Carlos Sainz predicts Ferrari will be ‘in the mix’, Charles Leclerc not so sure
The Ferrari drivers seemingly have different levels of optimism as the team gets set for the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi.
Having started the campaign strongly, winning two out of the first three races, Ferrari’s form has dramatically fallen away and they are without a win in the last 10 races.
Not only are they lagging behind Red Bull but the race last time out in Sao Paulo showed they were now trailing Mercedes as well with the Silver Arrows securing a one-two in Brazil.
With few upgrades being brought to the car, there is a small chance that form will alter in the final race of the season but Sainz is optimistic that they will be “in the mix” come lights out on Sunday.
“We should be in the mix,” he told Formula1.com. “Although Red Bull looks like they’re back on form and they should be the car to beat, especially Max [Verstappen] was super quick in the short run and in the long run, in every condition really.
“They’re going to be tough to beat but we’re going to be there in the fight I think with the Mercs and we should be okay.”
His team-mate Leclerc was less optimistic, predicting that they would do well in qualifying but may not have the race pace to match Mercedes and Red Bull.
“The last lap of Max was really quick, but he used one more tyre set so it’s difficult to compare because the track is improving a lot in those conditions, especially when the night starts to come.
“So we’ll have to wait tomorrow to see but I believe it will be closer in the quali than in the race.”
Sainz was on the back foot having sat out FP1 in place of Robert Shwartzman who was taking part in the session due to the young driver requirement for this season.
The Spaniard said it took him a moment to get the car back into the “sweet spot” and there was still work to do for FP3 and qualifying.
“It was a busy FP2 after just chilling in the garage in FP1,” the 28-year-old said.
“A lot of work to do to catch up in FP2, to get the car back into the sweet spot and and myself also used to the track and the grip that there is out there.
“Overall, we’ve managed to recover some good time but there’s still a lot to catch up in FP3 and quali.”
Read more: FP2 – Max Verstappen goes comfortably fastest under Abu Dhabi lights