Carlos Sainz Jr. was left feeling positive after the opening day of the Singapore Grand Prix weekend, with the Spaniard setting the fastest time of the day under the floodlights on Friday evening.
Scuderia Ferrari appeared to back up the strong pace they showed two weeks ago during the Italian Grand Prix, with Sainz finishing just behind team-mate Charles Leclerc in first practice before jumping ahead of him in the second.
Sainz felt Ferrari started the day with a car that felt good, and it was just a case of fine tuning it for the rest of the day. However, he knows Saturday will be a completely different day, and he knows the team will still need to improve if they are to fight for pole position.
“A positive Friday,” admitted Sainz. “The car seemed to be in the right window from the very first lap in FP1 so we kept focused on fine tuning the set-up during the second session.
“I expect the track to improve for tomorrow, so we should have higher grip and then we’ll see how much our competitors and ourselves can improve for qualifying.”
“I think that our competitors are not showing their true pace yet” – Charles Leclerc
Whilst feeling Ferrari did have a good day on Friday, Leclerc feels some of their main rivals, such as Oracle Red Bull Racing, have yet to show their true pace in Singapore.
The Monegasque racer had topped the opening session on Friday and had been on course to topple Sainz in the evening, only for a couple of small errors to cost him enough time to finish 0.018 seconds behind the Spaniard.
Red Bull appeared to struggle throughout the day, with Sergio Pérez and Max Verstappen down in seventh and eighth on Friday evening, and Leclerc believes there is still time for the team that is unbeaten in 2023 to come good.
“It was quite a good day,” said Leclerc. “The car looks a bit more competitive than we had expected on a track like this, but we shouldn’t get carried away because I think that our competitors are not showing their true pace yet.
“We will work on optimising the balance on my side overnight and I’m sure we will see some further improvements for tomorrow.”