Charles Leclerc says he feels “at ease” with the new Ferrari SF21 after struggling with rear stability last season.
The 2020 season was one of Ferrari’s worst in quite some time – they finished sixth in the constructors’ standings, their drivers struggling to find the pace in the SF1000 that they were once able to exploit from their 2019 challenger, the SF90. A number of issues contributed to Ferrari’s detereoration from its 2019 edge, but one of these issues turned out to be the lack of balance in the car’s rear.
After a weekend of pre-season testing at Bahrain, Charles Leclerc reports that the rear stability of the SF21 is a huge improvement to the SF1000 that caused some difficulties for the drivers last year.
“It is quite difficult with these conditions to compare with last year, but, for now, the balance feels quite good and I’m at ease with the car,” Leclerc remarked.
“Last year I was struggling quite a lot when there were warm temperatures and this year it feels a bit better for now, especially from the rear of the car. So let’s wait and see but for now, it feels positive.
“The improvements to the rear end of the SF21 are both aerodynamic and mechanical,” he added.
“There’s not only been progress aerodynamically but also on the rear end of the car as a whole. So it’s very difficult for us to make the difference between aero and mechanical in the balance of the car but the fact is that I feel a bit more confident with the rear of the car, so this is positive.”
However, Leclerc is still dubious about the team’s ability to return to their peak performance before last year’s disappointment, suggesting that the Maranello squad is unable to confidently determine their pace come the start of the season.
“[In terms of] big gains, I think we’ll only know at the first qualifying whenever we put everything together,” said Leclerc.
“But the first data shows that what we have measured on track is similar to the gains we thought we did at the factory, which is already positive. But then whether it will be the case when we put everything quick and then this we’ll see.”