Carlos Sainz believes it is “only a matter of time” before he matches Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc’s one-lap pace after dropping out in Q2 during qualifying for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

Sainz could only manage 11th in qualifying at Imola, while Leclerc qualified fourth for the second race in succession.

The Spaniard is confident he has the capability of matching Leclerc in qualifying but needs more time to adapt to the Ferrari SF21.

“Yes, exactly. I know he’s a qualifying expert and, particularly on the Ferrari he seems to be really at home, knowing exactly what to expect from the car when it comes to Q2 and Q3, high grip conditions – he’s an expert, a very, very good driver – but at the same time if there’s something I’ve seen in these first two races is that I’m not slower than him in any corner.

“I know that if I put the lap together I can be up there, so it’s now a matter of focusing on how to put those laps together, what does he do and what can I do to get better at putting those laps together. Maybe I just need more time and more experience. Let’s see, but I’m encouraged by what I see on the data, and it’s only a matter of time.”

Looking ahead to Sunday’s race, Leclerc feels Ferrari is in a better position to maintain its strong qualifying performance after struggling for race pace in the Bahrain season-opener.

“Yeah, I mean yesterday I believed that we could have done very well,” Leclerc added. “Today after this morning I had a bit more doubt as McLaren seemed competitive then in quali Lando was more competitive but overall we were quite good, but P4 is a good starting point for tomorrow’s race.

“I think we will be better here in the race if we compare to Bahrain, just because of the conditions, we struggled with the warm conditions in Bahrain but we are more confident going into the race tomorrow.”

 

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