Leclerc Raises Questions on Red Bull’s Testing Tactics

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc expressed uncertainty about Red Bull’s performance, stating that the team’s true form remains elusive. During the pre-season test in Bahrain last weekend, Red Bull opted not to conduct a full race simulation, leaving observers wondering about its capabilities.

Although Red Bull’s RB20 displayed notable speed over the three-day testing period at Sakhir, the team predominantly concentrated on shorter stints rather than comprehensive race simulations, differing from the approach of many other teams.

When questioned about whether Ferrari could gauge its competitiveness against Red Bull based on the testing sessions, Leclerc responded:

“The thing is that Red Bull is one of the only teams that didn’t do a full race simulation during the test, which is normally what helps us to understand where we are exactly. So it’s very difficult to know where they are.

“We did one. We know where we are obviously, and some of the [other] teams have done some race runs, so we have kind of an idea where they stand. But Red Bull is not the case.

“For now, it’s impossible to understand where we are. However, it’s a track we have been strong [at] in the past and I hope that we can challenge for the win. And if there’s an opportunity, we’ll do absolutely everything to take it.”

The true level of competitiveness between Ferrari and Red Bull remains uncertain at this point. However, Leclerc expressed optimism about Ferrari’s preparation for the upcoming season compared to the previous year.

He noted that the Scuderia has experienced a far more positive buildup to the season this time around.

He stated; “Normally I’m a person that smiles, but last year it was very difficult to smile about anything because it was a very, very difficult test, probably the worst I’ve ever experienced in my Formula 1 career as nothing was going right.

“This year it’s more in line with what we expected. But we shouldn’t confuse driveability and competitiveness. The car is much more driveable for now. However, competitiveness, we still have to see.

“If I end up P5 or P6 at the end of the weekend, having maximised our result, probably the smile on my face won’t be there anymore. But I hope that this won’t be the case.”

Leclerc highlighted the increased potential for Ferrari to capitalize on their early-season performance this year. He pointed out that compared to last season, the team already has a clear understanding of areas that require improvement for the SF-24, enabling them to focus their efforts more effectively.

He elaborated; “We know exactly which are the areas that we need to work on for this year’s car, that is looking positive for the future, because we can already start from now.

“The factory’s already focused since last week, on points that we need to improve for the next few months, which is looking good for the future developments.

“Then we have to see where is our starting point. For now, it’s difficult to understand where we are compared to Red Bull as a base.”

Leclerc emphasized that Ferrari particularly needs to enhance its performance in low-speed corners, a challenge he noted is not exclusive to his team.

He said; “We have quite a bit of under steer at the moment, [and are] struggling to rotate the car, I think this is a tendency around the paddock when I look at onboard, and I think everybody seems to be struggling with that.

“It’s just which team of those is going to be the one least limited by this understeer in low-speed. And at the moment, we have a little bit of work to do on that.”