RACE DEBRIEF

    Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc is going after his third consecutive top-five start at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix – and he put himself in a good place to achieve that feat by going fifth fastest in the sole free practice session of the Imola weekend, and with a car he wasn’t 100% satisfied with to boot.

    Leclerc was heard complaining during the 90-minute practice session of understeer in his Ferrari SF1000. But despite that, the Monegasque still had enough pace in hand to finish the session in P5, behind the AlphaTauri of the impressive Pierre Gasly, and the last driver to get within a second of Lewis Hamilton’s session-leading time for Mercedes.

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    “I was not very happy this morning, but I think for the last run it was actually quite a bit better and we went in the right direction,” said Leclerc. “So we’ll try to keep going into that direction for qualifying, and hopefully I will be a bit more satisfied with the car.”

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    Leclerc complained of understeer in his SF1000

    Asked how confident he was of securing that third consecutive top-five grid slot, meanwhile, Leclerc said that racing at the track more recently than many of his fellow drivers – with the Monegasque having competed here in the 2014 Formula Renault 2.0 Alps series – could provide an advantage over his rivals heading into qualifying.

    AS IT HAPPENED - Practice for the Emilia Romagna GP at Imola

    “I would love to [qualify in the top five], but let’s wait and see – we can’t know,” said Leclerc. “I was here not so long ago, for other drivers it’s been quite more time, so probably they are still getting used to the track, so let’s wait and see. But I think I was not driving very well in [practice] so there is more to come hopefully.”

    Sebastian Vettel continued the trend of trailing his team mate in the Imola practice session, meanwhile, ending up P12 and 0.479s off Leclerc’s time, having admitted to the media on Friday that he was struggling to understand the pace differential between himself and Leclerc this season – although he added after practice that getting used to Imola had played a part on Saturday morning, saying: “I think it’s mostly the fact that I didn’t know the track, that’s the most difficult bit.

    “The rest, I think in terms of the car, we’re now having a look in terms of if there’s something we want to change, but I think it felt alright and we’ll see how we get on in qualifying.”