Charles Leclerc: Ferrari yet to find ‘sweet spot’ with SF-23 car setup

Henry Valantine
Charles Leclerc in the cockpit. Bahrain February 2023.

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc in the Ferrari SF-23 cockpit. Bahrain February 2023.

Charles Leclerc has said Ferrari are yet to find their “sweet spot” on car setup, with plenty having changed on their 2023 challenger.

Both Ferrari drivers have shown that apparent underlying pace is there within the SF-23, with both Leclerc and Carlos Sainz completing plenty of running across the three days of testing in Bahrain, and both ranking inside the top five lap times come the end of the final day – albeit seven tenths of a second than the Red Bull of Sergio Perez.

Of course, plenty of variables are involved in testing, including engine modes, fuel loads and tyre compounds being used on the cars, but Leclerc has predicted Ferrari will be stronger in a straight line this year, based on what he has experienced so far, though it may come at a cost to cornering performance.

He said the team are still working hard to find the best of both worlds however, with the “sweet spot” not yet found on the SF-23.

“I think our car changed a little bit of characteristic this year, I expect us to be a bit quicker in the straights, maybe struggling a bit more in in the corners,” Leclerc explained to media including in Bahrain.

“And with this three-day test, I can say that we are still working quite a bit on trying to find the sweet spot on the car in terms of setup. So there’s some margin on that still, that we haven’t found the sweet spot yet.” recommends

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Leclerc has also taken the opportunity to try out different driving styles behind the wheel of the SF-23, as the teams get used to a slightly raised minimum ride height, marginally heavier tyres and tweaks to the technical regulations.

And after plenty of experimentation, the Monégasque driver believes he has found the right way forward in terms of how to get his car around Bahrain, but knows the job is not done in the Scuderia garage.

“It is a different car, you need to drive it a little bit differently, but that’s what testing is for,” Leclerc said.

“I’ve been trying a lot of different driving styles. I seemed to find my way a little bit this this morning, finally. But again, as I said, we still have some work to do.”

Additional reporting by Thomas Maher