As the teams and drivers pump in the laps ahead of F1 2023, Charles Leclerc says Ferrari are not yet giving it full beans, and nobody is.
A rather limited pre-season schedule, consisting of just three days at the Bahrain International Circuit, means that there is little time to waste when it comes to getting out there on the track ahead of the new season, which begins at this circuit next weekend.
Day one belonged to the reigning World Champion Max Verstappen, who set the pace in both the morning and afternoon session at the wheel of the Red Bull RB19, while come the morning of day two, it was Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz setting the standard.
In normal circumstances, testing times must be taken with a huge pinch of salt, but with only three days available, Red Bull driver programme chief Helmut Marko suggested that teams would not hide performance.
Leclerc though does not agree with that assessment, stating during the morning session of day two that Ferrari, like everyone, were not putting all of their cards on the table.
Asked by Sky Sports F1 for his thoughts so far, having driven the SF-23 during the afternoon of day one, Leclerc replied: “I think we’re all happy because the data matched with what we had back at the factory, which is a really important first thing for the first day.
“So that was our main point of focus to try and put the car in different scenarios and in different configurations and understand whether everything matched, which was the case and that was important.
“Now we will focus a bit more on the set-up side of it, try to extract a little bit of performance. Obviously, not showing everything because it’s only testing, but that is why it is very, very important for us to focus on ourselves, because no teams will really show their full potential here.
“We don’t know how much they have left to show, so we’ll just focus on ourselves, trying to get the best feeling out of these three test days, and be as ready as possible for next weekend.”
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A big positive to be taken across the board is the general impressive reliability throughout testing so far, this a subject which cost Ferrari dearly on multiple occasions in F1 2022 as their title challenge fell apart, and something which Ferrari has worked hard to address over the winter with their updated power unit.
Leclerc though says that it will not be this Bahrain test alone which convinces him that these reliability issues have been consigned to the past, instead, he puts more value in the data back at Maranello.
“I am hopeful not just because we had a good day yesterday, because to be honest, last year we had a very clean three days of testing reliability wise,” Leclerc began.
“But mostly because I know how much work has been done by the engineers back at Maranello during the winter, and also all the development they have done, so on that I’m confident that it will be better this year.”