F1 | Saudi Arabian GP | Leclerc apologises to the team for his unfortunate incident in FP2 and Sainz feels “relatively confident” after delivering solid results in both practice sessions
Both Ferrari drivers Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz expressed their excitement for the high-speed sections on the new Jeddah Corniche Circuit while addressing some concern over the challenging blind corners.
A full day of practices is complete at the new Jeddah Corniche Circuit and what started off as a solid start to the race weekend for Ferrari, ended with an unfortunate accident with Charles Leclerc that ended the FP2 session early. His teammate Carlos Sainz showed consistency with a sixth-place finish in FP1 and seventh in FP2.
For the Monegasque driver, it was seventh in FP1 then 10th after he lost the rear in turn 22 and crashed into the barriers. Leclerc and Sainz expressed some positives and negatives about the track after completing the two practice sessions. While the novelty of the Jeddah circuit proved to be a hit with both drivers, the blind corners presented challenges and room for concern.
Although the day ended on a low for Leclerc, he remained positive with the progress the team managed to complete during both sessions and said overall it was a “good” day.
"A day that unfortunately did not end up the way we would have wanted. On the upside, we ran through out planned programme and completed all the tests we wanted to in our two sessions. The potential is there and if we can put it all together tomorrow, we should have a good day,” stated Leclerc.
The 24-year-old Ferrari driver also apologized to his team and says he will try his best to deliver a solid result for qualifying to show his gratitude.
“I am sorry for the team who will have to put in a lot of work to have the car ready tomorrow and I will do everything I can to bring home the best possible result to thank them.”
Leclerc discussed how he favored the high-speed section the most on the Jeddah circuit and discussed the most challenging part of the track which were the blind corners.
“I really liked the track itself and I’d say that the best part to drive is around the high speed section. It is however unforgiving and there is no room for any mistakes. The most challenging part is getting into the right rhythm with all the blind corners there are. But, as soon as you do, it’s even more exciting to drive.
“The grip was better than I expected, and everyone working at the track did a great job in cleaning it up and making it significantly less dusty than it was yesterday.”
“What was peculiar was the track evolution, which was different to what we usually see at city circuits. Tomorrow, it will be key to go out at the right time in qualifying and get a clean lap by avoiding traffic, as the track is very narrow."
Sainz experienced an exciting day at the new Jeddah circuit complete with a rush of adrenaline. The Spaniard felt comfortable with the car after FP1 and FP2 and stated how he is focused on the details and strategy for the remainder of the race weekend.
"Very exciting day in general, just getting to know the track and getting used to such a different kind of circuit. Going at these speeds between walls is really intense and gives you a big rush of adrenaline. The car felt quite good today so now it’s all about fine tuning, understanding the tyres, the setup of the car and what is the right strategy for the rest of the weekend,” said Sainz.
Similar to Leclerc, Sainz expressed his concern with blind corners on the new track and commented on his teammate’s incident.
“Blind corners are obviously an issue whenever someone is cooling down and you are on a push lap because of the huge speed difference so we all need to be super focused even when we are not pushing.
“The track leaves very little margin for mistakes and Charles was unfortunate today. I’m sure the team can fix his car for tomorrow and we can both push hard come quali."
“It’s different, very different to anything I’ve driven before really, to be honest. The intensity that this track gives you and the thrill and the adrenaline is something that I haven’t lived... since my Macau days.
“So, yes, very different, very intense, very high-speed, very close to the walls. I kept trying to get the turning points right just before brushing the wall on the inside. It’s quite crazy out there but it looks like so far everyone has stayed safe today, and hopefully we can keep it the same way going into tomorrow and Sunday.”
Although Sainz conveyed some level of confidence after both practice sessions, he believes it will be another close battle with AlphaTauri, Alpine, and McLaren, similar to the last race at the Losail circuit in Qatar which was also a new track for F1.
“I feel relatively confident,” he said. “I did a good build up through the day, you know, getting up to speed very little by little, and the pace has been there all day. Just trying different compounds, different fuel loads [and] we need to analyse who is in front and who is behind.
“But at the moment it looks like another very tight battle with AlphaTauri, Alpine… and McLaren and ourselves. So, it looks like from fifth backwards it could be a very tight fight like it was in Qatar,” he concluded.