Things did not run smoothly for Charles Leclerc in free practice in Mexico, with several issues hampering his progress on Friday.
The Ferrari driver began proceedings by complaining about the significant amount of dust on track when practice running started, with the circuit not having been used for motorsport for well over a year.
That slippery surface caused an early spin for the Monegasque, who lost grip heading into Turn 16, spinning his Ferrari around and causing damage to his rear wing in the process – although he was able to get back to the pits for repairs.
In FP2, Leclerc also reported that his car was “bouncing like crazy” and he could not control it at high speed, then subsequently reporting an engine problem that forced him back into the garage.
Suffice to say that it was a tough day for the 24-year-old, but ahead of the weekend, he spoke of his hopes for another solid result at a circuit where he expects to perform well.
Charles Leclerc 🤝 Sergio Perez
— PlanetF1 (@Planet_F1) November 5, 2021
“I’d like more a victory, then I don’t care about the other positions too much,” Leclerc told Sky Italia. “Then for sure it’s been a good year when I look at the performance, but for sure when I look at the points I’m a little disappointed because there were some missed opportunities as I said many times.
“On paper it’s a bit more positive track for us than Austin, for the car of this year. Then every year is different, but, yes, it’s more positive than the last race.
“So let’s hope that’s really the case and that we can finish with both the cars ahead of McLaren. And as I said, if there’s an opportunity for the podium, even better.”
Ferrari sporting director Laurent Mekies spoke after practice and echoed Leclerc in saying beating McLaren remains the focus for the Scuderia this weekend.
Despite the issues on track on Friday, he added that he will wait until qualifying to fully assess where his team are in the pecking order.
“We’re focused especially on being in the lead of this midfield,” Mekies told Sky Italia. “We saw that anyway McLaren will be there, Pierre [Gasly] went very fast this morning. Our eyes are turned towards them.
“But actually, as we often say, Friday is a day where we are focused on our schedule, then we will see tomorrow after FP3 where we are compared to the others. We believe anyway that Mercedes and Red Bull will go very fast so this will not be our race this weekend.”
Additional reporting by Luca Brambilla