Leclerc ‘realistic’ about Ferrari’s Hungary pace

Date published: July 30 2021 - Henry Valantine

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari

Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz admitted that, while the Hungaroring should suit Ferrari’s strengths, they’re not getting ahead of themselves about their prospects.

It was a mixed Friday showing from the Scuderia, as Leclerc and Sainz took an impressive P4 and P7 in first practice, but neither driver could break into the top 10 while running their qualifying simulations in FP2.

Leclerc drove brilliantly to take P2 behind Lewis Hamilton at the British Grand Prix and, although he was visibly frustrated at not taking victory on the day, he is not expecting miracles from his SF21 this time around in Budapest.

“I don’t like dreaming, I prefer being realistic,” Leclerc told Sky Italia ahead of the weekend. “For sure it’s a track that on paper is one of the best for us.

“I don’t think we have to expect a level of performance like the one in Monaco or Silverstone where we fight for the podium because Mercedes and Red Bull remain the strongest cars. But you never know.

“For sure if there is the opportunity, I’ll go for that opportunity. But what we can aim for sure and our most important goal today is to try to be ahead of all the midfield, that we’re fighting at this moment and that is a realistic target and we believe we can do that.”

Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari merchandise is available via the official Formula 1 store

Sainz has been hot on Leclerc’s heels throughout the season so far in the Drivers’ Championship, with the pair reeling in the gap to McLaren in front of them in the Constructors’ after their strong outing at Silverstone.

Leclerc took pole in the high-downforce settings of Monaco earlier in the year and, with Hungary boasting similar characteristics to Monte Carlo, Sainz feels that Ferrari should be in the hunt to be ‘best of the rest’ behind Red Bull and Mercedes on Sunday.

“It’s a more Ferrari track than the last ones, that is sure,” he said. “A Ferrari track like Monaco, I think not. Because Hungaroring is not Monaco, it is not Baku, the corners are much faster than in Monaco and Baku.

“So, we can’t say it’s a Ferrari track but for sure it’s a better track than the last ones. I think so. I think it must be our goal.

“The cars with more downforce like Red Bull and Mercedes will be ahead, but we’ll try to be there in the fight or just behind them.”

Additional reporting by Luca Brambilla