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Leclerc and Sainz pinpoint AlphaTauri threat after ‘challenging’ Friday in Mexico for Ferrari

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Ferrari managed top-six finishes in both Friday practice sessions but their start to the Mexico City GP weekend wasn’t as smooth as they would have liked – with Charles Leclerc facing engine issues and Carlos Sainz admitting that the Scuderia left some performance on the table. Furthermore, both drivers agreed that AlphaTauri’s pace was worrying…

Leclerc started off the day with a spin at the final corner that ended up with his Ferrari going rearwards into the barriers, but recovered to finish seventh in FP2. However, it was in the second session in which he complained of “engine issues” causing him trouble.

He explained: “We had some things going on in the background that wasn’t pleasing to drive, but nothing too big, and everything we can control, so it’s no big problems – it was just a bit more difficult to drive in those conditions.

READ MORE: ‘Every time I stop I can hear them’ – Home hero Perez targeting pole position in front of ecstatic Mexican crowd

“Just a little bit of lack of torque sometimes out of the corners, but lack of acceleration, but nothing too big again. We will have a meeting later. They [the team] know what it is, but I am not aware yet,” he added.

Having finished behind AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly in FP2, the Scuderia driver said that he didn’t expect the Honda-powered team to be Ferrari’s closest challengers in Mexico.

“Well, it’s strange because we came here thinking that we would be quite competitive but actually AlphaTauri looks very competitive. The Honda guys in general look very competitive and the McLaren also will be there, so it’s going to be very, very tight tomorrow,” he added.

2021 Mexico City GP FP1: Pérez and Leclerc hit wall in Mexico

Team mate Carlos Sainz – sixth in FP1 and fifth in FP2 – echoed his team mate’s comments on the AlphaTauri threat.

“We are still a bit far from ideal car balance and ideal feeling with the car, and what we are trying to do now going into tomorrow is make sure we put it in the right window and gain those extra couple of tenths that can put us in front of the AlphaTauri, that, at the moment, they look a bit quicker,” said Sainz.

READ MORE: Hamilton admits Red Bull are ‘definitely too quick for us’ after first day in Mexico

The Spaniard, who had a warm welcome from fans in Mexico, added that Ferrari have to find some extra pace on Saturday. That will be crucial for the Scuderia, who are just 3.5 points behind McLaren in the hunt for third place.

“I think maybe tomorrow we can come back up a bit if we nail the car balance for tomorrow and we go in the right direction with set-up changes, because I have a feeling we are not maximising our package yet,” concluded Sainz.

Carlos Sainz: 'We are not maximising our package yet' in Mexico

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