Charles Leclerc and Ferrari sporting director Laurent Mekies say the Scuderia are not getting carried away, despite showing strong speed on Friday.
Leclerc ranked P2 and P3 respectively in both practice sessions on Friday, and was the driver lapping closest to Lewis Hamilton on average long-run pace as well in FP2 in particular.
While this would be cause for encouragement for the Scuderia, when presented with the idea, the team’s sporting director wasn’t convinced.
“For us at this moment, that’s not a parameter for Charles,” Mekies told Sky Italia. “What’s important is to keep building this weekend and improving the set-up of the car towards something that can give us another tenth, or two or three. This is what makes the difference in the outcome of the weekend.
“We will see the rest on Saturday afternoon or on Sunday morning. But right now we’re focused on adjusting the set-up, finding the direction in which we can free another tenth or two.”
— Scuderia Ferrari (@ScuderiaFerrari) October 8, 2021
Leclerc also erred on the side of caution, as he feels not everyone has quite gone all out in practice running so far.
“The feeling has been good all day but, again, we shouldn’t get carried away because I feel like the top teams have more to show,” he told Formula1.com.
“Everything looks positive for now, but again it’s only a Friday. For now, I want to keep my head down, keep working as hard as we can to try and fine-tune the car to have a perfect qualy tomorrow.”
On the other side of the Ferrari garage, Carlos Sainz spent his day prioritising his race set-up, given that his penalty for taking a new power unit will see him start from the back of the grid on Sunday.
While he has been using that time to perfect what he can for Sunday, Mekies said that he will take part in the first part of qualifying regardless, to potentially help Leclerc.
“I think with Carlos we will join Q1 in any case,” Mekies said. “It’s always interesting anyway to have some data compared to the other car or sometimes we can also learn something that can help the other car.
“It’s what we did last time [in Sochi], so I think we will join Q1 with Carlos and then we will probably stop there.
“The only other factor is if there will be other power unit changes in the grid, we’ll see in that case if it’s worth it to go on track more. But we will probably only join Q1.”
Additional reporting by Luca Brambilla