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Formula 1 Bahrain February Testing

Leclerc: 2023 Ferrari F1 car better on straights but slower in corners

Charles Leclerc expects Ferrari’s 2023 Formula 1 car to be better in a straight line compared its 2022 challenger but thinks it will perhaps struggle slightly “more in the corners”.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23

Ferrari’s F1-75 packed on impressive downforce levels, with its heavily-sculpted sidepods feeding upper level airflow into the critical floor and underfloor Venturi tunnels that the ground effect cars need to work well to be quick. But it suffered on the straights compared to the slippery, efficient Red Bull RB18.

That car went on to dominate the 2022 championship while Ferrari’s initially excellent challenge imploded, and the Scuderia’s new SF-23 has been designed to improve against Red Bull in the aerodynamic efficiency stakes.

Ferrari has been trialling different wing packages throughout the Bahrain pre-season test and the SF-23 has been tracked performing well on GPS traces compared to the RB19 down the track’s long straights, while the RB19 seems to have an edge in high-speed corners – with a caveat that teams typically run in lower engine power modes or with set heavy fuel loads during testing runs.

When asked by Motorsport.com if Ferrari’s slight design philosophy change had altered the feeling of the car for its drivers, Leclerc replied: “It did. I won’t go into too much details, but I think that was done in the right way.

“And I think we have a less draggy car, so that should be better this year. But it changed other characteristics.

“All in line with what we expected, but we still need to find the right set-up for these new characteristics.”

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Leclerc, speaking in the press conference on the final day of the Bahrain test, went to state that he expects “us to be a little bit quicker in the straights, maybe struggling a little bit more in the corners” as a result of the design changes, which include a skinnier rear wing package.

This was an area Ferrari worked hard to adjust early in the 2022 campaign as it went toe-to-toe with Red Bull during that season’s initial races before losing ground due to a series of major problems.

These included the team’s engine no longer being run at full power and so not going fast enough to overcome the extra drag of the downforce-packing F1-75 design, another critical area Ferrari has been working to address during the off-season reset.

“With this three-day test I can say that we are still working quite a bit on track to find the sweet spot of the car in terms of set-up,” Leclerc concluded of Ferrari’s new machine.

“So, I hope there’s some margin still – that we haven’t found the sweet spot yet.”

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