Bright skies and cool weather greeted the drivers when they arrived in the paddock at the Algarve International Circuit, which hosts the third round of the Formula 1 World Championship, the Portuguese Grand Prix. Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz faced the media in the now usual virtual press conference. Both men were asked their opinion of Sprint Qualifying, a new weekend format due to be tried three times this season, as a test for the following year. It involves a 100 kilometre race on Saturday to decide the starting grid for Sunday’s Grand Prix.
An idea worth trying. Both drivers said they were happy to try a new format: “I believe innovation is always a good thing and I think the solution that has been chosen won’t overshadow the real Grand Prix, while giving added value to Saturday, making it more interesting,” said Charles. Carlos agreed, adding that he was not concerned about having less time to set up the car. “Last year in Imola we already tried having just one hour of free practice before qualifying and I’d say there were no problems,” said the Spaniard. “So I’m keen to try out this type of weekend at Silverstone and Monza. Probably it won’t make a major change to the hierarchy, but it will be nice to see how it works out.”
Interesting circuit. Leclerc and Sainz then turned their attention to this weekend. “As you know, I love street circuits, where the walls are close and mistakes are costly,” commented Charles. “But, of the permanent tracks, this is definitely one of my favourites. Last year, we went well in qualifying and the race and I’m curious to see how our car will perform on the ups and down of this track.” Last year in Portugal, Carlos even led the race for a while. “In 2020, the rain helped me, but apparently there is none forecast for this Sunday. As for myself, I am aiming to continue getting more confident with the car and to enjoy this track which is varied and fun.”
Programme. Later in the afternoon, both drivers carried out the usual track inspection walk with their respective engineers, to prepare for tomorrow’s free practice when the cars take to the track at 11.30 local (12.30 CET) and at 15 (16 (CET). Qualifying takes place on Saturday at 15 (16 CET) preceded at 12 (13 CET) by the final free practice session. The 18th Portuguese Grand Prix to count towards the world championship will start at 15 local on Sunday (16.CET).