Ferrari has taken a different approach to pre-season testing this year following last year’s misleading showing, according to Charles Leclerc.
In 2019, Ferrari appeared to be the class of the field throughout pre-season testing and was quickest throughout, but then struggled once the season started in Australia and didn’t win a race until after the summer break. After finishing 11th quickest on the opening day at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya this year, Leclerc says Ferrari has learned from last season.
“For now it’s quite difficult to comment as we didn’t focus on performance but more on trying to know the car at its best, before working on performance,” Leclerc said. “So for now it’s difficult to say but for sure there’s been a lot of work. It can only be an evolution — but to where exactly I can’t tell you, because we didn’t push the car yet.
“Of course we changed a little bit our approach compared to last year. Last year the testing was great but the first race was a bit less great and I think we’ve learned a few things from this. This year we’ve decided to focus a bit more on ourselves and trying to learn the car as much as possible in these first days and then focus on performance a bit later on. We will see if that pays off.”
One of the areas referenced by team principal Mattia Binotto during last week’s car launch in Italy was an attempt to make the SF1000 easier to set up, and Leclerc says that is an area he has already noticed clear progress in.
“For sure we’ve got more flexibility in the car setup for this year, so this is always a good thing for both drivers because we adapt the details more in the car to our driving. We didn’t push the car yet but we know we have more flexibility, this is fact.
Sebastian Vettel was originally set to drive on Wednesday but felt unwell, leading to Ferrari having to change its driver schedule at late notice.
“6:45 a.m. this morning I got the call and I was sleeping at that time!” Leclerc noted. “It was pretty late but in the end it did not change much. For the mechanics it was not easy because to change the driver fit it always takes a bit of time. They had to do a late change but in terms of the plan it was basically the same.”