The unknown factors of a new track and the battle for third in the Constructors’ championship were the main topics for discussion when the Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow drivers met the press in the usual Thursday conference for the first Qatar Grand Prix, that gets underway on Sunday at 17 local (15 CET.)
A lot of high speed corners. Charles said he expects the track to be “very challenging to drive with a lot of high speed corners. I was able to do a lap of the track by bike and it seems very interesting. I’ll be able to do a few more laps, but only when we get in the car and start looking at the numbers will we be able to understand what it’s really like. In order to be full tuned in to the track I think will require around 15 laps but we have three free practice sessions ahead of us, so I don’t think it will be a problem for anyone.” Carlos added that he had studied the Losail track by watching on-board footage from other categories. “Apart from the motorcycle races on the Internet, I also found some footage from other cars, even if they were in much slower categories than Formula 1. To get a better idea we’ll have to get in the car and begin to build up some mileage. That’s why it will be important to make the most of tomorrow.”
Close fight. Both drivers then spoke of the battle with McLaren for third place in the Constructors’ classification. “Despite how the last two races went, I think it’s still very close, because the gap between us is always just a few tenths,” commented Carlos. “If we look at what made the difference recently it was down to the number of mistakes made and reliability, which so far went in our favour. But it’s not over yet so it will be vital to stay focused one hundred percent.” Charles echoed his team-mate’s sentiments. “We must continue doing everything perfectly, as that’s the only way to maximise our car’s potential. We managed it in the past two races, but we cannot let our guard down.” Leclerc was then asked if he was aiming to finish fifth in the Drivers’ classification, the position currently occupied by Lando Norris. “As a driver, you want to finish as high up as possible and Lando is just three points ahead of me. Here again, if we do everything perfectly, it will be possible to fight with him, but I have to say that this is less important than the battle for third placed team. In the end, I won’t celebrate if I finish fifth, but neither will I cry if I don’t manage to get ahead of Norris in the classification.”
Programme. The race takes place at night, which means all practice sessions take place later than usual. The first free practice starts tomorrow at 13.30 (11.30 CET), with second session at 17 (15 CET). On Saturday, the final hour to work on car set-up is at 14 (12 CET), prior to qualifying at 17 (15 CET). The first Qatar Grand Prix gets underway on Sunday at 17 (15 CET).