The Italian giants hit a new low at last weekend’s Styrian Grand Prix when Leclerc collided with Vettel on the opening lap, causing damage that forced both cars into immediate retirement.
The caveat was that seven drivers, including Lewis Hamilton, failed to register a time. But although it did little to banish the notion that Ferrari are, for the moment, merely a midfield team, Leclerc was able to draw some encouragement from the opening day in Budapest.
“This morning it went better than we expected, to be honest,” the Monegasque driver told the official Formula 1 website.
“We didn’t arrive here with lots of new pieces, actually it’s pretty much the same car. But it looks like the car is better on this track, which is a good thing.
“This afternoon I struggled quite a bit on my side, we were trying different things and I wasn’t very happy with the car and just struggling with the confidence in the wet. But yeah, some positive signs this morning.”
Asked why Ferrari might be performing better, Leclerc said: “Well, obviously there are less straights – we were struggling quite a lot in Austria in the whole first sector. Here it’s less of a problem and we are quite quick around the corners. It doesn’t make us challenge Mercedes yet but we are quicker and that’s good to see.
“I’m really looking forward to tomorrow. Hopefully we can convert these positive signs in free practice to a positive result in qualifying and the race, but it’s quite a lot of work to do on my side and I’ll try to be in a good place tomorrow.”
Finishing Friday in P1 and P10
— Scuderia Ferrari (@ScuderiaFerrari) July 17, 2020
Vettel, meanwhile, admitted he had done the second most laps of anyone in FP2 – 12 compared to Kimi Raikkonen’s 16 – as an intensive learning process.
“We obviously used a bit more laps than others in the wet just to try and see after our weaknesses last week and understand a little bit further,” said the German. “There’s still a lot of homework to do but overall it seemed like a better day.
“It’s always give and take because you also obviously put laps on the tyres that you might need the day after. But I think we need laps at the moment and we need confidence with the car.”
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