Leclerc: The “driveability” of Ferrari F1’s SF-24 “is a lot better compared to last year”

A Ferrari being driven at Bahrain in the sunset
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Ferrari has performed consistently during the first two days of pre-season testing in Bahrain.

Carlos Sainz topped the timesheets on the second day of running, setting a 1:29.921 on the C4 tyres, which is one step softer than what will be used at next week’s Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix.

Charles Leclerc is optimistic about Ferrari’s progress and is adamant that the Italian team is starting from a stronger foundation than it was a year ago.

“We’re making good progress,” he said to F1 TV. “Once again, the car is doing what it needs to do, which wasn’t the case at the start of last year.

“I remember after the first few days, I was much more worried because it was a very, very complicated car to drive. This year, it’s easier, so it’s starting from a better base, but there’s still a lot of work to do.

“For the time being, everything’s going according to plan in the sense that we haven’t had any unpleasant surprises in terms of the car’s behaviour.”

The Monegasque explained that the SF-24’s performance on the circuit correlates to what the team anticipated from the simulator.

“The car is behaving as it did in the simulator, so that’s a pretty good sign,” he said. “After that, in terms of competitiveness, it’s too early to say.

“In itself, the fact that it behaves exactly as it did in the simulator is good news. It allows us to be able to develop the car in the virtual world at Maranello, and that’s good.”

Ferrari suffered from a peaky car last season and one the drivers couldn’t trust through most of the season, but Leclerc says the new package is much more predictable.

“In terms of driveability, the car is a lot better compared to last year. Last year, after the test, it was very, very difficult to push into a direction because we just didn’t know what the car was doing.

“We would get into a corner, and we didn’t know whether we would have extreme oversteer or extreme understeer. Which was a big problem. This year, the car is not like that, which is a better starting point.”

Photo Credit: Scuderia Ferrari

The 26-year-old is anticipating Red Bull to be the dominant force in 2024 but reiterated that pre-season testing rarely reveals the accurate picture of the running order.

“It feels like every winter test, which means that we don’t understand a thing,” he continued. “Because for now, it’s too early to say; we have no idea what everybody else’s fuel levels are.

“My initial feeling is that Red Bull, unfortunately, remains quite a bit ahead. They have done very impressive lap times.

“But this is only my own feeling, not looking at data, because again, data doesn’t mean much for now.”