Leclerc puts focus on qualifying performance in Qatar

Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari SF-21. 19.11.2021 Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 20, Qatar Grand Prix, Doha, Qatar
© XPB 

Charles Leclerc said that he would be focussing on improving his qualifying pace in Qatar ahead of the all-important Saturday evening session in Qatar.

The Ferrari driver concentrated on long distance race pace in Friday's two practices, ending FP1 in seventh place a second off the top time, and just 13th in the evening after a late scare saw him run wide at turn 10.

"I really like the track here at Loisal, it is great. It’s always interesting to mix things up and see a new venue on the calendar," said the Monegasque driver after the end of the day's track activity.

"We put in a good number of laps across our two cars today, getting to know the characteristics of the circuit and gathering as much data as possible," he continued.

"Our main focus [tomorrow] will probably be on qualifying preparation, because our long-runs were already quite good.

"What will be key is balancing the first and last sectors, due to tyre overheating that is caused by the high temperatures here."

Leclerc's team mate Carlos Sainz was one place better in sixth in FP1, and was tenth under the floodlights.

Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) Ferrari SF-21. 19.11.2021 Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 20, Qatar Grand Prix, Doha, Qatar

"The first day on an unknown track is always exciting and challenging as it’s obviously a completely new experience," he said of Formula 1's first taste of Losail International Circuit, a MotoGP staple making its debut on the Grand Prix calendar.

"I think this track has surprised everyone with how fast it is and the speed we are doing around the corners," Sainz suggested. "That translates into having to work harder on the set-ups we originally had in mind and having to adapt throughout the day.

"We are not exactly where we want to be," he conceded. "We need to improve the car overnight because the competition is very tight.

"I have full confidence that we can manage it, and hopefully tomorrow we will be further up the order."

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