Friday at the French Grand Prix offered up the expected scenario of the two teams currently leading the championship heading up the time sheet, while the chasing pack were all very close to each other in terms of performance. Scuderia Ferrari got through its programme with no major issues and given that Le Castellet circuit does not particularly suit the characteristics of the SF21, Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz being fifth and eighth fastest respectively, is in line with expectations going into this weekend.
FP1. The team split the job of tyre evaluation between the two drivers: Charles started on the Medium compound, while Carlos left the garage on Hards. Grip was fairly low and so, after a handful of laps both drivers switched to the Soft compound, with which Charles set a time of 1’34”950. Unfortunately, Carlos had a spin which ruined his tyres and so he was unable to do better than the 1’35”342 set on the Hard compound.
FP2. In the afternoon, the Monegasque and the Spaniard completed 23 and 24 laps respectively, posting the fifth and eighth fastest times. As usual, the first part of the session was spent looking for quick times over a single lap on the softest compound, before both drivers switched to evaluating the various compounds with plenty of fuel on board. There was not much difference between the Ferrari men’s lap times with Charles posting a 1’33”550 and Carlos a 1’33”698.
Programme. Tomorrow’s action begins with the third free practice session at 12 CET, which will be useful preparation for qualifying at 15. The 61st French Grand Prix to count towards the Formula 1 World Championship gets underway at the same time on Sunday.
Charles Leclerc #16
The main focus today was on car balance. The wind was very strong, which made it tricky to drive, but that was the same for everyone so we just had to try and find a good way to manage in these conditions.
In general, here things are looking more in line with what we expected compared to the last two race weekends, where we had pleasant surprises.
Our performance today was not bad and although we still have quite a bit of work to do, we made a nice recovery from FP1 and the car felt better this afternoon.
It will be important to understand how to get the tyres in the right operating window tomorrow. With the wind, we also have to find the right set-up to make sure that the car is easy to drive in qualifying. If we manage to put these two things together, I’m pretty sure we can have a decent weekend.
Carlos Sainz #55
Today was quite tricky. We knew that this layout would be challenging for us compared to some of the previous races, so today went more or less as expected. However, we are not that far away and we are reasonably pleased with the car balance.
The trickiest thing was the strong wind, which was blowing in the worst possible directions, with a head wind on the straights and a tail wind in the corners. It made the circuit challenging and slower.
The Soft and Hard tyres seem to work well, so we’ll keep working tonight to try and extract the maximum from the car tomorrow.