Charles Leclerc has acknowledged Red Bull are in a “league of their own” pace wise this weekend, even though the rest of the field is bunched in Barcelona.
The reigning World Champions have taken six wins out of six this season and have shown no signs of their dominance ending around Spain this weekend, despite the margins throughout the field appearing fine in free practice on Friday.
Only half a second separated the top 10 in FP2 as Max Verstappen went fastest, with 17 of the 20 cars lapping within a second of the World Championship leader around the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on their qualifying simulations.
Ferrari driver Leclerc believes the margins for the rest of the field are as fine as they have ever been, but the runaway leaders remain the class of the field in their own right at the moment.
“It’s very difficult to answer that question, because I think, again, it’s closer than ever, apart from Red Bull that are in a league of their own, with their car at the moment, especially in race pace,” Leclerc said when asked how Ferrari will stack up this weekend.
“Everybody else seems to be more or less there. So I think the ones that will be in front will be the ones that do the perfect lap in quali, and so it’s going to be very close.”
Ferrari team-mate Carlos Sainz is enjoying his weekend at his home race, with the circuit having reverted back to its former layout in the final sector not seen in Formula 1 since 2006 – with two sweeping right-handers ending the lap instead of a slow chicane breaking up the sector.
The Spaniard is enjoying the change that the sport has made for this season, even though it has made life somewhat more difficult for those behind the wheel.
“I think at the moment the track is a lot more fun to drive,” Sainz said.
“It’s also more demanding physically for the neck. The cars are not easy to drive around here with this high speed and the bouncing that we all have, or at least we have quite a lot and the cars are quite demanding, unpredictable.
“But it’s a challenge and we take it; we just need to make sure we improve the car a bit going into tomorrow and Sunday and hopefully it makes it even more fun.”