Sports Leclerc: Ferrari can't allow pressure to influence F1 2022 approach
F1 Australian GP: Sainz fastest as Ferrari lead Red Bull in FP1
Carlos Sainz Jr comfortably had the measure of Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc and the Red Bull duo to top first practice ahead of Formula 1’s 2022 Australian Grand Prix.The Spaniard romped to a 1m19.806s to unsurprisingly smash the existing lap record set on the previous configuration, a 1m20.486s as posted by Lewis Hamilton on his way to pole in 2019.
Last weekend in Australia Leclerc took his second win from the first three grands prix of 2022, as nearest rival Max Verstappen suffered a second retirement in the Red Bull.
That opened up a gap of 34 points for Leclerc on Mercedes' George Russell, with Verstappen in sixth on 25 points. In the constructors' championship Ferrari leads the way with a 39-point advantage over Mercedes, as Red Bull fell a further 10 points in arrears.
While it is still very early in the season with another 20 grands prix to go, Ferrari's resurgence has caused a lot of excitement in Italy among the tifosi and the media as F1 now heads to Imola for the first of two races on the Scuderia's home soil.
F1 Australian GP: Leclerc beats Verstappen to top FP2
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc beat Max Verstappen to the top spot for Formula 1’s 2022 Australian Grand Prix – with the latter opting to complete extra qualifying simulations compared to his rival.In nearly 10°C cooler conditions compared to the first practice session at Albert Park on Friday – thanks to dark rain clouds building over Melbourne ahead of the one-hour afternoon running – Sainz led the way during the early running on the harder tyre compounds before his team-mate and then Verstappen edged ahead during their later fliers on the softs.
But Leclerc has warned that the Maranello squad cannot get too caught up in the hype caused by its strong start to 2022 and shouldn't "overdo things" as it tries to secure a first constructors' title since 2008.
When asked about the excitement in Italy going into the Imola weekend, Leclerc said: "Oh yeah, I can imagine it, but I don't want to think about it too much because it's still very early in the season.
"Obviously, it's good to be in the lead of the championship. Thirty-four points is always good to take wherever you are in the calendar but I don't want to focus too much on the championship for now.
"Italy will be incredible, but we need to approach the race weekend just like we approached the first three weekends. I think it's extremely important not to put on ourselves extra pressure and not try to overdo things.
F1 Australian GP: Leclerc claims pole in eventful Melbourne qualifying
Charles Leclerc beat Max Verstappen to pole position in qualifying for Formula 1’s 2022 Australian Grand Prix, which heavily disrupted by red flags stemming from two big crashes.Alonso had just set a then best time in the middle sector when he lost the rear of his Alpine going through Turn 11, the Spaniard saying after he crashed having been sent into the gravel and then into the wall on the outside, that he had “lost the hydraulics” and “could not change gear”.
"We are working as a team extremely well since the beginning of the season and we just need to keep doing our job, just like we did in the first three weekends."
Race winner Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75, 1st position, drives in to Parc Ferme
Photo by: Glenn Dunbar /
Leclerc has the advantage of already having experienced soaking up the pressure of the tifosi, winning a "tense" 2019 Italian Grand Prix at Monza after being hounded by Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas all race.
"Italy for us, it's always incredible, so I can't wait to be there," Leclerc continued.
"Obviously, Monza was a very tense race with Lewis behind but again, I just tried to not to think too much about where we are.
"Even though the grandstands will look particularly different there - there will be probably a bit more red - we will just try and focus on our job and not to focus too much on where we are in the championship and in location."
Verstappen: No clear fix for Red Bull's early season F1 struggles .
Max Verstappen says there is no “clear fix” for Red Bull’s early Formula 1 struggles in 2022 after retiring for the second time in three races in Australia on Sunday.Verstappen also failed to finish the season-opener in Bahrain last month due to a separate fuel pump problem, causing him to lose significant ground in the early title battle.