Leclerc feeling positive about Ferrari's chances in Hungary


Charles Leclerc was talking up Ferrari's prospects this weekend in Hungary, saying that things were looking positive for the team after topping today's second practice session.

The first practice was more or less washed out leaving Leclerc a meaningless seventh, but he was able to pip Lando Norris to the top spot in a dry FP2 albeit by a slender 0.015s.

"It was a good day overall," the Monegasque declared in the paddock at the Hungaroring after the end of the session. "We did everything we planned to do and the feeling in the car was pretty good, so this is positive.

"Let’s see what we can do tomorrow," he added.

However Leclerc wasn't assigning much importance to the relative finishing positions today. All four Red Bull and Mercedes drivers ended up outside the top ten as a result of their strategy to deal with the controversial new tyre allocation system.

As well as reducing the number of tyres available to to each driver, the new rules require hard tyres to be used in Q1, medium in Q2 and soft in Q3. It means teams were conserving tyres today and worrying about performance on all compounds.

"It's still difficult to read into the other teams’ performance as everyone is running different programmes in light of the new format," Leclerc acknowledged.

"It is something we expected being the first weekend on this format, with everyone trying different things," he continued. "It's nice because we will go into qualifying not really knowing where we are. I'm sure that's exciting."

Leclerc said Ferrari's strategy was just to focus on their own programme and not get distracted by what other teams were trying.

Ferrari - Friday Free Practice - Hungarian GP - July 21 2023

© Ferrari

Red Bull had decided to limit its running: "They only used one set in FP2 so we still expect them to be the strongest team," Leclerc pointed out.

"We just need to focus on ourselves. We know where we need to improve the car, there were some corners where I wasn't confident," he said. "It is very clear where we need to work."

Leclerc's team mate Carlos Sainz was tenth quickest in FP2 after suffering a minor accident in FP1 in which he slid off the track and grazed the barrier, triggering a red flag before he got back underway.

Ferrari - Friday Free Practice - Hungarian GP - July 21 2023

© Ferrari

"It was a strange Friday," was the Spaniard's view of how things had gone today. "FP1 was affected by the rain and in FP2 we had to work taking into account the new format we will run this weekend.

"In the short run I had quite a bit of traffic with the high fuel runners while in the long run I felt a bit better even if we didn’t do too many laps.

"Overall there is margin to improve ahead of tomorrow so we’ll get on with it straight away."

Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari SF-23. 21.07.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 12, Hungarian Grand Prix, Budapest, Hungary, Practice Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Charniaux / XPB Images

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