Despite showing an impressive turn of pace during Friday F1 practice for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Charles Leclerc doubts Ferrari will be able to maintain its challenge across the rest of the weekend.

Leclerc and Carlos Sainz ended both practice sessions at Imola inside the top six.

Had it not been for a track extension at Turn 9 on his fastest soft tyre effort in FP2, Leclerc would have topped the session.

Given Red Bull’s issues throughout the day and Mercedes failing to find significant gains on the softer rubber, Leclerc expects the gap to increase in qualifying on Saturday.

“It feels better than last year but we have to wait until tomorrow, when everyone is pushing in qualifying, because for now it’s difficult to believe we are so close to the top teams, and I’m pretty sure they have a lot more to come tomorrow, so let’s wait and see,” Leclerc said.

It was mostly a positive day for Leclerc, although he did end FP2 in the barriers, after losing control of his car at Rivazza.

“There has been a lot of positives, today. It hasn’t been an easy day on my side, but the performance has been great for me today. In FP1, unfortunately, we couldn’t run in the first part due to a small problem, but then the car felt good, the feeling was good,” Leclerc added.

“In FP2 it was good, we were very competitive, got our best lap time deleted for a very small margin in Turn 9 but the most important is not to do the same in qualifying. The performance was there too in the race pace, it was good, and then I did a mistake in the last corner and went into the wall but better to do it now than in the race.”

Reflecting on his two sessions of running at Imola, Sainz believes the cooler track temperatures are suiting the Ferrari SF21.

"I had a positive feeling today, Sainz said. "I think the car, particularly in these temperatures, looked to be working much better. On this kind of tarmac, I don’t know what it is, but you can feel some more grip and I’m enjoying it out there.

"I’m still not exploiting it fully because I still don’t know yet where the limit is – I haven’t reached it. But for that we have practice and we have tomorrow to little by little get closer to it."

 

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