Charles Leclerc admits Ferrari was expecting its low-fuel qualifying runs to be “a bit worse” during practice at Monza, stating the pace was “quite positive” as he targets a spot in Q3 on Saturday.
Ferrari has endured a difficult start to the 2020 season, with its poor on-track performance seeing it drop into the midfield group.
Ahead of the Italian Grand Prix weekend, it was expected that Ferrari would suffer at the high-speed circuit, as its straight-line performance has been lacking this year.
Leclerc ended free practice two in ninth place, declaring that the qualifying simulations were positive for Ferrari – although the Monegasque driver acknowledges that gains must be found when running with a high-fuel load.
“I think we expected a bit worse on the low fuel runs, but then on the high fuel, we expected a bit better,” Leclerc said.
“So we definitely need to try and find something for the race otherwise it’s going to be very, very difficult.
“We seem to struggle quite a lot with the balance and the overall degradation of the tyres during the high-fuel run.
“So there’s definitely a lot on that, but quite positive to see our qualifying pace.”
Leclerc says that Q3 is the aim for Ferrari on Sunday, but knows it will be a tough ask amid such a closely-fought midfield battle.
“Hopefully into Q3, but I think it will be very close,” Leclerc said. “For now, realistically, we don’t have the performance to get into Q3 but we are close to it.”
Leclerc’s teammate Sebastian Vettel struggled with the car throughout the day, spinning at the first Lesmo corner during FP2.
The four-time world champion says while Ferrari is continuing to struggle along the straights, its performance through corners is also unpleasant.
“The car is difficult to drive, but it’s not the first time,” Vettel said. “Where are we lacking? Down the straights as expected, but in terms of where we want to have a better car to drive, we’re lacking grip on corner entry.
“Pretty much all four wheels are sliding quite a lot. It’s a handful but it’s very difficult to get everything right, to get the lap together.
“But we’re trying to make that a bit better for tomorrow.”