Scuderia Ferrari is still looking for the perfect set-up in Austin. The italian outfit put both drivers into the top ten in Texas, but something is still lacking if the Prancing Horse wants to beat McLaren in the championship fight.
Charles Leclerc ended FP1 with the fourth fastest time overall; he then improved his lap time by 8 tenths, but could only put himself in seventh. The Maranello team chose to diversify its drivers programe during FP2, leaving Leclerc on mediums for the long run simulation. The yellow compound seems to be the best to wear for the start of the race, as the hot temperatures in Austin does not help the tyre wear, especially with the soft.
“It feels great to be back in the United States. The atmosphere here is always so special, both at the circuit and around the city of Austin. Everyone is really friendly and enthusiastic and it’s been great to already see fans waving their flags and supporting us in the grandstands today" said Leclerc at the end of the day.
"In terms of our sessions, we ran through the planned programme, testing a bit of everything. What was challenging were the bumps on the track which made it very tricky to drive" the Monegasque continued, as he also lost his SF21 in FP1 with a headspin.
"With temperatures running quite high, tyre management was a key factor. Tyres overheated, especially in the third sector. You have to find a perfect balance between pushing in the first sector while losing time in the last one, or saving the tyres in the first part to be quicker at the end of your lap. We will do some more work in FP3 to understand how to optimise this ahead of qualifying tomorrow".
Carlos Sainz closed FP1 just behind his team mate in fifth, but ended the second practice session in 9th, as he couldn't clock up a festest time because of traffic in sector three. The Spaniard kept the soft compound for his long run simulation, but apart from the high temperatures, Sainz believes Ferrari is in good shape for the weekend.
“It’s good to be back in Austin! The track felt great as always, right from the start. It’s a great circuit and very enjoyable to drive. It’s got bumpier over the years but I think it gives character to the track and it presents new challenges for the cars and the drivers.
"We tried different set ups today and improved a bit from FP1 to FP2. Overall, I’m happy with our Friday and the pace is promising, taking into account I got traffic in Sector 3 of my fast lap and couldn’t close an otherwise good looking lap - said Sainz - track temperature was very high today and that obviously had an effect on the long runs, where degradation appeared quickly on the Softs. That could make things tricky come Sunday, so we’ll keep an eye on it".