Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Bahrain International Circuit, 2024 pre-season test

Don’t expect Ferrari to win a lot of races despite test pace, Leclerc warns

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Charles Leclerc played down expectations of a resurgence from Ferrari after leading the final day of pre-season testing.

He said the SF-24 has clearly addressed the balance problems which made its predecessor difficult to drive consistently, particularly in changeable conditions. However he has not yet seen any signs they can compete with last year’s dominant champions Red Bull.

“From the first lap on the simulator it felt like an easier car to drive whenever we drove with some wind. Similarly on the track, from the very first laps here once we get here, the feeling was good. We managed to be consistent straight away and this will help the race runs.

“However drive-ability and competitiveness are two very different things. Last year we were struggling a lot to be consistent because the car was just a little bit all over the place whenever there was some wind. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that, especially in qualifying, that doesn’t mean that we’ll win a lot thanks to that. And that doesn’t mean anything compared to Red Bull.

“So we still have to work a lot and then we’ll see how competitive we are next Friday. But I am confident that we definitely did a step forward in terms of tyre management because whenever tyres are more used the weaknesses of the car are more apparent, you can feel them more, and with the characteristics of this car, it should be quite a bit better.”

Leclerc’s team mate Carlos Sainz Jnr set the outright quickest time of the test. Nonetheless Leclerc believes it’s “still very difficult to understand exactly where we are” compared to their rivals.

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He was encouraged by how smoothly the test went for Ferrari. “We have gone through our program, we didn’t have any major issues. I think the first good thing is that there are no surprises.

“Everything that we expected from this car, we got it on the real track. That is a good thing because that helps us to develop the car on the simulator, and everything seems to make sense.

“How competitive we are it’s very difficult to understand for now. My first feeling is that Red Bull is still quite a bit ahead. But we have a much stronger base compared to last year.

“I remember last year I finished the test and it was very, very difficult to understand in which direction to develop because the car was just so inconsistent. It was very difficult to understand what were the main weaknesses.

“This year it’s a very different story. We know exactly where we need to improve, where are the main weaknesses of this car, and this gives us a bit more hope for the development of the car.”

“Last year was probably the worst ever test I’ve had in my entire career,” he summed up. “This year, it’s much better.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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9 comments on “Don’t expect Ferrari to win a lot of races despite test pace, Leclerc warns”

  1. “Everything that we expected from this car, we got it on the real track. That is a good thing because that helps us to develop the car on the simulator, and everything seems to make sense.

    That is indeed a very good outcome.

    We’ll see how things end up in a competitive setting next week, but in terms of development and just having a clear picture of how the car needs to be set up that comment is a good one.

  2. I’m surprised he had a helmet cam fitted for the final day.

  3. I don’t think anyone expects a title challenge from anyone not named Red Bull so just take whatever you’re given.

    May sound like a defeatist attitude but if Ferrari can copy their 2015 season where they are clearly the 2nd fastest car and can pounce on the fastest team errors and win a few races, I’d say Vasseur’s first real Ferrari car without any Binotto influence is a success and a platform to build on.

  4. Why so defeatist? Sainz had the quickest time in testing overall, Leclerc was fastest today with Max also on track.

    I get why tests aren’t necesarily representative, and why therefore Ferrari cannot state they are the favorites despite being the fastests in testing; but by the same reasoning, why would they not be?

    If Max was in the Ferrari, he would probably say something like ‘we were fastest today, so we’re going to do our best to be on top during the race weekend too’, not this weak self-defeating hedging.
    You want to be champion, start with a champion’s mentality.

    1. Next year.

    2. Why so defeatist?

      Leclerc just isn’t a chest pounding kind of guy. And he knows there’s nothing to be gained from making bold statements that just lead to more pressure and questions. He has to do his job with what he has, and it’s on Vasseur to talk about the car and the team.

    3. He’s clearly pretty happy with race-pace but isn’t at all confident on 1-lap, my take on that is they pushed really hard (Leclerc pushed new softs 3 times in succession right?) and doubts that RedBull have – ref. Zhou’s lap.

  5. What is a lot? Ferrari since 2014 recorded at most 6 wins across an entire season even while having cars that looked more competitive than the current one. Add to that poor race operations and other aspects needed to win a race, as long as RB is close to them they aren’t winning much. I would be surprised if they both had similarly paced cars if Ferrari managed to win more than 5 races. Even worse for them might be that Merc is ahead according to Alison on race trim.

    Yeah I’m not expecting anything from them. If they manage to win many races it’ nothing short of remarkable.

    1. I guess you can go back a few more years than that to find a time where they won more than 6.

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