charles leclerc ferrari

Leclerc dominates friday practice at Emilia Romagna Grand Prix

Formula 1May 18, 00:18
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc showcased his driving prowess by leading both Friday practice sessions at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
Utilizing Ferrari’s first significant upgrade of the season, Leclerc clocked in 0.192 seconds faster than McLaren’s Oscar Piastri, with the RB of Yuki Tsunoda unexpectedly securing third place.
McLaren’s Lando Norris was on track to match Leclerc's pace but ran wide at the final corner, resulting in an aborted lap and a final position of 12th fastest.
Championship leader Max Verstappen faced challenges, ending the session seventh due to struggles with his car in the fast corners of the middle sector.
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton recorded the fourth-fastest time, 0.391 seconds behind Leclerc, closely followed by his teammate George Russell. Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz finished sixth, while Red Bull’s Sergio Perez and Haas driver Nico Hulkenberg rounded out the top ten.

Verstappen's struggles

Verstappen’s frustration was evident as he repeatedly expressed concerns about his car's performance over the radio. In the morning session, the three-time champion grappled with grip issues at the Acque Minerale corners.
By the afternoon, he was battling inconsistent front-end grip, nearly spinning at one point.
Verstappen described the day as “difficult,” noting significant challenges in achieving a balanced setup and consistent performance. He emphasized the need for improvements to be competitive in the upcoming sessions.

Leclerc's smooth sailing

In stark contrast, Leclerc appeared at ease in the upgraded Ferrari, which featured revised aerodynamics. He praised the team’s developments, stating, “For now, everything went quite smoothly.
The feeling with the car is good, the upgrades are working as expected, and it has been a very smooth day.”
Leclerc highlighted the importance of qualifying, especially with the expected shift in wind direction that could significantly impact car performance. He emphasized the need for Ferrari to adapt quickly to maintain their competitive edge.

Norris and Piastri show promise

Despite finishing 12th, Norris demonstrated competitive pace, particularly in the second sector.
Reflecting on his day, he remarked, “Pretty reasonable day. Little bit of a messy P1. Not the cleanest day but we made a really good step from P1 to P2, and it felt really good out there.”
Oscar Piastri also showed potential, topping the race-simulation runs later in the session, narrowly beating Leclerc, Norris, and Hamilton.

Mixed fortunes for other teams

While Tsunoda’s one-lap speed stood out, it did not translate into long-run performance, hinting that RB might have been running lighter on fuel or with higher engine settings during qualifying simulations.
Mercedes drivers were optimistic about their upgrades, with Russell noting, “The car’s feeling great today, and Lewis and I both had a really good feeling behind the wheel.”
Russell, however, considered McLaren to be the quickest team, stating, “McLaren still look the favourites and are probably the quickest again.”
As the teams prepare for the crucial qualifying session, all eyes will be on how they adapt to changing conditions and the effectiveness of their upgrades.
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