Day 3 of the second Catalunya test: Ferrari back to first with...

Day 3 of the second Catalunya test: Ferrari back to first with Leclerc

Charles Leclerc
photo: Ferrari

Charles Leclerc was fastest on the third day of the second 2019 pre-season Formula 1 test.

Leclerc tried various set-ups before pitting to prepare for the simulation work. Before lunch, the SF90 was fitted with the soft compound tyres and Charles set his best time of 1:16.231. Having done 56 laps in the morning, Ferrari then began a race simulation in the afternoon. Charles took off from the starting place at the end of the pit lane and the full race distance went off without a hitch, with the mechanics getting in some pit stop practice. The car then pitted for routine checks, before getting on with the programme.

Shortly before the chequered flag to end the day, an issue on one exhaust meant Leclerc had to park at the side of the track at Turn 9, but overall it had been a profitable day.

“It didn’t look as though today would be easy, given that we had to make up for yesterday’s lost time, but we got it done and that was very positive, especially as this was my last day in the car before Australia,” commented Leclerc. “I am very happy because we worked really well. It’s been an encouraging start to the season and I feel about ready. Now, I can’t wait to take part in my first real Grand Prix with Ferrari.”

Leclerc also talked to the media during the lunch break and gave an overview of the tests. “The SF90 is solid and the balance is good and consistent,” he said. “That’s been the clear impression right from the first day and it hasn’t changed. I’ve still got a lot to learn, but up until now, I can say I’m satisfied. My lap time? Of course it’s nice to top the time sheet, but it doesn’t mean anything. What matters is that, lap after lap, I am getting more and more dialled in to this car.”

Alexander Albon with Toro Rosso gave the second time.

“I’m quite happy with how winter testing went as I was able to do a lot of laps and maximize my time in the car. It’s still early days and we won’t know until Melbourne what everyone else has been working on, but I think we can be satisfied with how everything turned out the past four days. We managed to have another day cracking the 100-lap mark, so that’s a testament to the team’s hard work and the reliability from Honda”, Albon said.

“Coming into testing you always want to get the most mileage as possible and we’ve done that, so it’s been a lot of learning and getting comfortable with the car – something I wouldn’t have been able to do if we weren’t reliable. Overall, we’re in a good position with the car and there’s been no nasty surprises. There’s still a few things we need to tick off tomorrow before we finish testing, but it’s been a successful pre-season test as we were able to trial many things to see what works well for us. It was a great job by the team to get a good baseline for the car so that we could build on it throughout the two weeks.”

Lando Norris was third fastest. He completed 84 laps on his final day of running in the McLaren MCL34 before the start of the season.

In the morning session the team experimented with varying fuel levels and tyre compounds. The afternoon running was disrupted by a suspected exhaust issue, the cause of which McLaren is still investigating.

Lando was able to return to the track in the late afternoon and completed some valuable race procedure simulations as part of a series of final preparations ahead of his debut Australian Grand Prix.

“The morning went well, and we made some small improvements from the last two days. Many of the runs this morning were beneficial in helping us gain a better understanding of the car”, Norris commented.

“I tried out various configurations during short runs, which gave us more information on how the car reacts to different tyres and fuel loads. We followed that with some longer runs on harder tyres that helped us to improve the balance of the car.”

“I’m more prepared for Australia than I was at the start of testing, especially for the longer runs. There’s definitely still a lot of work to do, but overall I feel comfortable with the baseline we have and the direction we want to push in.”

“I feel ready, and I’m going to spend the next two weeks working hard in the factory on everything I need to do to prepare our set-up for Melbourne.”