“I think it all looked pretty close, but it’s more down to tire management. Because they really don’t let you shoot. With a low degradation circuit, I think the lap times are all very close. So it’s definitely not like Bahrain.” At the end of the second free practice session, max verstappen I anticipated a different scenario from the first race, where Red Bull dominated at will. Although his partials in long runs and fast lap did not suggest such a sweet panorama. the pilots of Mercedes recognized that after studying the Bahrain GP again they considered that the Austrian cars had “an advantage of 1.5 seconds”. In other words, almost half of his advantage would have been hidden up his sleeve.
“Ferrari has something more in the motork and, behind us, at least it seems that there is going to be an exciting fight between Alpine, Fernando Alonso and, to a certain extent, Ferrari.” Marko Helmut He seemed to belie his pilot by tacitly acknowledging that Red Bull continues to have a comfortable margin. But Where will Ferrari be? Because the Italian team, or was ambushed, or did not offer as much fuse as expected. Everything indicated that we will have to wait, but he was not considered Red Bull’s rival on Friday, if he has one.
🇸🇦 Intense day in Jeddah, an unusual circuit with very peculiar characteristics. Performance remains to be found, but the car is doing quite well. The race pace was decent and tomorrow we will squeeze the classification.👉https://t.co/H2gLjo4Jgd– #CarlosSainz pic.twitter.com/M6BDfgDU1f
– Carlos Sainz (@Carlossainz55) March 17, 2023
much to prove
The fact that Red Bull’s advantage is not repeated in Jeddah does not mean that the difference does not continue to exist. But among the first eight classified there was only half a second , at least on the fastest lap. From within the car, the Dutchman will know how to calibrate these differences better than the rest based on the runs carried out by the rivals. In the case of Ferrari, the Italian team seemed not to have deployed its full potential.
Apart from Leclerc’s sanction (10 places before a third control unit), the two cars received new combustion units. Obviously, it did not imply a penalty, a decision that Ferrari argued as a “precautionary measure”. Hence perhaps the strategy of not squeezing the engines on Friday, on the one hand. On the other, given the need to work on the pace of the race and the numerous novelties that Leclerc and Sainz tested on Friday.
Ferrari recognized that its objective was to “accumulate a large number of laps”, to the point that between Sainz and Leclerc they added 106 between them, the equivalent of two grand prix (50 laps in Saudi Arabia). In the first session, the Spaniard finished seventh, behind Leclerc’s eleventh. Both worked in long runs with soft and hard compounds to assess their performance.
In the second, Leclerc and Sainz set discrete times with the soft ones: 1’30”341 and 1’30”592. not looking for a quick turn, they finished ninth and tenth in the final table. They then both repeated the same long run program from the first session. It was evident that Ferrari was shooting with very specific objectives, and without taking out all the gunpowder in one lap. Although among its pilots a certain optimism was hinted at despite the relatively discreet weather.
One team ❤️ pic.twitter.com/pbZeqZvJP3
— Scuderia Ferrari (@ScuderiaFerrari) March 17, 2023
“It has been an intense day here in Jeddah. It is a very unusual circuit with very peculiar characteristics, which requires specific work to achieve a good balance. There is still some performance to be found, but in general it seems that the car sits in the correct window. The race pace has been decent and tomorrow we will focus on maximizing the result during qualifying”, hinting that Ferrari has carried out a program that is not flashy in terms of times but effective in results. Sainz’s session on softs had been very similar to Verstappen’s, although with mediums it differed up to three tenths of a difference.
Leclerc was moderately optimistic at the end: “It’s hard to get an idea of our competitiveness as everyone is on a different program so far. The feeling in the car is quite good”, summed up the Monegasque at the end of the day. Will Alpine and Aston Martin really be rivals for Ferrari? It would be the last thing missing in Maranello.