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Leclerc and Sainz upbeat after day one in Spa despite large deficit to Verstappen in FP2

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Despite a large deficit on the timesheets to Max Verstappen in the second practice session, Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz where in a rather positive mood on Friday night in Belgium, reflecting on a "comfortable" first day of running at Spa-Francorchamps.

Leclerc was second in both sessions on Friday, and was the only driver to come within a second of Verstappen’s qualifying simulation time in FP2. And while the Monegasque was concerned about the low-fuel pace of his F1-75, he said that different teams being on different programs meant that it was too early to compare times.

“Overall, it wasn’t too bad of a day,” said Leclerc. “I mean of course we tested quite a bit of things, I think everybody was on a very different programme, so very different to compare on this first day coming back from the holidays, but overall, the feeling was quite okay.

FP2: Dominant Verstappen comfortably clear of Leclerc in second Spa practice session

“Low-fuel pace seems to be poor but the high fuel seems to be quite okay, so let us wait and see. We will keep working, try to do a step during the night and try to comeback stronger tomorrow.”

Leclerc will start at the back of the grid for Sunday’s race after making changes to his power unit components. And when asked if the penalty altered his Friday plans, he said: “Well, let’s say we did not put as much as attention as we normally do for the qualifying pace because it would be a little bit useless so yeah, more attention to the race pace to try and come back at the front as quickly as possible.”

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Carlos Sainz was happy with his first day of running in Spa but targeted improvements to keep up with Verstappen

Team mate Sainz topped the timesheets in FP1, but was down in fifth in the second practice session. But the Spaniard was happy with his pace, although he admitted that he and the team had to find more of it, given Verstappen’s eye-catching performance.

READ MORE: Verstappen says car felt good ‘from the first run’ in Spa as Horner explains why title leader opted for engine penalties

“Honestly, today I was comfortable and happy with the car. I know the end result was P5 or P6 so not looking very competitive,” said Sainz. “I was very happy with the car in FP1; in FP2 we did some changes that we knew might not have gone in the right direction but if you give me back the car from FP1, I’m pretty sure we can be on the pace tomorrow.

“It is true that Verstappen looked pretty quick today, especially in FP2 with the new soft. In the long run we were closer, but he seems to be on it this weekend and we’re going to have to extract the maximum out of it."

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