Ferrari announced ahead of the race weekend at Istanbul Park that Sainz would start from the back of the grid on Sunday after the team took on a brand new power unit, giving it the improved hybrid system.
That meant Sainz focused his Friday race on race pace to prepare for Sunday’s grand prix, but Leclerc jumped to second place on the FP2 timesheets, finishing within two-tenths of the championship leader. Lewis Hamilton.
Sainz said that while he still enjoyed the challenge of fighting on the pitch in Turkey, he was “a little less” excited after seeing what Leclerc could do.
“Now I see where Charles is in the low fuel, and you see he could fight for a podium, it makes me [feel] a little regret [for] the fact that I won’t be there on Saturday to fight and Sunday to fight, unless I make a huge comeback which is obviously quite unlikely, “said Sainz.
“It just makes me feel a little more depressed, just because I wish I could be up there with him fighting for higher places, watching where the pace of the car is this weekend.”
Carlos Sainz Jr., Ferrari SF21
Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport images
Sainz vowed to “keep the faith” that he could “have fun crossing the field” to score points, but added that he “would much prefer to be in the top five in qualifying and in the race”.
The high levels of grip in Turkey may work to Ferrari’s advantage, allowing it to add more downforce up front to the car that helped Leclerc to second place in FP2.
The Monegasque rider has signed two pole positions this season, surpassing qualifying in Monaco and Azerbaijan after impressing in training.
But Leclerc was reluctant to read too much of Friday’s performance in Turkey, believing that the leading teams had even more pace to find.
“It’s been a good feeling all day, but we shouldn’t get carried away because I feel the top teams have more to show,” said Leclerc.
“Also on the refueling, it’s looking good. So everything looks positive at the moment, but again, it’s only Friday.
“So for now I want to keep my head down, keep working as hard as I can to try and polish the car to have a perfect qualifying tomorrow.”