Despite ending up fourth on the timesheets in Friday’s Free Practice 2, Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr. admitted he was yet to extract the maximum from the car and that there some wrinkles to iron out.
“[We had] very different conditions compared to FP1,” Sainz told the media after the test. “In FP1, everything felt fairly normal and suddenly, there was a big change in wind and track conditions going into FP2, and it put the car’s balance a lot more on the edge. If you compare this to the McLaren, when the wind changed, I perfectly knew what the car was going to do, so I could anticipate and extract, independent of the conditions, 95% to 100% of the car. When you switch teams and cars, as soon as the conditions change, you don’t know how the car is going to react. So you’re always under-driving a bit. You don’t want to make stupid mistakes and you want to stay a bit below the limit of the car because you don’t know how the car is going to react.”
Knowing that he was still new to the team, Carlos Sainz Jr. talked about how he knew he had to stay “mentally disciplined” while talking to his engineers.
“I always say you need races, you need experience, you need to go through different conditions to know how the car reacts,” Carlos Sainz Jr. added. “It’s tricky, you need to stay mentally disciplined. You don’t want to give too many comments regarding the balance because you know you are also probably under-driving a bit. Today, I managed to adapt well in-between the sessions, I managed to feel reasonably at home in the car but tomorrow could be a completely different story as soon as the wind changes again. If the wind picks up tomorrow, I could be starting from scratch again and trying to find my feet little by little. The trick here is to just let the sessions go by, let the experience build, and be patient.”
Carlos Sainz Jr. and Ferrari impress on Friday
In what was a surprising turn of events, Ferrari were one of the more impressive midfield teams alongside McLaren, as the team showed good pace throughout the day. Charles Leclerc was impressive in the first free practice, while Carlos Sainz Jr. pulled out a lap good enough for fourth on the timesheet.
While it’s hard to tell what engine modes were being used by the rest of the grid, Ferrari and Carlos Sainz Jr. seem to be in the mix to fight for the honors of “best of the rest” behind Mercedes and Red Bull.