Charles Leclerc says he was given a taste of Ferrari’s 2022 car, in its virtual version, revealing that the future contender feels “very different” to the Scuderia’s current SF21.
Teams are hard at work on their 2022 design plans that will follow a very different set of technical regulations based on the use of grounds effects and 18-inch wheels.
But while engineers have been dug in for months, Leclerc is the first F1 driver to offer some insight into what he feels to drive next year’s car, at least in the simulator.
The Monegasque confirmed that both himself and teammate Carlos Sainz had sampled their future charger, but that it was still “very, very early days…”
“It feels very different,” said Leclerc. “Then I think it’s a question mark for everyone whether we are developing well or not.
“As I was saying, it’s such a different project, it’s very, very early days, so nobody knows where we are positioning ourselves compared to the others. But we are working on it.”
Leclerc explained how Sainz and himself are contributing to next year’s program.
“It is difficult because for now it’s only numbers and predictions, but we can definitely give our feedback, especially in the simulator,” he said. “
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“[We’re lucky] to have a very good simulator in Ferrari and we can try different things in that simulator and there, the driver input is very, very important.
“Then on other things for now, it’s very early days for us to actually say something.
“The only thing we can do is try to work in the best way possible with Carlos to try and explain what are the weaknesses of this year’s car, try to understand why we have those weaknesses and try to not reproduce those mistakes for next year’s car – even though the project is completely different.
“So I would say on the simulator, we’ve got quite a big input – and we can help a lot, and also with this year’s feedback to try and help the team to work in the right direction and for them to know exactly what they need to go quick.”
While Ferrari’s drivers are obviously taking a keen interest in next year’s plans, their immediate attention is focused on improving this year’s SF21 whose front tyre degradation issues were greatly reduced last weekend at the Red Bull Ring compared to the pervious weekend in France.
“There’s been a lot of work in between Paul Ricard and Austria,” said Leclerc. “Of course I don’t think we expected such a step, but it’s also a result of the work of the team.
“But we shouldn’t get carried away either. As big of a surprise as it was, in a bad way, in Paul Ricard, it’s been a very, very good surprise also this Sunday. But we need to understand exactly how we managed to get that result on Sunday.
“We’ve got some things that we think are helping that performance last Sunday, but we don’t understand the whole picture of it, so first to try and reproduce this type of performance consistently throughout the year, we’ll have to understand why we managed to do that on Sunday.”
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