Charles Leclerc hints Ferrari might be sandbagging: "We have quite a bit in the locker"
Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc hinted that the Italian team might not have shown their hand after a disappointing start to the Saudi Arabian GP weekend on Friday.
The Scarlet team were unable to make an impact in the first two practice sessions as they finished P9 and P10 with Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, respectively, at the end of FP2.
However, the Monegaque driver was quietly confident about the SF-23's inherent pace and revealed that they might have some performance in their 'locker'. Speaking to Sky Sports, Leclerc said:
"I don't think we are that bad. Honestly, the feeling is pretty good but it is very difficult to read into the performance because everybody is doing different things with power, weight, etc.
"But the feeling was quite okay, and the race pace seems to be better than Bahrain so it's positive. We have quite a bit in the locker. How much? Let's see. I'm sure Red Bull still has something hidden, so we'll see tomorrow but I think it will be closer than what it is for now."
"I complained just to make sure that everything was fine" - Charles Leclerc
Charles Leclerc will take a 10-place grid penalty heading into the main race on Sunday due to taking on a new ECU in his power unit. He even complained about facing some power unit issues during the free practice and said:
"There were a few moments where I upshifted on kerbs which doesn't put the engine in the best situation, so I complained just to make sure that everything was fine."
Leclerc's teammate Carlos Sainz also agreed that the team feels a bit closer to Red Bull than Bahrain, adding:
"I feel closer than Bahrain. Our position today doesn't reflect our true pace. We look competitive in the long run so I am more positive going into the weekend."
"Red Bull are clear favorites but Aston Martin and Mercedes are there with us in terms of pace. The overall feeling, I feel closer. If it's enough to be on the podium or battle at the top we will see on Sunday."
It would be interesting to see if Ferrari had turned down the engines on Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz's cars on Friday and might have more performance on Saturday and Sunday.
Tifosi would dearly hope that is the case as they want to see Leclerc and Sainz take the fight to Red Bull this weekend.