Scuderia Ferrari’s priority for this first day of free practice for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix was to get plenty of laps in. Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz duly did 106 between them, equivalent to over twice Sunday’s Grand Prix distance, the race being run over 50 laps, for a distance of 308.45 kilometres.
Goals. At all street circuits it’s vital for the drivers to have the confidence to get close to the walls, to assess the evolution of the track, which as expected, was rather dirty at the start of the day and to get a feel for the car’s handling. With this in mind, both drivers evaluated all the tyre compounds on the SF-23. Racking up kilometres was also useful for the team to gather data relating to the car and the new components tried on track today.
FP1. Just before sunset, Carlos and Charles went out on track with new power units fitted to both SF-23s, as a precaution following Leclerc’s retirement in Bahrain, the Monegasque also taking a 10 place grid position here, having fitted a third control unit on his car. They started on the Hard tyre for their initial laps before switching to the Softs. Sainz set a time of 1’30”924 on these, (seventh quickest) while Leclerc stopped the clocks in 1’31”118 (eleventh.) In the final third of the session, both drivers then took on a heavier fuel load to run at race pace, using different compounds (Soft for Leclerc and Hard for Sainz.) The former completed a total of 26 laps and the latter did 23.
FP2. In the evening session, Charles and Carlos started on the Medium tyre before switching to Softs, with which they got down to 1’30”341 and 1’30”592, ninth and tenth fastest respectively. At this point, they stuck to the same script as in the first hour, Sainz tackling a long run on the Soft tyre, while Leclerc used the Medium. In the last few minutes, the Spaniard switched to Mediums for a few laps, completing a total of 29 laps, one more than his team-mate.
Charles Leclerc #16
We tested some new parts today and everything works as expected. It’s difficult to get a sense of our competitiveness as everyone is on a different programme so far. The feeling in the car is pretty good. We will try to maximize our qualifying tomorrow, but given that we will have a 10 place grid penalty on Sunday, our main focus will be on making up those positions during the race.
Carlos Sainz #55
It was an intense day here in Jeddah. This is a very unusual circuit with very peculiar characteristics which requires specific work to achieve a good balance. There is still some performance to find, but in general the car feels in the right window. Race pace was decent and tomorrow we will focus on maximising the result during qualifying.