Ferrari pre-season plans for Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz begin to take shape

Charles Leclerc standing next to Ferrari team-mate Carlos Sainz. Austria July 2022 Credit: Alamy
Charles Leclerc standing next to Ferrari team-mate Carlos Sainz. Austria July 2022 Credit: Alamy

Ferrari drivers Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz will have an early chance to get back into the groove ahead of the 2023 Formula 1 season with the team planning to stage a test with a two-year-old car later this month.

According to the Italian branch of Motorsport.com, Ferrari will run the SF21 car from the 2021 campaign during a three-day test at their Fiorano test track, with Leclerc and Sainz set to have a full day each behind the wheel to get back up to speed after the winter break.

The race drivers will be joined by reserve drivers Robert Shwartzman and Antonio Giovinazzi – recently confirmed to represent Ferrari in the 2023 World Endurance Championship – who will each spend half a day in the car.

The plans mirror the team’s approach to last season, with Ferrari also holding a test at Fiorano ahead of the launch of their race-winning 2022 car.

A private test is considered crucial not only for drivers to shake off the rust but for new recruits – in this case new team principal Frederic Vasseur, who was announced as Mattia Binotto’s successor last month and officially started work at Maranello this week – to familiarise themselves with the team’s ways of working.

Ferrari are not the only team to fit in some extra running time ahead of the new season with Mercedes, Aston Martin and AlphaTauri all confirmed to take part in Pirelli tyre testing with their 2022 cars in early February.

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This season will mark 15 years since Ferrari’s most recent World Championship triumph, with the 2008 Constructors’ crown their most recent title success.

Leclerc’s stunning start to last season, as he won two of the opening three races to establish a 46-point lead over eventual Champion Max Verstappen, gave Ferrari hope that the long wait for a Championship could end, but the team’s title challenge collapsed through a series of mechanical failures and strategic mistakes.

That resulted in Binotto resigning from his position as team boss last November, with Ferrari turning to Vasseur – who gave Leclerc his F1 debut at Alfa Romeo-Sauber back in 2018 – for 2023.

The team’s new car will be formally unveiled on February 14 before a single three-day pre-season test begins in Bahrain on February 23.

The opening race of 2023 will be held the following week as F1 heads into what is expected to be a record-breaking 24-race season.

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