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Leclerc spots blip in ability of 2022 F1 cars to follow closely

Ferrari Formula 1 driver Charles Leclerc has reported an intriguing “blip” in the ability of the 2022 machines to follow another car closely.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75

Alessio Morgese

After the first three days of testing with their new cars in Barcelona F1 drivers have confirmed that the regulations have achieved what was intended and made it easier to follow a car ahead.

However Leclerc says that the ability to follow dropped off as he drew to within a second of the car ahead – before it picked up again as he closed within half a second.

Despite that apparent anomaly, Leclerc said he was pleased with the overall improvement compared to the past.

"It is quite interesting,” said the Monegasque driver. “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."

Carlos Sainz Jr., Ferrari F1-75

Carlos Sainz Jr., Ferrari F1-75

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

Leclerc’s Ferrari team mate Carlos Sainz was also upbeat about the improved ability to follow.

“I already felt some differences,” said the Spaniard. “It is pretty obvious already. And I'm relatively positive about it, and optimistic that it's I think going in the right direction.”

World Champion Max Verstappen also gave encouraging feedback after his initial experience in Barcelona.

“I've been following a few cars, and it seems like it's a little bit easier to stay behind,” said the Red Bull driver.

“At least you don't have this weird loss of downforce where suddenly you have a lot of understeer or massive oversteer.

“Of course, I don't expect it to be fully gone and that you can follow on the rear diffuser, because of the speeds we're still doing in an F1 car, but it all seems a bit more under control. The cars are fine.”

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F1 returnee Alex Albon was another to report an improvement.

“I had a couple of laps behind [Pierre] Gasly,” he said. “It feels good, the initial feeling. Obviously I haven't raced in a while, so it's a bit harder on that side.

“But I was surprised how fast I could stay in through Turn 2 and Turn 3, almost under driving because I was expecting worse, if that makes sense. But the initial feeling is positive.”

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