Charles Leclerc says Ferrari’s one-lap pace in Portugal “looks quite promising” but is unsure whether its race pace will be as strong.
Ferrari is enduring its worst campaign in 40 years but has inched forwards in recent events after gradually introducing updates to its recalcitrant SF1000.
Ferrari has had the third-fastest package in qualifying at two of the last three events in the hands of Leclerc but has slipped back in race trim.
Leclerc finished fourth in both of Friday’s practice sessions at Portimao and was buoyed by the pace of the car on low fuel runs.
“It looked quite good today,” he said. “Let’s wait and see, we haven’t done much high fuel running with normal tyres, we did dome with the prototype tyres, and that was our weakness in the last race.
“It will be a bit of a surprise on Sunday when we’ll see where we’ll be, but on the qualifying pace looks quite promising
“The car is a little bit difficult to drive at the moment but it looks like the same for everyone in the paddock.
“I guess it will be up to the guy who does best lap without making any mistakes in qualifying and we’ll try to extract the maximum out of the car.”
Ferrari’s pace was reinforced by Sebastian Vettel, who took sixth, but the four-time World Champion was quick to downplay his position.
“In the end it was one lap time and not everybody got their lap in because we saw today that you needed more running; one, probably for the drivers to get in the rhythm, second, mostly for the tyres,” he said.
“I think we’ll see the true picture tomorrow but it felt quite OK. I mean, the car is a bit all over the place also due to the elevation changes, but I think that’s the same for everyone.”