Less than a week on from the French Grand Prix, the Ferrari camp was in a positive frame of mind in Budapest with Carlos Sainz in particular fancying his chances. But while he thinks the track should suit their car, the Spaniard was also keen to emphasise that it’s not all about pace for the Scuderia, with the need to get the basics right just as important.
“We need it,” he said when asked about the importance of having a clean weekend here. “But everyone needs a clean weekend, I think. We all strive for clean weekends. In F1 they are more difficult to get than people think.
“It’s still a long year ahead and as we’ve seen this year, anything can happen in any race and it’s been such an up and down year for everyone. Even if the top four is consistent then the outcome of the weekend is not what you expect. There’s a still a lot to play for and a lot to go for.”
Hungary’s lack of a long straight is expected to play to the strengths of the Ferrari, coupled with the fact they have a slightly better qualifying record than their Red Bull rivals, with Saturday’s grid order often proving influential at a track not renowned for overtaking.
“[I’m] confident that we can fight for that win this weekend and that we can perform a solid weekend like we did in Austria and France,” said Sainz. “Every race, I’m feeling more comfortable in the car, and race pace in France was good, in Austria too. The qualifying pace in France was good, especially in Q2. I think we have the ingredients, we just need to put it all together on Sunday.”
Sainz has one win and one pole position to his name this year, but his team mate Charles Leclerc has been prolific on Saturdays in particular, with seven poles from 12 race weekends. And Leclerc could do with a strong result this weekend to atone for his mistake last time out, which cost him a hatful of points and saw Max Verstappen take a commanding lead in the drivers’ championship.
The Monegasque driver could have been forgiven for a bout of self-pity after France, but admitted he got straight back into his usual routine and instead spent his week preparing for this race. And the good news for fans of the Prancing Horse is that he too thinks they have a strong chance of being competitive here.
“Normally it should be a track where we should be strong, yes,” said Leclerc, adding that his ideal scenario would be to finish P1 in every session from Friday onwards.
But the one thing he might have to think about is tactics, with the even grid slots situated on the clean side of the grid here.
“I don’t know,” he said with a chuckle when it was pointed out that P2 might be a better starting slot. “I haven’t [thought] that much into the weekend but let’s see after tomorrow.”