Leclerc surprised by ‘very competitive’ Ferrari

Charles Leclerc admits he was surprised Ferrari was so competitive in Friday practice for the Turkish Grand Prix, given the feeling inside the car.

Ferrari finished third and fourth in very low-grip conditions in Istanbul last year but the teams have been faced with a much quicker track so far this weekend with significantly faster lap times on Friday. Despite that change, Leclerc excelled with the second-best time of FP2 and competitive long-run pace too, but isn’t sure why Ferrari appears so close to Mercedes and Red Bull at this stage.

“There’s much more grip but the feeling is still relatively similar, which is a bit strange — still sliding around quite a bit to do the lap time,” Leclerc said. “But there’s just more grip and the lap times are much, much quicker. 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.

“Also on high fuel it’s been looking good, so everything looks positive for now. But again it’s only a Friday, so for now I want to keep my head down, keep working as hard as I can to try and fine-tune the car to have a perfect qualifying tomorrow.”

Despite admitting he has to work hard for the lap time behind the wheel, Leclerc says it’s a car characteristic that he likes and he hopes remains the case in qualifying in order to boost his chances.

“I feel quite happy with that — whenever the rear is moving like that I am quite at ease with it. I like to play with the rear of the car to rotate the car, and it seems to work pretty good for now. We are very competitive, so I wouldn’t change that much on that side, but I think on the race run we still have a bit of work to do.”

While wet weather could mix things up on Saturday, Leclerc is not against a rain-hit qualifying session although he admits it could impact Ferrari’s hopes, depending on how severe the conditions are.

“If it rains I don’t know. In some places like here last year we have been extremely competitive in the rain with intermediates; with the wets it’s a little bit more difficult for us. So let’s see how much it rains.”