Leclerc on his ‘OK’ Friday in Abu Dhabi: “Our competitors seem to be a step ahead”

Charles Leclerc admitted Scuderia Ferrari were struggling with their race pace performance during free practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Friday, but he is confident they can find that pace across the rest of the weekend.

The Monegasque driver finished third fastest in both free practice sessions at the Yas Marina Circuit, but it was not the one-lap pace that was the worry, with Leclerc feeling Oracle Red Bull Racing and maybe even the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team are ahead of them at this stage of the weekend.

Leclerc hopes to get answers overnight and look to improve the feeling of the car during Saturday’s final free practice session of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship season before the final Qualifying of 2022 later in the day.

“Overall, our sessions were ok,” said Leclerc.  “We struggled a bit with the race pace due to tyre degradation, which was expected.

“Our qualifying pace was a little better, but our competitors seem to be a step ahead.  We will use tomorrow’s practice to make further progress and give it our all for the last qualifying of the year.”

“I know we’ve got plenty of margin to improve tomorrow” – Carlos Sainz Jr.

Team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr. was busy during the second session on Friday, the Spaniard having sat out the first hour as Ferrari gave Robert Shwartzman his second outing of the season as part of their mandatory sessions for young drivers.

Sainz completed a session-high thirty-one laps under the floodlights in Abu Dhabi, with his best time three-tenths of a second off Leclerc’s and good enough for sixth place.

The one-time race winner knows there is plenty of scope to improve the F1-75 overnight and be in contention for pole position on Saturday and the race win on Sunday evening.

“It was a very busy FP2 for me after missing the first session, so it was all about catching up and getting into the rhythm as soon as possible,” said Sainz.

“The feeling on track wasn’t too bad but I know we’ve got plenty of margin to improve tomorrow. I’m looking forward to the last qualifying of the year.”

Carlos Sainz Jr. sat out FP1 to allow Robert Shwartzman to run instead – Credit: Scuderia Ferrari Press Office