In front of a huge crowd that turned out today at the Circuit of the Americas, Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow secured a satisfying result in qualifying for the United States Grand Prix. Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz were fifth and sixth fastest respectively in Q3 and they will both move up one place on the grid tomorrow following the penalty given to Bottas, who was fourth fastest this afternoon.
A lot of work. It was no easy task to once again be the best team over a flying lap, outside the top two that are fighting for the title. Track conditions were very difficult for everyone and the team got through a lot of work both in Austin and back in Maranello to give the drivers a car in which they could have the confidence to push on every lap.
Different tyres. The two SF21s will line up on the grid with different tyre compounds. Charles made the cut out of Q2 on the Mediums used on his first run, which means he can start the race on a tyre that, on paper, should be more competitive over a longer stint. It also left him with two sets of Softs for Q3 given that, to play it safe, he had used two in Q1. Like his team-mate, Carlos only had one set of new Mediums available and he did his first Q2 run on Softs and then was unable to improve his time on his second run on Mediums, partly because, unexpectedly, the track proved to be slower. In Q3, both drivers could fight on equal terms with their closest competition, getting ahead of them on the first run. The Grand Prix starts tomorrow at 14.00 (21:00 CET) and runs over 56 laps and, whatever the outcome, it looks set to be an exciting show.
Charles Leclerc #16
"It hasn’t been an easy Saturday for me, but I am very satisfied with how my qualifying went and am happy to have ended the day on a positive note.
It started out with a tough FP3. I had a good first run, but the second one was really difficult. I struggled mainly with the rear of the car and didn’t feel fully comfortable. We made some changes and headed into Q1 putting in quite a few laps. This helped me to regain confidence and from Q2 onwards I could push as much as I wanted again. Setting my best lap of the second session on the Medium compound could be an advantage in tomorrow’s race. We will also move up a position on the grid, starting in 4th and 5th, even though this means that I will start from the dirty side of the track.
I will give it my all to bring home a good result for the team tomorrow!"
Carlos Sainz #55
"Overall it’s a good result and I’ve felt confident with the car the whole weekend. The two laps in Q3 were consistent and pretty strong so I’m quite happy with that. The only downside is that I will be the only one in the top eight starting the race on the Soft. We were confident the track was going to improve and that I could beat the time I set on the Soft but the wind picked up in the second part of Q2, the track was slower and we all struggled to go faster.
We will look into it, but right now it’s time to focus on how to make my strategy work as well as possible tomorrow. We have good pace, the car feels good and we know we have to be aggressive. Let’s see how everything unfolds tomorrow."
Laurent Mekies, Racing Director
"We knew that, on paper, the characteristics of this track were not the best for our package, especially compared to our closest rivals. On top of that, it was not easy to find the right settings on such a bumpy track, especially as the drivers need to feel confident in the car to give their best, although that goes for everyone. All of us together worked a lot on this aspect yesterday and today, trying out various solutions. In the end, I think we succeeded in giving Charles and Carlos what they needed to get the most out of the SF21 and they responded in style throughout all of qualifying.
Tomorrow we can expect the race to be very tough on the drivers and the cars with very high temperatures expected, which will have an effect on tyre management, as the track surface is in any case very abrasive. Choosing the right strategy and executing it properly will be key. As usual we will be giving it our all. There are many Ferrari fans here in Austin and we would like to give them something to cheer about."