Leclerc: Day 1 test times reflect new Ferrari approach

Charles Leclerc says his Ferrari Formula 1 team has "changed a little bit our approach" to pre-season testing, after he finished only 11th-fastest on the opening day of 2020 running.

Leclerc: Day 1 test times reflect new Ferrari approach

Leclerc, who received a call from Ferrari at 6.45am to replace his unwell teammate Sebastian Vettel for the first day, completed 131 laps on the day but was over a second down on the pace-setting Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton - despite having set his best time on a softer tyre than the reigning champion.

This was in stark contrast to the first day of testing last year, in which Vettel set the pace, before Leclerc himself then went quickest on day two.

But Ferrari's strong showing in Barcelona testing last year did not translate to the start to the season that had been expected, and Leclerc has admitted the Italian team is consciously holding off on performance work this time.

"Of course I think we changed a little bit our approach compared to last year," Leclerc said. "Last year the testing was great but the first race was a bit less great.

"And yeah, I think we've learned a few things on this, and this year we decided to focus more on ourselves, trying to learn the car as much as possible in these first few days, and then focus on performance a bit later on, and we'll see if that pays off."

Read Also:

Leclerc added that Wednesday's work was "more about correlating the numbers from the factory and the track", which means it mostly benefits engineers whereas drivers "don't learn much" about how competitive it is.

"Still, driving a new car, I still try to push at the limit of the car," he continued. "We haven't pushed the car, but I'm pushing myself to try and know this car better.

"So, the more laps that we do with it, the more confident I'll arrive in Melbourne, so on that side, on the driving side, I've learned a lot, and then the different tests we've performed today, I think they've been very positive."

Leclerc suggested that Ferrari was unlikely to take a page out of Mercedes' book from 2019 in bringing a very different car to the second week of testing.

Asked whether the SF1000 has accomplished team principal Mattia Binotto's stated aim of prioritising downforce compared to its predecessor, Leclerc said: "It's quite difficult to see that at the moment. Of course I feel quite quick in the corners, but it's always difficult to compare one year to the other.

"I think the good benchmark will be at the first race when the tyres will be in the right window. It's still very cold now, and the downforce has quite a big effect on tyres. So it's all about having the aero that puts the tyres in the right window. And for now we can't really know, so we just focus on ourselves."

shares
comments
Verstappen says new Red Bull "fast everywhere"

Previous article

Verstappen says new Red Bull "fast everywhere"

Next article

ESPN reveals early-season Formula 1 broadcast schedule

ESPN reveals early-season Formula 1 broadcast schedule
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Drivers Charles Leclerc
Teams Scuderia Ferrari
Author Valentin Khorounzhiy
Why McLaren doesn’t doubt Ricciardo can escape his ‘dark’ place Prime

Why McLaren doesn’t doubt Ricciardo can escape his ‘dark’ place

Three points finishes from as many starts represents a decent opening innings on paper, but Daniel Ricciardo has endured a tough start to his McLaren career - only magnified his teammate's excellent form. Yet both he and the team have good reason to expect a turnaround soon.

What needs to “change” for Red Bull is ending Verstappen’s errors Prime

What needs to “change” for Red Bull is ending Verstappen’s errors

OPINION: Going up against the dominant force of Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton was always going to demand the best from Red Bull and Max Verstappen. But after making a couple more errors during the Portuguese Grand Prix, the Dutch driver showed there's a small gap he still needs to close in the 2021 Formula 1 title fight.

The "subtle" Red Bull upgrades that kept it in the Portugal F1 mix Prime

The "subtle" Red Bull upgrades that kept it in the Portugal F1 mix

Red Bull's Portuguese Grand Prix fortunes were decidedly second best to Mercedes', but the result skews the potential that the team had at Portimao. With a new set of updates, the team looks good going forward into the rest of 2021's spicy F1 competition

Formula 1
May 3, 2021
Portuguese Grand Prix driver ratings Prime

Portuguese Grand Prix driver ratings

The 2021 Portuguese GP will for several drivers go down as a weekend of missed opportunities amid imperfect track conditions that caused struggles with tyre warm-up. But the performances of a select few stood out from the crowd

Formula 1
May 3, 2021
The five key tests Hamilton passed to claim Portugal victory Prime

The five key tests Hamilton passed to claim Portugal victory

Just as he did in 2020, Lewis Hamilton had to come from behind to win the 2021 Portuguese Grand Prix. Only this time there were two rivals he had to pass, among the several challenges he had to overcome, on his way to securing a 97th grand prix victory

Formula 1
May 3, 2021
The data that leaves both Red Bull, Mercedes uncertain of supremacy Prime

The data that leaves both Red Bull, Mercedes uncertain of supremacy

Lewis Hamilton topped the crucial FP2 session on Friday as F1 returned to Portugal, but his Mercedes team cannot be sure it has the edge on its Red Bull rivals. As cool temperatures and wind combine with the still-slippery surface to present drivers with quandaries over set-up and tyre warmup, there's still everything to play for come qualifying.

Formula 1
May 1, 2021
How in-form Norris is staking his claim as Britain's next F1 champion Prime

How in-form Norris is staking his claim as Britain's next F1 champion

As a highly-rated Mercedes junior, George Russell is naturally billed as Lewis Hamilton's heir apparent where Britain's next Formula 1 champion is concerned. But he may face competition for that accolade from Lando Norris, fresh from a confidence-boosting run to third at Imola whose rise is being accelerated by his McLaren team’s revival

Formula 1
Apr 29, 2021
The biggest headache F1 faces over its sprint race experiments Prime

The biggest headache F1 faces over its sprint race experiments

The news this week that F1 has green-lit 'sprint qualifying' races that will determine the grid for three grands prix in 2021 was met with a blend of excitement and scepticism. But before those in both camps can be vilified, F1 must first work out what its criteria is for success - and what will justify making them a more permanent fixture

Formula 1
Apr 28, 2021