is the pre-event favourite for its home grand prix but Leclerc only marginally beat to the quickest time in Friday’s rain-hit second practice session.

Leclerc topped both of the 90-minute sessions but is not convinced that form is “the real picture of everything” because ’ 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. “ 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.”

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Championship Hamilton said it was “surprising” to be so close to in practice, after he lapped just 0.068s slower than Leclerc in FP2.

In his review of Friday’s running, trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin’s view backed up Leclerc’s theory that had more to unleash.

“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 s 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.

and have both made significant gains in single lap pace over the last few races and now qualifying is often our most difficult session.

“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 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”.

Asked why he felt was not in the clear on a circuit where it looked much stronger on paper, Vettel replied: “The others are quick. is not sleeping.

“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 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.”

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF90

, SF90

Photo by: Glenn Dur / LAT Images


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