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Charles Leclerc

SF-24 easier to drive from very 'first lap' – Leclerc

Charles Leclerc has been impressed by the SF-24 from the moment he drove the car in the simulator.

Leclerc Bahrain
To news overview © XPBimages

A significant step forwards does appear to have been made by Ferrari, with Charles Leclerc having revealed after his final run during pre-season testing last week that the SF-24 has been easier to drive than the 2023 car from the get-go when there is any wind.

In 2023, Ferrari's car was more often than not excellent over a single-lap; however, both Leclerc and Carlos Sainz had a tendency to fall backwards during the races.

Tyre management was the team's Achilles heel, although potentially not any more. The Maranello-based side addressed their tyre wear dramas during the winter break whilst designing the SF-24, with the initial results looking promising.

Whilst Sainz and Leclerc stole the headlines in testing after topping the timesheets on days two and three, the real interest was on their solid long-run pace. Both Ferrari drivers were able to lap more consistently on their long runs than they could 12 months ago, suggesting that the Italians have made progress.

It's easy to forget that Sainz would've likely finished on the podium in Bahrain last season, had it not been for tyre wear troubles. Given that Ferrari's one-lap pace was at times on a par with Red Bull in 2023, fighting for victories more often could be on the cards if both drivers can look after their tyres.

With Leclerc hailing the car as being easier to drive, particularly in the wind, this bodes very well for the outfit's chances under Team Principal Frederic Vasseur.

Tyre management improvement made

"Honestly, from the first lap on the simulator, it felt like an easier car to drive whenever we drove with some wind," Leclerc told select media including RacingNews365, "and similar on the track from the very first laps here.

"Once we got here, the feeling was good, we managed to be consistent straightaway. And this will help the race runs. However, as I've said, these past few days, drivability and competitiveness are two very different things.

"Last year, we were struggling a lot to be consistent, because the car was just a 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.

"So, 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 on Friday.

"But I am confident that we definitely have stepped forwards in terms of tyre management, because whenever the 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."

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RESULTS 2024 F1 Chinese Grand Prix