Charles Leclerc was not expecting to be on track on Wednesday morning at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, but the Monegasque racer was thrust into the new SF1000 after team-mate Sebastian Vettel was deemed unfit to test due to illness.
Despite the late notification, the Scuderia Ferrari driver completed one hundred and thirty-one laps of the Spanish circuit, although his best lap time was only good enough to see him end eleventh fastest.
Leclerc admits that after what happened during pre-season testing twelve months ago – Ferrari was fastest on both days one and two in 2019 – and what happened in the opening race – Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team were well ahead of them – the team has taken a different approach to testing in a bid to start the year stronger.
“I think we changed a little bit our approach compared to last year,” Leclerc is quoted as saying by Motorsport.com. “Last year the testing was great but the first race was a bit less great.
“And yeah, I think we’ve learned a few things on this, and this year we decided to focus more on ourselves, trying to learn the car as much as possible in these first few days, and then focus on performance a bit later on, and we’ll see if that pays off.”
“I’m pushing myself to try and know this car better “
Despite the new approach, Leclerc says he is still looking to push towards the limit of the car, with the hope that when they come to the opening round of the season in Australia that they will be fighting for the win come race day.
“Still, driving a new car, I still try to push at the limit of the car,” said Leclerc. “We haven’t pushed the car, but I’m pushing myself to try and know this car better.
“So, the more laps that we do with it, the more confident I’ll arrive in Melbourne, so on that side, on the driving side, I’ve learned a lot, and then the different tests we’ve performed today, I think they’ve been very positive.
“I think the good benchmark will be at the first race when the tyres will be in the right window. It’s still very cold now, and the downforce has quite a big effect on tyres. So it’s all about having the aero that puts the tyres in the right window.
“And for now we can’t really know, so we just focus on ourselves.”