Ferrari focused on car-balance weaknesses with SF-23 F1 car

Charles Leclerc says Ferrari focused on addressing specific car balance weaknesses on its new SF-23 Formula 1 challenger and has since seen "some really positive signs" in its 2023 simulator preparations.

Ferrari SF-23. detail side

Ferrari's new car was revealed on Tuesday in a public season launch event at its Fiorano track that included the car's first installation laps, which took place with Leclerc at the wheel before he handed over to team-mate Carlos Sainz.

Although each driver could only complete a handful of laps on demonstration Pirelli tyres – two for Leclerc and three for Sainz – they were able to provide their initial feedback to Ferrari's engineers ahead of a 100km filming day session on Wednesday and before the official 2023 F1 pre-season test takes place in Bahrain next week.

"It feels good, it feels a little bit different," Leclerc said of his opening miles in the SF-23.

"But, to be honest, it's difficult, especially on track now, to really feel the differences because only two laps [of] not pushing that much.

"I tried too but yeah… obviously with also demo tyres etc, it's difficult to get a proper feeling.

"But, from the work we've done [before the launch], I think we are going in the right direction.

"We took a lot of the 2022 car weaknesses and tried to work on them. Especially on the simulator and had some really positive signs.

"But, we still need to wait until probably the test in Bahrain in order to push the car for consecutive laps to see whether this progress is also valid in reality."

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari, Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal Ferrari, 
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari, Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal Ferrari, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari

Photo by: Ferrari

When asked to specify the weaknesses of Ferrari's 2022 car, which started off as the season's leading package before being outshone by Red Bull, Leclerc explained that his squad had been working to improve the handling balance on its new car.

Specifically, it is aiming to make it competitive at a wider range of corner and circuit types – something at which Red Bull's RB18 excelled.

This difference was particularly exposed for Ferrari at last season's Mexican Grand Prix, when the F1-75 struggled badly for ride quality and car balance through both slow and fast turns when unable to run in a high engine mode due to the limitations of its turbo arrangement and with the reliability issues that blighted Ferrari's 2022 also in mind at a car-breaking track.

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"Let's say that the car balance last year was quite open, in a way, from low-speed to high-speed corners," Leclerc said of the F1-75's weaknesses on handling.

"Then going into the specifics of that I won't go. But, we've been working on that to try and put the balance closer together from the low-speed to the high-speed.

"And on the simulator, it seems good. There was also some development mostly for the race [and] this will have to wait and see [in] Bahrain because obviously on the simulator it's very difficult to reproduce that."

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