoed team mate Leclerc on the "tricky" tarmac – and added that Ferrari were still struggling with porpoising.

    "It was quite tricky out there, very tricky tarmac, we found it… quite tough out there to drive. You also saw the struggles that we were having with the bouncing, so it is not easy at the moment, but at the same time I’ve been quick [in] the two sessions, so I'm looking forward to tomorrow."

    Ferrari lead both championships – Leclerc heading the drivers' standings – heading into the 25th Australian Grand Prix to be held at Melbourne's Albert Park.

    Tap here to subscribe to F1 TV for enhanced race coverage, exclusive shows, archive video and more.