Charles Leclerc says there is a notable difference in how the all-new 2022 cars can follow, but it all depends on the distance.
This year the Formula 1 cars are completely different to last season’s, the sport moving away from over-car airflow to ground effect aerodynamics meaning a suction is created underneath the car to pull it onto the track.
The objective is to create cars that produce clean air, allowing for the car behind to follow far more easily.
The drivers put in their first laps in the brand new cars in Spain this past week, spending three days at the Circuit de Catalunya.
Rather than chasing lap times, the test was about getting to know the new cars and focusing on reliability.
Ferrari did just that, the busiest team over the three days with 439 laps, 46 more than what Mercedes covered.
Leclerc, though, did deliberately spend time following other cars to get a feel for how the new car behaves in those circumstances.
— Scuderia Ferrari (@ScuderiaFerrari) February 25, 2022
“It is quite interesting,” the Monegasque driver told Motorsport.com, “because I’ll say from three seconds to one second behind the car in front, you actually can follow closer.
“Then from one second to five-tenths I will say it’s similar to the feeling I had last year.
“And then from five tenths to extremely close, then this is much better than last year.
“It is nice, it’s interesting. I mean, I’ll have to do a few more laps behind a car, but it’s looking good for now.”
Ferrari impressed in testing, tackling the top of the timesheets along with McLaren on day one and two.
However, on the overall timesheet Leclerc fell to fifth place, behind both Mercedes drivers, Sergio Perez and Lando Norris.
Ferrari’s form again has pundits and rivals alike saying the Scuderia are looking good.
Leclerc has downplayed this.
“We have no idea where we are in terms of performance, and that’s impossible to know either,” he said.
But he concedes so far so good for Ferrari.
“It was quite good. We passed all the tests that we wanted to do,” he said. “And that was the most important thing: drive as many kilometres as we can.”