Leclerc topped both of the 90-minute sessions but is not convinced that form is “the real picture of everything” because Mercedes’ fastest FP2 times came when the track conditions were not at their best.
“It’s a good day of course, first and first, but I believe it looks better on paper than it actually is,” said Leclerc. “Mercedes is very, very strong.
“In FP2 they didn’t have the chance to do the laptime when the conditions were at their best and they did a very strong laptime when it was raining a bit.
“I expect them to be very strong tomorrow.”
Championship Hamilton said it was “surprising” to be so close to Ferrari in practice, after he lapped just 0.068s slower than Leclerc in FP2.
“We didn’t want to take risks with the car in the wet so stayed in the garage for most of the first session,” said Shovlin.
“In the second session we were late going onto the Softs so missed the best window with the track. Apart from missing some running, the day has been pretty good.
“We were a long way off the Ferraris in qualifying last week and it looks a bit better here although the same trend is evident where we are losing on the straights and gaining in the corners.
“We don’t expect tomorrow to be any different. Hopefully we’ll be able to challenge for pole but we don’t expect it to be easy.”
Leclerc’s teammate Sebastian Vettel was two tenths off the pace with the third-fastest time in FP2, but felt he could find more performance “with a bit more comfort and confidence”.
“I don’t know which paper you had but we didn’t have the same paper.”
One key factor in Friday practice was Leclerc did not get a proper tow on his best lap whereas Hamilton did.
Asked about how Ferrari could strategically play qualifying to ensure its drivers get a good tow, Leclerc said: “I don’t think we will sacrifice any car for the good of the other.
“We’ll try to do the best team job possible and then see what happens.”
Photo by: Glenn DuNBAr / LAT Images