Saudi Arabian GP: Ferrari duo Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz remain optimistic despite engine problems
Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz were out of pace for Ferrari in Friday’s two practice sessions at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix; Both Ferraris took on new power units in Jeddah; Watch the Saudi Arabian GP final practice live Saturday at 1.30pm on Sky Sports F1
Last update: 03/17/23 22:07
Both Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz were optimistic about Ferrari’s prospects at the Saudi Arabian GP after Friday’s practice.
Ferrari duo Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz remain optimistic about their chances at this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix despite the team’s ongoing engine problems.
It was confirmed earlier in the week that Leclerc would be handed a 10-place grid penalty in Jeddah after technical issues at the season opener in Bahrain saw him retire and use each of the two systems control electronics for which each pilot is authorized. campaign, but more bad news was to follow.
Shortly after the start of Friday’s opening practice session, the FIA confirmed that both Ferraris had also taken new power units, which will not instantly lead to further penalties but could result in infringements later in the season, and is an ominous reflection on the team’s confidence in its reliability. .
With the new power units in place, they then delivered a disappointing display at a track where most expected them to be much closer to early season trailblazers Red Bull than had been the case. in Bahrain.
Sainz’s seventh place in opening practice was their best finish of the day, with Leclerc finishing ninth, one place ahead of his teammate in session two, in which the nighttime conditions mirror those in which Saturday’s qualifying and the race will take place. Sunday. .
Max Verstappen tops the Saudi Arabian GP P1 timing sheet with his final run of the session.
The fact that the Ferraris were almost a second behind reigning world champion Max Verstappen led to suspicion that they had run with their engines cut, which Leclerc confirmed after the session.
“I don’t think we’re that bad,” Leclerc said.
“Honestly the feel is pretty good but very hard to read in the performance because everyone does different things with power, weight etc.
Despite a 10-place grid penalty, Charles Leclerc is optimistic about Ferrari’s best performance at the upcoming Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
“But the feeling was pretty good, and the race pace seems better than in Bahrain, so that’s positive.
“We’ve got quite a few in the locker. How many? Let’s see.
“I’m sure Red Bull still have something hidden so we’ll see tomorrow but I think it will be closer than it is at the moment.”
Oscar Piastri finds the whole track blocked during a flying lap in P2 of the Saudi Arabian GP.
Even with Ferrari’s engines running below full capacity, Leclerc complained during the second test of apparent problems but later insisted “there was nothing wrong”.
“There were a few moments where I upshifted on the kerbs, which doesn’t put the engine in the best position, so I complained just to make sure everything was fine.”
Sainz: ‘Our position today does not reflect our true pace’
Sainz had said on Thursday that Ferrari was in a “bad situation”, and confirmation that it was also getting a new engine on Friday added context to those comments.
The Spaniard, who carries Ferrari’s hopes of challenging Red Bull – and beating Aston Martin and Mercedes – given Leclerc’s grid penalty, was also optimistic about the car’s pace.
Karun Chandhok updates us on the track changes for this year’s Saudi Arabian GP at Jeddah Corniche Circuit.
“I feel closer than Bahrain,” said Sainz, who finished fourth behind the Red Bulls and Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso in the season opener.
“Our position today does not reflect our true pace.
“We seem competitive on the long stints, so I’m more positive heading into the weekend.
“Red Bull are clear favorites but Aston Martin and Mercedes are there with us in terms of pace.
“The general feeling, I feel closer. If it’s enough to be on the podium or fight at the top, we’ll see on Sunday.”
“Ferrari will be in the fight for pole”
Sky Sports F1’s Karun Chandhok said he expected Ferrari to fight for pole on Saturday, although he admits his start to the season has been less than ideal.
“Their fans got a big beating last year and everyone was hoping this year would start differently, and it hasn’t so far,” Chandhok said.
Relive Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen’s epic battle for victory at the 2022 Jeddah circuit.
“I think Ferrari was holding back. I think with all the reliability issues they have, they haven’t revved the engines as much as they would like on a Friday.
“I expect them to be, certainly in qualifying, in the fight for pole position. What happens in the race, we will see over time.
Sky Sports F1’s Damon Hill added: “It’s a shame, isn’t it? You can build the most beautiful car in the world, but if it has no engine it’s not going anywhere.”
Formula 1 street racing is back! Watch the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix live on Sky Sports F1 this weekend. Saturday qualifying and Sunday’s race are live at 5 p.m. Get Sky Sports