Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow had a trouble-free Friday of free practice for the Portuguese Grand Prix, which takes place this Sunday at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve di Portimao near Portimao.
In the first free practice session, Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz started off running the Hard tyre as they got used to the track, notable for its many changes of gradient and a low level of grip, which was made even worse because of rain in the past few days. On this compound, they posted times of 1'20"759 and 1'20"858 respectively. In the second half of the session, both SF21s were fitted with the Soft tyres that Charles and Carlos used to set their best times. The Monegasque stopped the clocks in 1'19"884, while the Spaniard lapped in 1'20"680. They each completed 27 laps.
In the second hour, Sainz and Leclerc started off on the Medium tyres. Carlos did a 1'20"197, while Charles posted a 1'20"987. Halfway through the session, the team went for a qualifying simulation, with both drivers running the Softs: Sainz now managed a 1'20"197, while Leclerc did a 1'20"360. For the final twenty minutes the work involved running in race configuration, with both drivers lapping at a pretty consistent pace. Over the course of both sessions, the team also evaluated some parts that might be used in the upcoming races.
Charles Leclerc: It was quite a good start to the weekend. It was fun to drive, the track was very slippery and especially with the wind it was tricky. It's a real pleasure to drive in these conditions. You are always on the limit with the car and I really enjoy that.
FP2 was a lot of fun, there were a lot of gusts of wind all around the track. We completed the whole programme we had planned and it looks like we are quite competitive. The short runs were good, the long-runs a little bit less so and I think that is the main weakness for me today so I still have to work on that. We are all very close and I think it will come down to who makes the least mistakes in qualifying and the race.
I hope it will be a good weekend for us and that we can build on this positive first day.
Carlos Sainz: Another positive Friday, another day of building experience with the car. We are maintaining our positive learning curve, as this weekend the conditions and the tarmac are very different to the previous venues. Bahrain and Imola were high-grip tracks, while here in Portimao it was quite slippery and really windy today. I like the challenge of having to find the grip where there isn't any! Last year, I really enjoyed racing here a lot.
We are fully focused on tomorrow. We saw in Imola that Friday may be misleading when comparing our one lap pace to our competitors, so we are wary of that. I think the key to the weekend is going to be understanding the tyres, as we set similar times on Soft and Mediums. We need to master the car's behaviour with the different compounds, understand how to warm up the tyres properly and then identify when is the right time to try and set the fastest lap. Looking forward to tomorrow. Vamos!
Check out our Friday gallery from Portimao, here.