The Maranello squad returned to the scene of their best race of 2020, which saw then-Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel and current driver Charles Leclerc finish P3 and P4 respectively. Almost 12 months later, it’s looking good for the Scuderia at the Istanbul Park again, with Leclerc featuring in the top 3 at both of Friday free practice sessions. The Monegasque elaborated on what was a productive day for the team:
"The feeling has been good all day, but again, we shouldn’t get carried away because I feel like the top teams have more to show.
"On high fuel it’s been looking good, everything looks positive for now, but again, it’s only a Friday, so for now I want to keep my head down, keep working as hard as we can, to try and fine tune the car to have a perfect quali tomorrow.”
Asked about his chances if the rain forecasted for Saturday do arrive, the two-times pole sitter in 2021 reckons Ferrari might be in good shape, depending on rain intensity:
"If it rains, let’s see. In some places, like last year here, we’ve been extremely competitive in the rain, with intermediates. With the wets it’s a little bit more difficult for us, so let’s see how much it rains"
As for his teammate Carlos Sainz, the day was all about ‘experimenting’, as he will start Sunday’s grand prix from the back of the grid after a full power unit change ahead of the weekend, in order to get the benefits of Ferrari’s all new hybrid system.
"Quite a different day for me, with the different approach to the weekend compared to what we normally do, different weekend in general.
"Completely. Basically, I did only a couple of laps trying to try the car on lower fuel just to get a reference of the car in low fuel, but pretty much 99% of the session was done on higher fuel, trying to see the degradation of the tyres, trying different setups, to try and help the team and myself, to understand the problems that we have with the front tyres.
"It’s a front limited track, quite front limited, because of that famous turn eight and all the corners that make it very understeery, and we are having to experiment to see if we can solve the issues that we normally have, I’m using this weekend also as a bit of an experiment for myself."
The Spaniard said before the start of the weekend that he was 'excited' to start from the back of the grid on Sunday afternoon. Asked if those remarks are still valid considering Ferrari’s promising pace on Friday, Carlos isn’t so sure anymore:
"I am excited, but maybe a bit less. Now I see where Charles is on the low fuel and you see that he could be fighting for a podium. Then it makes me regret a bit the fact that I’m not gonna be there on Saturday to fight for it, and on Sunday to fight for it, unless I do a huge comeback that obviously is quite unlikely.
"Just makes me feel a bit more down, just because I wish I could be up there with him fighting for higher places, looking at where the pace of the car is this weekend.
"I’m gonna keep the faith up and see if we can still score good points on Sunday and [have] a good weekend. I can have some fun going through the field, but I would much rather be in the top 5 in quali and in the race."