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Charles Leclerc pinpoints key Ferrari focus on first day of 2023 F1 testing in Sakhir

Beyond the legitimate concerns that Ferrari fans may have after the first day of the 2023 Formula 1 pre-season testing session at the Bahrain International Circuit, it is worth remembering that – precisely – such tests have the clear goal of experimenting, trying different set-ups, downforce levels, tyres and fuel loads. In short, the lap time itself – down to the thousandth – can be judged as positive or negative depending on the compounds, fuel, power unit mapping and even the moment you go out on the track. That’s why Scuderia Ferrari Monegasque driver Charles Leclerc appeared more concerned by the work on his SF-23 car than by the actual lap times, which placed him in fourth position at the end of the first day of testing, four tenths behind Max Verstappen and the unexpected Aston Martin of Fernando Alonso.

“We have a busy first day of testing behind us. We completed 64 laps on my side, testing a bit of everything. Our focus was on set-up work, combined with some tyre and aero testing, as well as runs with different fuel levels. We’re going to analyse our data now and I look forward to another session tomorrow” – Charles Leclerc said, as reported by the Maranello team’s official website at the end of the first run in Sakhir.

Scuderia Ferrari began these tests with a virtual “second row”, thanks to the third and fourth place of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc himself, divided by just 14 thousandths. The SF-23 challenger appeared to be behind in terms of bouncing management, but team principal Frederic Vasseur played down the problems, saying they were more related to the circuit than the car itself. The Frenchman clearly also convinced Charles Leclerc, who proved to be calm in his post-testing interview after the first day in Bahrain but instead appeared very worried in the pits while the mechanics worked on the floor and rear wing of his SF-23 car.

After the interventions, Charles Leclerc still managed to keep up with the times of his teammate Carlos Sainz. It must be said that the two took their best lap time with very different track and environmental conditions: the Spaniard lapped in the morning, the Monegasque in the afternoon.

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