Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc “cautiously optimistic” after strong pre-season testing

Days out from the first race of the 2024 Formula 1 season, Monegasque driver Charles Leclerc wound up a successful few days of testing feeling positive about the changes made over the winter, but admitted, “It is still difficult to assess [the car’s] level of competitiveness right now.” 

Preparations for the 2024 Formula 1 World Championship, which begins this coming weekend, stepped up a notch last week as the grid headed to Bahrain for three intense days of testing on the track the drivers will race on come 2nd March. 

For Monegasque Charles Leclerc and his Spanish teammate at Ferrari, Carlos Sainz, the Sakhir track provided an opportunity to put to the test the new SF-24 and experiment with their cars’ potential by trialling various fuel loads and tyre compounds. 

In total, the pair completed 432 laps to cover more than 2,250 kilometres, the equivalent of over seven Grands Prix. It was the second highest total of all the teams.  

“Our first morning of testing was quite productive. As for the performance, it’s just too early to comment or draw conclusions,” reported Leclerc. “We ran all the tests we planned to and things are going ahead as expected, which is a positive.” 

The Monaco-born driver’s confidence seemed to grow as the testing sessions continued, despite a red flag causing some delays on Day 2.  

“The first two days have gone well as we have run our full programme, although at this stage, we can’t say how competitive we are. I think the first time we will get an idea of where we stand will be in qualifying next week,” he said. “We made some general changes to the car today and yesterday, with our focus shifting to fine-tuning our set-up on the last day of testing.” 

Monegasque Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc recorded the second fastest lap of the testing sessions. Photo credit: Scuderia Ferrari Media Centre

By the end of testing, Sainz had recorded the fastest lap, with Leclerc just behind him. Trackside F1 commentators described the pair as seeming “cautiously optimistic about how the team had carried out their programme”.  

“We achieved our goals without a hitch, gathering extensive data and ensuring the SF-24’s predictability and ease of handling,” said Team Principal Frédéric Vasseur. “These were three productive days, with no technical problems, which is what you want most, especially when it’s the only session before the start of the season. Looking just at our own performance, we have got off on the right foot.” 

The team’s thoughts will now shift to the upcoming opening stage of the season in Bahrain.  

“It’s full focus on the race and I can’t wait to be back on track next week,” said Leclerc. 

Read related:

F1: Charles Leclerc reacts to Scuderia Ferrari’s new SF-24


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Photo credit: Scuderia Ferrari Media Centre