Leclerc cautious over Ferrari gains as Vettel sits out Thursday morning
Charles Leclerc unexpectedly took over driving duties at Ferrari on day one of Formula One pre-season testing with teammate Sebastian Vettel recovering from an illness. Giving Vettel the best possible chance to recover, Ferrari have once again put Leclerc on driving duties for Thursday morning, the German now slated to get his first taste of the SF1000 in the afternoon.
Pre-season testing is extremely limited, down from eight days of running in 2019 to just six for 2020, and track time is vital for a driver to get used to their machinery and to mould the cars development in a way that most benefits them.
If Vettel is well enough to drive on Thursday afternoon, it is unlikely that Leclerc will drive again until the second test next week - his portion of the driving time, if split equally, have been used up.
Reflecting on the results from Wednesday's opening session, Leclerc admitted that it was difficult to read too much into the times he had set during the day. Leclerc finished 11th fastest of the 15-runners, 1.3 seconds off the pace.
"It's quite difficult to see that at the moment. I felt quite quick in the corners but it's quite difficult to compare one year to the other," said Leclerc.
"I think the good benchmark will be at the first race when the tyres will be in the right window. It's still very cold now and the downforce has quite a big effect on tyres.
"It's all about having the aero that puts the tyres in the right window, and for now, we can't really know.
"We'll just focus on ourselves. For sure, looking at the numbers we've got more downforce. Whether it will be positive, enough to be in the right window, only time will tell."
Ferrari were reportedly running with the power turned significantly down, a fact highlighted by their deficit on the long Barcelona straights.
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