Leclerc doubts Ferrari pace is representative in Baku, plays down crash

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Charles Leclerc doubts Ferrari will maintain the strong results they achieved in practice at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on Friday.

After an impressive Monaco, the Scuderia appears to have carried that pace to Baku, sitting as the second-best team after Red Bull in both sessions.

However, Leclerc, who was fourth quickest and just three-tenths off the pace set by Sergio Perez for Red Bull, anticipates Ferrari may not even be the best midfield team come qualifying.

“McLaren are very, very quick, but they haven’t shown it for some reason today,” said the Monegasque.

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“Maybe it was less of a clean day compared to us, but I feel that they are still a bit ahead of us here, so we’ll have to wait and see tomorrow.

“Definitely Red Bull and Mercedes – I don’t really know what happened with them, but I’m pretty sure they will be in front, and it will be basically a fight with McLaren, that are our main competitors, so we need to make sure we do everything perfect because they are doing very few mistakes this year.

“So we are going to try and maximise our potential and hopefully we can be ahead of them tomorrow in qualifying.”

Leclerc's day was slightly inconvenienced by a bump against the barrier during Practice 2, dislodging his front wing and bringing back a few memories of a similar crash at Turn 8 in 2019...

“I actually felt quite comfortable in the car today, especially on braking. Maybe a bit too comfortable and pushed a little bit too much into Turn 15," he explained.

"But in the end, that’s what it’s for, the free practice. I’ve been trying a little bit the limits, I was on a good lap on that one, and let’s see tomorrow.”

While Ferrari's single lap pace might be strong, Leclerc's concern may come on Sunday, as the SF21 appeared to struggle on its tyres during the race run.

“It is graining a lot,” teammate Carlos Sainz, who was third quickest, revealed. “Red Bull did particularly a strong long run, which showed us that they probably have something more to come tomorrow, while we were decent on the short run, but then on the long run, I think we still need to analyse how we can get those rear tyres to work a bit better in the window.”