“Still a lot of work for us to do” — Leclerc keeping his feet on the ground after going fastest in FP1 and FP2 at F1 Imola GP

Photo Credit: Scuderia Ferrari
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Ferrari went fastest in FP1 and FP2 as the hugely popular Charles Leclerc pleased the Tifosi in both Friday sessions.

The 26-year-old was 0.104s quicker than George Russell in opening practice, and he backed it up in FP2 by outpacing Oscar Piastri by 0.192s.

The Scuderia has brought sizeable updates to Imola. Changes have been made to the front and rear wings, the sidepod inlet, engine cover, floor edge and diffuser.

On the evidence of Friday, it looks to be working well.

“For now, everything went quite smoothly,” said Leclerc. “The feeling with the car is quite good, the upgrades on the car are working as expected which also is a good step. And yeah, it’s been a very smooth day so it is great, and being at home is always a special feeling for Ferrari, being here and having so much support all over the track means so much for all of us.”

Nonetheless, Leclerc is keeping his feet firmly on the ground. He is wary of the wind direction change that will come tomorrow, and he says Ferrari must get their car tweaks right in order to continue their strong form.

“It will be great if the weekend continues in that direction. However, tomorrow the conditions will change massively. The wind will completely turn around, which will have a big effect on all the cars, and there we have to be the best at anticipating those changes.

“We need to keep our feet on the ground, because tomorrow is going to be big changes with the track conditions.”

Regarding qualifying, Leclerc is fully aware of the difficulties of trying to overtake at Imola. Putting it on pole is absolutely vital around here as the track is very narrow, especially with such a tight fight between a couple of teams.

“Track position here is absolutely everything, so qualifying will be super important and it will be important for us to do the job in qualifying. So there is still a lot of work for us to do, and we will give it our all to have a great qualifying tomorrow.”

As for Carlos Sainz, his day was slightly tricker as he had a couple of excursions through the grass at the chicane of turns 14 and 15.

Sainz was 0.130s off Leclerc in FP1 as he finished P3, but the 3-time race winner fell to 6th in the afternoon, 0.517s slower than his stablemate.

The Spanish driver will revert to his FP1 set-up as he felt more comfortable with that.

“I’m feeling good.

“I had a good FP1, I felt really at home with the car and then we used FP2 as a bit of a test session to try a couple of things.

“It’s been a long time since we had the opportunity to test since it’s been two Sprint weekends in a row. We wanted to test a couple of items, explore a bit the car set-up, probably went in the wrong direction but we will go back to the FP1 set-up and probably feel stronger again tomorrow.”

As Sainz stated, this is the first standard weekend since Japan as China and Miami held the first Sprints of 2024.

It’s given Ferrari the opportunity to try some different set-ups on the car, and this weekend seems them run with their updated package for the first time.

“It’s been a while, as I said, since we could test and back to back some things.

“Regarding the upgrades, honestly across different circuits you don’t feel them, you just hope they are making you go faster. I think the right moment to evaluate will be at the end of the weekend once everyone has shown all of their cards.”