Formula One: Ferrari duo play down improved pace at Spielberg

Leclerc drives during the first practice.
Leclerc drives during the first practice.PHOTO: ZUMA WIRE/DPA

SPIELBERG, Austria (AFP) - Ferrari duo Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel played down their improved pace and positions after Friday's (June 28) crash-hit opening practice for the Austrian Grand Prix.

Leclerc topped the times while Vettel wound up eighth after surviving a big off-track excursion that saw him save his car from hitting the barriers.

"In practice, it always looks a bit stronger for us than in qualifying and the race, so we need to be cautious," said four-time champion Vettel.

"We are still trying a lot of things so we can get closer (to Mercedes). Hopefully, tomorrow, we can get a good feel and do better than today."

Ferrari are hunting their first win of the season to end Mercedes' record run of eight consecutive season-opening victories that has stretched their unbeaten stretch to 10 races.

Vettel added that he had no lasting after-effects from his near-miss in second practice though he did miss out on making a long run on the soft compound tyres.

Monegasque Leclerc, who is desperate to record his first win with the "scarlet scuderia", said he did not believe his excellence on Friday meant that Ferrari were on course to outpace Mercedes.

 
 

"I think they are still very, very quick so it is going to be very difficult when they put it all together," he said.

"Today the car felt good on our side so I am pretty happy. The wind and the conditions in general were quite difficult, but I think we made the best of it and, I hope, we can do the same tomorrow."