Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Imola, 2021

Ferrari’s unexpected speed keeps Leclerc smiling despite crash

2021 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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Charles Leclerc is “looking forward” to showing the pace of his Ferrari SF21 in qualifying for the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix on Saturday, but isn’t sure if Ferrari’s practice position is real.

The team was third fastest across Friday’s two practice sessions. Leclerc even set a quicker time than the pace-setting Mercedes at one stage, but his 1’15.367 lap was swiftly deleted as he strayed beyond the track limits at Piratella.

Instead of finishing the day 0.184 seconds up on Mercedes, he ended second practice 0.820s off the pace and in the barriers. He crashed at Rivazza 2 following a late switch to medium compound tyres.

“Actually there are a lot of positives today,” Leclerc said. “It’s not been an easy day on my side, but the performance has been great for me today.

“Unfortunately we didn’t do the first part of FP1 for a small problem, but then the car felt good, the feeling was good.”

Leclerc’s day ended in the barrier at Rivazza 2
Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto revealed the problem originated in the power unit, and was worked on so that Leclerc could go on track after the red flag stoppage in first practice, and then run trouble-free in the next session.

“FP2 [was] very competitive,” added Leclerc. “We got our lap time deleted for very small margins in turn nine. But most important is not to do the same in quali.

“But the performance was there too. Also the race pace was good. Then I did a mistake in the last corner and went into the wall. Better do it now than in the race.”

Leclerc put Ferrari’s Mercedes-rivalling pace down to the track rather than changes the team have made since Bahrain.

“It’s all track and temperature-specific because we haven’t changed the car at all. But the car feels a lot better in those conditions.

“The car feels great this weekend, even if we compare to last year. I like the balance of [it].

“If you compare to last year, it felt much better this weekend. The grip is good, the balance is good and I have quite a bit of confidence in the car. So I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

Despite his optimism, Leclerc said “for now it’s difficult to believe we are so close to the top teams”. He added he’s “pretty sure they have a bit more to come” in qualifying.

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2021 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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Author information

Elliot Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching Photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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13 comments on “Ferrari’s unexpected speed keeps Leclerc smiling despite crash”

  1. 3, 2, 1, do I hear Toto call out Ferrari danger?

    1. I hear Aston Fartin crying as they copied someone’s homework but it was wrong but they cannot adjust because they have no idea of the methodology.

      Reply moderated
  2. Charles’ and Carlos’ driving styles are complete opposites. their different trajectories are interesting to compare. In the end of the day Charles looked a good .5 or more quicker.

  3. Omg now Ferrari even ahead of Mercedes. Red Bull > Ferrari > Mercedes. Which next team going to surpass Mercedes? Alpine?

  4. According to AMuS, Ferrari and Alpha Tauri used more power for their low fuel runs on the Softs. Ferrari gained 0.3 and Alpha Tauri 0.5 on the straights (especially uphill sections) compared to Mercedes.
    Mercedes have turned the engine down a bit on their runs on the Softs, because they were doing some calibration work on the engines.
    The race pace on the Ferrari and Alpha Tauri looks good as well, almost a full second ahead of the rest of the midfield and suspiciously close to the Mercedes. I think both teams have enough pace to get through Q2 on the mediums and I expect at least one Ferrari (or Alpha Tauri) on the 2nd row tomorrow.

    1. Bold prediction, colour me surprised if it happens, without there being an obvious problem for a merc or a red.

    2. Candidshadow
      17th April 2021, 9:00

      A Ferrari powered car above third row won’t happen unless one of the other has a fault, makes a major mistake, or is penalised. I’d love to see ferrari back where it ought to be, but there’s a level of realism we should maintain.

      Reply moderated
    3. Wow, this is really surprising, bottas managed to outdo himself and end up 8th, opening the way to a ferrari 4th, grats on the prediction, even though norris, if the lap time hadn’t been deleted for a few cm, would’ve stopped that.

      1. Bottas has proven that Mercedes has now demoted to the 4th best car, it took Hamilton mammoth effort to put the Mercedes on pole, well done.

        1. Nah, 4th best car is exagerated, bottas isn’t a special driver, hamilton is a top driver but he won’t bring the 4th car on pole, I’m guessing they’re very little between merc and red bull and they’re still ahead of mclaren and ferrari.

          1. There’s*

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