Charles Leclerc has described his first feelings with Ferrari‘s 2023 Formula 1 car as “special” after he got behind the wheel of the SF-23.
Following a coin toss with teammate Carlos Sainz, it was decided Leclerc would drive the car first at Fiorano, completing two laps in front of 500 Tifosi at the team’s launch.
“It feels good,” reacted Leclerc. “It’s the first kilometres with this new project. After doing so many kilometres on the simulator, it feels special.
“Everything went smoothly. Obviously, with two laps it’s difficult to go into details, but I have already gave my feedback when I was in the car to the engineers to give the first feeling.
“The car was running well, smooth, so everything went really well.”
Asked what Sainz could expect from the car, Leclerc said: “The car feels good mate, it feels really good, loads of power.
“It turns right when you turn right, brakes when you brake. Everything feels good. You will enjoy it.”
Leclerc won two of the opening three races in the 2022 F1 season, before reliability failures and mistakes from himself and the team saw his title challenge against Max Verstappen quickly fade away.
He won just one race after his victory at the Australian Grand Prix and failed to convert six of his pole positions.
The 25-year-old says he drove the 2021 car, along with Sainz, during the off-season and has spent most of his time in Italy.
“I had a lot of preparation for the new season with the new car in the simulator,” added Leclerc. “I spent a lot of time in the Dolomites in Italy for training.
“I trained quite hard and the Dolomites is beautiful, I absolutely love it. I did two weeks there and then back to Maranello with a lot of simulator work on the new car.
“We also did one day in the 2021 car which was good, to get back to it a little bit, and now we are finally getting to the start of the season which is the most exciting time, especially after so much work on this new project.”