Leclerc believes Ferrari filming day led to "surprise" practice pace
Charles Leclerc believes a filming day at Mugello earlier this year played a key role in Ferrari's "surprise" first practice session for the Tuscan Grand Prix.
Leclerc started Ferrari's 1,000th grand prix celebrations by finishing third quickest in FP1 at a track it owns, and that was used by the Scuderia towards the end of June to get the team up to speed on the Covid-19 protocols, and the drivers some track time after months of inactivity.
While many of the other drivers used the opening 90-minutes to become acclimatised to the circuit, Leclerc was up and running from the start and finished just three-tenths of a second behind pacesetter Valtteri Bottas in his Mercedes.
Explaining his impressive time, Leclerc said: "It was positive, but on the other hand, when it's going positive, we need to understand why. To be honest, it was a bit of a surprise for everyone.
"I have my personal opinion - we had a filming day which helped us to get into a rhythm of the track. As for all the other drivers, it was a new track, so maybe this helped us a little bit. But in FP2 it was more where we expected to be.
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"I believe that it's all very close, and I think that we can do a step, a positive step forward tomorrow. I have some optimism."
Leclerc dropped to 10th on the timesheet in FP2 during which both he and team-mate Sebastian Vettel had spins. The Monégasque driver claims he struggled on the hard tyre and with the balance of his SF1000.
"I struggled a bit more in the second session, [when] we went on the hard tyre, which was very, very difficult to drive," added Leclerc.
"We had quite a few issues on the hard tyre, but on the soft, I refined the feeling I had during the first session, so that was good."
Vettel finished 12th quickest in FP2, and along with his own spin, stopped on track after the chequered flag had fallen on the session.
The four-time F1 champion, confirmed this week as heading to Aston Martin next season, claims the circuit is "quite a handful for us', although it still remains "definitely fun to drive".
"It's quite brutal on tyres, so you get one lap and then it's quite different after that," said Vettel.
"We're working on it, and I think we still have plenty of work ahead to try and improve it. We'll see. I'm not happy yet, but it's Friday and that's what Fridays are for.
"I think we can make it [the car] better, but it will be a fight, so obviously it's quite a tough circuit in terms of needing the balance that you would like from the car. I'm sure we will find some small bits."
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