Saudi Arabian GP: Ferrari duo Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz optimistic despite engine problems
Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz were off Ferrari’s pace during the two practice sessions at Friday’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Both Ferraris adopted new power units at Jeddah. Watch the Saudi Grand Prix final practice live on Saturday at 1:30pm with Sky Sports F1
Last updated: 17/03/23 10:07pm
Ferrari duo Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz are optimistic about their chances at this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, despite ongoing engine concerns.
Earlier this week, Leclerc retired after experiencing technical problems at the season-opening race in Bahrain and was handed a 10-place grid penalty in Jeddah after exhausting each of the two control electronic systems allowed for each driver. confirmed to be received. The campaign continued, but more bad news followed.
Shortly after Friday’s opening practice session began, the FIA has confirmed that both Ferraris have used new power units. This will not result in further penalties immediately, but could lead to violations later in the season. Its reliability.
After the new power unit was installed, they delivered a dominant performance at a track expected to be much closer to early-season pacesetters Red Bull than Bahrain.
Sainz’s 7th place in the first practice was his best finish of the day, while Leclerc finished ninth in the second session, one place ahead of his teammate. .
The fact that Ferrari were almost a second behind reigning world champion Max Verstappen raised suspicions that they were driving with their engines off, which Leclerc confirmed after the session.
“I don’t think we’re that bad,” Leclerc said.
“Honestly, the feeling is pretty good, but it’s very difficult to read the performance because everyone is doing different things with power, weight, etc.
“But the feeling was pretty good and the race pace looks better than in Bahrain so that’s positive.
“We have quite a few lockers. How much? Let’s see.
“I’m sure Red Bull still has something hidden, so tomorrow we’ll find out, but I think it’s going to be closer than it is right now.”
Leclerc complained of an obvious problem in the second practice, even though the Ferrari’s engine wasn’t running at full capacity, but insisted “nothing was wrong” after that.
“There were a few moments when I upshifted on a curb where I couldn’t get the engine to work optimally, so I complained just to make sure everything was in order.”
Sainz: “Today’s position doesn’t reflect real pace”
Sainz said on Thursday that Ferrari was in a “bad situation”, but it was confirmed on Friday that he too was getting a new engine, adding context to those comments.
The Spaniard, who has Ferrari’s hopes of challenging Red Bull and beating Aston Martin and Mercedes after Leclerc’s grid penalty, was also optimistic about the car’s pace.
“I feel closer than in Bahrain,” said Sainz, who finished fourth behind Red Bull and Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso at the season opener.
“Our position today does not reflect our true pace.
“We look competitive in the long run, so we are more positive heading into the weekend.
“Red Bull are the clear favorites, but Aston Martin and Mercedes are together in terms of pace.
“The overall feeling is that we feel closer. If it’s good enough to be on the podium or fight at the top, we’ll see that on Sunday.”
‘Ferrari will fight for pole’
Sky Sports F1’s Karun Chandhok admits the start to the season has been far from ideal, but said he hopes Ferrari will join the race for pole on Saturday.
“Their fans were hit hard last year and everyone was hoping for a different start this year, but so far that’s not the case,” Chandhok said.
“Certainly I think Ferrari backed off. I think they had all the reliability concerns and they didn’t have the engine up like they wanted to on Friday.”
“Certainly in qualifying we hope they are right in the fight for pole position. Time will tell what happens in the race.”
Sky Sports F1’s Damon Hill added:
Formula 1 street racing is back! Watch the Saudi Grand Prix live this weekend on Sky Sports F1. Saturday’s qualifying and Sunday’s race will be broadcast live at 5pm. get sky sports