Charles Leclerc says Ferrari has yet to find the sweet spot with its new car after pre-season testing, heading into this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix.
Red Bull looked the class of the field during the three-day test last week and enters the first race as the clear favorite due to the way the RB19 was handling and the lap times it produced. For Ferrari, Leclerc feels there is still a lot of room for improvement in terms of potential performance because changes to the car’s aerodynamic efficiency have left the team with more to understand.
“I think the car changed a little bit of characteristics this year,” Leclerc said. “I expect us to be a bit quicker in the straights, maybe struggling a bit more in the corners. And with this three day test, I can say that we are still working quite a bit on trying to find the sweet spot of the car in terms of set-up. So I hope there is some margin on that still, that we haven’t found the sweet spot yet.
“I won’t go into much details. I think that (design change) was done in the right way. I think we have less drag, 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 this new characteristic.
“I feel we’ve got some work to do. Red Bull seems to be very strong in these three days (of testing). Still a bit of work.”
Aside from the car, another change Ferrari that has made over the winter is in the team principal position, with Fred Vasseur replacing Mattia Binotto and now completing his first week trackside.
“What we expect from Fred, it’s very early days for now. What I can say is that it was impressive how quickly he introduces himself in the team, and straightaway he felt quite at ease and understood a team like Ferrari, which is not a given because it’s a very big team.
“There is also the engine department in Ferrari that we didn’t have to manage in Alfa Romeo, but he was at ease straightaway. That is very, very important for the future. I’m sure he will do great. He’s really, really good at putting everybody in the right conditions to extract the best out of the people. I think this is going to be a big plus.”