Charles Leclerc was in charge on day 3 and ended today’s testing session on top. The Monegasque completed 138 laps and set the pace with a best of 1’16’’231 ahead of Toro Rosso’s Alex Albon and Lando Norris from McLaren.
After two consecutive days of troubled mornings and afternoons for multiple reasons, Leclerc managed to finalise a full day of work almost flawlessly. In fact, the Ferrari #16 was hit by an exhaust issue, which caused a premature stoppage for Leclerc. However, it was not regarded as much of a serious issue, as Leclerc still holds his bright smile on his final day of pre-season testing with Ferrari.
“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” he said.
“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.”
What is key for Ferrari’s new ensign is to keep building confidence and awareness, as he gets more and more acquainted with the SF90. Leclerc spoke to the media during the lunch break and had the chance to offer a comprehensive evaluation of his experience with the car at testing so far. The overall review is definitely positive, but the down-to-earth side of Leclerc prevails once again when it comes to commenting his impressive laptimes.
“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”.
The team had to tweak its testing schedule, after yesterday's running was majorly limited following an odd incident at Turn 3, from which Sebastian Vettel walked out completely unhurt. The German felt there was an issue on the front left part of the car, which made the impact unavoidable. As a result, the SF90 suffered some heavy damage, preventing Leclerc from taking over for the afternoon. The team issued a statement later today, explaining what sparked the incident that precluded an entire afternoon of running. “After thorough checks we found that Seb’s off yesterday was due to a rim issue. The rim had been damaged a few seconds before by an impact with a foreign object.” Therefore, it appears that no structural failures have been detected and yesterday’s accident may have been just a mere fortuity.
The German will be taking care of the final day of testing tomorrow, giving us one last glimpse of what is going to happen in less than three weeks' time in Australia.