F1: Charles Leclerc fuels Ferrari hopes

F1: Charles Leclerc fuels Ferrari hopes

MONTMELÓ, Spain – Charles Leclerc (Ferrari), ahead of Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri), set the fastest time on the second day of Formula 1 winter testing on Thursday in Barcelona, ​​​​where Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes ) appeared in an unusual situation, but still. anecdotal, last place.

Will 2022 be poetic for Ferrari and a return to the happy days? The Italian Tifosis has been waiting to return to the top of the Scuderia since 2008. An eternity for the most successful team in F1 history.

Of course this is just the start of a season marred by major regulatory changes, and brand new seats overhauled from top to bottom, but Ferrari looks to be in good shape this Catalan winter.

Second and third fastest on Wednesday with Monegasque Charles Leclerc and Spaniard Carlos Sainz junior, Leclerc took the lead this time with a time of 1:19.689.

“We are still underdogs, not favourites,” said Mattia Binotto, Ferrari team boss. “But as Ferrari it was important for us to focus and prioritize 2022.”

In 2021, the Scuderia finished 3rd, after a disastrous year in 2020 (6). But the historic team has spent its time preparing for 2022.

Sought from 2021, F1 has postponed by a year, in 2022, a new technical regulation to allow cars to follow and pass each other more easily, promising more spectacle.

Cars “fly”

“We want more racing, but less dominance by teams with bigger resources,” F1 sporting director Ross Brawn explained recently.

For Ferrari, “we always said it was an opportunity,” recalls Binotto.

Will the future be golden again for the Running Horse? “Only the next few months, not the next few days, will tell. It will take at least four to five races to see the potential of the cars, there are still many things to adjust, to adjust. »

Furthermore, it is still the Englishman Lando Norris who has the best time, achieved on Wednesday with 1:19.568 in another team that wants to return to the top: McLaren.

Defending champion Max Verstappen (Red Bull) did not race on Thursday. Teammate Sergio Perez was the only red flag of the day, interrupting the session with a gearbox problem.

On a technical level, cars, heavy, more muscular, benefit again from the effect of the ground. This absorbent effect, banned in the 1980s, “sticks” the individual seats to the pavement.

F1 intends to rely on it to allow the following car to be less disturbed by the airflow from the car in front.

Since Wednesday, the teams have been dealing with this effect, without problems: we see the cars on the track “beating”, going up and down a little.

“I think most of us have at least underestimated this problem,” Binotto explained.

“When you put these cars with a flat bottom (ground impact, editor’s note), the situation is different. But that’s normal, it’s a learning process. »

In Italian, “solving a problem will be very easy”, but putting a lot of performance into fixing it will be “a very easy exercise”.

The Alfa Romeo team, faced with these problems, has not been able to complete as many laps as its rivals since Wednesday. Bad situation to know the importance of connecting kilometers to collect data and improve your single seater before the season starts.

Waiting for March 20 and the first race in Bahrain, Hamilton was only last, having finished his morning session after 40 laps due to a “sense problem” explained Mercedes.

His new colleague and partner George Russell “had a very productive session in the afternoon and did some important configuration analysis”, explained the team.

Listed at the end of the second day out of three :

1. Charles Leclerc (MON/Ferrari) 1:19.689 (79 laps covered)

2. Pierre Gasly (FRA/AlphaTauri) 1:19.918 (147)

3. Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/McLaren) 1:20.288 (126)

4. George Russell (GBR/Mercedes) 1:20.537 (66)

5. Carlos Sainz Jr. (ESP/Ferrari) 1:20.546 (71)

6. Sebastian Vettel (GER/Aston Martin) 1:20.784 (74)

7. Sergio Perez (MEX/Red Bull) 1:21.430 (78)

8. Nikita Mazepin (RAF/Haas) 1:21.512 (42)

9. Alexander Albon (THA/Williams) 1:21.531 (47)

10. Zhou Guanyu (CHI/Alfa Romeo) 1:21.885 (71)

11. Nicholas Latifi (CAN/Williams) 1:21.894 (61)

12. Lance Stroll (CAN/Aston Martin) 1:21.920 (55)

13. Mick Schumacher (GER/Haas) 1:21.949 (66)

14. Esteban Ocon (FRA/Alpine) 1:22.164 (125)

15. Valtteri Bottas (FIN/Alfa Romeo) 1:22.288 (21)

16. Lewis Hamilton (GBR/Mercedes) 1:22.562 (40)