Charles Leclerc says that setting the fastest time on Thursday in the second and final 2019 Formula 1 winter test at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya “doesn’t mean anything”.
New Scuderia Ferrari recruit Leclerc managed the fastest time seen in the first seven days of testing, with a 1 minute 16.231 seconds on the softest C5 tyres.
Leclerc’s time, set in the morning, is just 0.058s adrift of Lewis Hamilton‘s pole position time for last year’s Spanish Grand Prix.
The Monégasque driver stopped on-track late in the afternoon at Turn 9, having recorded 138 laps throughout the day, with a “small issue with the exhaust”.
It is reported that a similar problem had contributed to Haas F1 Team driver Romain Grosjean‘s staggered running.
Despite this Leclerc remained happy with the efforts from Ferrari, after a wheel rim issue sent team-mate Sebastian Vettel into the barriers at the high-speed Turn 3 and sacrificed a large portion of Wednesday’s running.
“It didn’t look as though today would be easy, given that we had to make up for yesterday’s lost time,” said Leclerc.
“But we got it done and that was very positive, especially as this was my last day in the car before Australia.
“I am very happy because we worked really well.
“It’s been an encouraging start to the season and I feel about ready – I can’t wait to take part in my first real Grand Prix with Ferrari.”
Speaking about the feel of the new-for-2019 SF90, Leclerc praised the balance of the package that Ferrari hope will propel it to a first Constructors’ Championship for 11 years.
Vettel and Leclerc are also hoping to take Ferrari’s first Drivers’ title since Kimi Räikkönen‘s triumph in 2007.
Leclerc disregarded the importance of setting the fastest time of the winter so far, believing that the fact his knowledge of the car is improving is the positive to take away from Barcelona.
“[The car] is solid and the balance is good and consistent,” he added.
“That’s been the clear impression right from the first day and it hasn’t changed.
“I’ve still got a lot to learn, but up until now, I can say I’m satisfied.
“It’s nice to top the time sheet, but it doesn’t mean anything; what matters is that, lap after lap, I am getting more and more dialled in to this car.”