Sainz and Leclerc admit surprise at Ferrari’s Singapore pace

Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz react to their impressive pace in practice at the Singapore GP on Friday

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Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc have admitted they are surprised at their pace at the 2023 Singapore Grand Prix, after a perfect Friday at the Marina Bay Street Circuit.

Sainz led Leclerc in a Ferrari 1-2 in the second practice session, which is representative of the night conditions which qualifying and the race are held in.

The Spaniard was 0.235 seconds ahead of third-placed George Russell, with both Red Bulls of Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen another half a second behind.

“We are surprised but we are not getting carried away either,” Leclerc told F1 TV. “It’s only Friday and we expect the other teams to show more of their true potential.

“We can’t get carried away but it’s true that we did not expect this kind of performance, on a Friday at least. It’s a good start but now we need to focus on ourselves and produce.”

Charles Leclerc in action during practice at the 2023 Singapore GP | Scuderia Ferrari

Sainz, who was also asked if Ferrari‘s pace was unexpected, answered: “Yeah, a little. But at the same time you always need to arrive at Singapore very open-minded. We have seen in the past very weird performance swings at this track. It’s a very particular track.

“So far it looks like it’s suiting our car well and it’s going well with the way we hit the ground running in FP1 and just fine tuned the setup a bit for FP2 and be a bit quicker.

“It looks good but I believe the track is going to change a lot. It’s going to ramp up the grip a lot and it’s all about who will find the perfect setup.”

Ferrari not reading too much into Red Bull pace

The biggest surprise was Red Bull‘s lack of pace as Verstappen and Perez struggled with the rear and were losing a lot of time in the first sector, suggesting they were not able to get their tyres into the right window at the start of the lap.

Red Bull are unbeaten in 2023 but Singapore has a habit of changing the pecking order, due to the unique bumpy and twisty nature of the track.

Sainz, who took pole last time out at the Italian GP, feels Red Bull will be in contention for the front row though come Q3 on Saturday.

“It definitely looks like there are people that have a lot of upgrades,” Sainz explained. “We might see that they fine tune them, understand them better and find a lot of performance.

“For us, we haven’t really brought anything, it’s just a small tweak to what we had. We are focusing on understanding our car around here.

“We tested a couple things on setup that I wanted to try around this kind of track and it looked like it worked and going in the right direction. So let’s see if we can put in another good lap and be on the front row.

Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz talk to each other at the 2023 Singapore GP | Scuderia Ferrari

“I don’t believe it [Red Bull‘s lack of pace]. When you look at their long run pace they have the strongest car. Once they sort out their one-lap pace they will be there fighting for pole. Hopefully we can be in that fight.

“It also looks like Aston Martin, McLaren and Mercedes should also be in that fight, so we are in for an exciting day and hopefully we can get the best out of it.”

Leclerc added: “It’s going to be very close, for sure. I expect the others to be much faster, so let’s see.

“I hope we won’t have any bad surprises and be less competitive than what we think we are at the moment. But for now everything looks good. I hope it will be the same on Saturday.”

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