Dreary autumn weather, rather than the usual mild and sunny conditions that last into October in this part of Russia, met Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow drivers Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc when they arrived in the Sochi paddock. The changeable weather predicted for the whole weekend is not unwelcome for Carlos and Charles, as they explained in the usual Thursday press meeting.
Expectations. Sainz was analytical when assessing the Scuderia’s expectations in terms competitiveness. “I think that, compared to our main rivals, we will struggle in the first sector, which is the quickest one. But I expect we can be equal in the second and maybe even better than them in the last one. If that’s the case, then I think we can aim at doing well in Sochi.” Charles had similar thoughts, even though he will have a fight on his hands, starting at the back following his engine change. “It’s not impossible to overtake at this track, so I’m ready to go on the attack. Also, the forecast is for rain maybe on Sunday, which could also produce an unpredictable and fun race. Obviously, our main rivals will be able to make the most of the fact I have a penalty,” continued Leclerc. “But apart from third place in the championship, I think our progress is clear to see. By Monza, the 14th race of the season, we already scored more points than we did last year after we had done three more races and we can be pleased about that. Also, as a team, we have come close to winning on at least two occasions, even if we didn’t quite make it.”
Working towards 2022. As mentioned, Charles will start from the back of the grid after changing several power unit components. The new unit will be fitted with an updated hybrid system. “I believe every improvement is going in the right direction,” he said. “But we have not introduced the update for this race because we think it will change the hierarchy among the teams. It is mainly aimed at 2022. We have to acquire data and doing so at a race weekend is the best way to ensure it’s as accurate as possible.” Carlos will have to wait. “It’s not a problem,” maintained the Spaniard. “We talked about it looking at all the possible options. The driver most at risk in terms of reliability of the power unit was Charles after what happened in the Hungarian Grand Prix and so it was right that he should get it. I will try and fight at the front in this race, hoping that my team-mate can have a nice climb up the order. As for when I will have the update, we have not yet decided. We have to work out at which track it will be least disadvantageous to make the change and start from the back.”
No regrets. Sainz was also asked if, following McLaren’s Monza win, he did not regret having changed teams for this season. “I believe a hundred percent in my decision. We could have also won at least a couple of times, while they made the most of the opportunity that came up at the last race. I made my decision not based on one win, but on the entire project and I still believe that I am in the best team when thinking about the new era that Formula 1 will enter next season.”
Programme. And so tomorrow the engines fire up with Friday’s two free practice sessions starting at 11.30 and 15 local time (10.30 and 14.00 CET), while the final hour of free practice in preparation for qualifying takes place on Saturday at 12 (11 CET). Qualifying is on Saturday at 15 local (14 CET) and the race starts at the same time on Sunday.