'We've achieved our goal' – Leclerc reveals biggest strength of new Ferrari SF1000
Charles Leclerc has confirmed that Ferrari’s 2020 machine, the SF1000, has achieved the team’s stated goal of being more of a match for its rivals in the corners, after the Monegasque began his second week of pre-season testing behind the wheel of the new car.
Last year’s Ferrari, the SF90, was something of a rocket down the straights but tended to lose out in the corners – a deficit that was shown up particularly around Barcelona’s Sector 3 in 2019, contributing to Ferrari failing to get within eight-tenths of Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas in qualifying for that year’s Spanish Grand Prix.
But asked whether he’d seen the team’s performance improve around the Circuit de Catalunya so far in 2020, Leclerc replied: “Sector 3 is the most technical one, where there are the most corners, and on that, I'm pretty sure... we have improved and I can go quicker through the corners.”
The biggest strength is the speed around the corners
At the SF1000’s launch, Mattia Binotto revealed that Ferrari had created the SF1000 with the aim of “trying to look for maximum aero performance and maximise the downforce level”. And Leclerc confirmed that it was mission accomplished on that front, when asked where the car was best.
“I think the biggest strength is the speed around the corners,” he said. “I think on that, we have achieved our goal. Then we need to wait and see for the overall performance of the car, but… we are going around the corners quicker than we did last year, so that's positive. But we need to keep working on this car to unlock a bit more performance.”
Leclerc will now spend just one more day in the SF1000 before he next drives it in Free Practice 1 for Australia. And he had a clear plan of attack for what he was wanted to achieve before he flies out of Barcelona.
“I think for every car, there is a target balance,” said Leclerc, “a balance that you target for qualifying and for the race to extract the maximum out of the car. For now, we've tried different options today, I think I've started to have an idea of which balance we need to target to be the quickest on track. We'll have to finalise that for the last day, which will be very important for the qualifying and the race in Melbourne.”
Ferrari continued their strategy of keeping their cards close to their chest on Wednesday as Week 2 of testing commenced, with Leclerc finishing the day in P13, three places down on Vettel, both over a second off the pace. But had 2020 pre-season testing been a disaster for Ferrari so far, as some corners of the media were suggesting?
“No, no, no, definitely not,” laughed Leclerc. “We are focusing on ourselves, trying to work as much as possible without listening too much to the outside world… I can't speak for the others, but I'm pretty sure the top three teams haven't shown their true potential yet.”