Home Sport ‘First doesn’t mean anything at this stage’, says Leclerc after coming out...

‘First doesn’t mean anything at this stage’, says Leclerc after coming out top in testing

Ferrari’s Monegascan driver Charles Leclerc drives during the second day of the Formula One (F1) pre-season testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Montmelo, Barcelona province, on February 24, 2022. Picture: LLUIS GENE, AFP

Barcelona – Charles Leclerc went fastest for Ferrari on the second day of Formula One testing in Barcelona on Thursday, with the Italian team and rivals McLaren emerging as the most promising contenders in the early in sport’s new era.

The Monegasque, set a time of one minute 19.689 seconds, having taken over after lunch from team mate Carlos Sainz who was in the Maranello-based team’s car in the morning.

That put him ahead of Frenchman Pierre Gasly, who was second for AlphaTauri with Daniel Ricciardo third for McLaren.

The Australian, getting his first testing run in the car, was fastest going into the lunch break, after teammate Lando Norris had set the pace on Wednesday.

But he was usurped in the afternoon by Leclerc, who together with fifth-placed Sainz put Ferrari on top of the mileage charts for the second day in a row.

“Our aim is to drive as many kilometres as we can, to complete as many different tests as possible and that’s exactly what we did,” said Leclerc.

“Again, we should not get ahead of ourselves, because first doesn’t mean anything at this stage.”

Seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton, who drove for Mercedes in the morning, propped up the timesheets.

But his new teammate George Russell, who took over after lunch, put the constructors’ champions fourth overall.

“Some teams are looking pretty fast,” said the 24-year-old. “A red team and an orange team in particular look very competitive,” he added referring to Ferrari and McLaren.

“They seem to have things well under control and are on top of everything.

Sergio Perez took over at Red Bull from reigning champion Max Verstappen, who had clocked the highest individual lap count on Wednesday.

But the Mexican’s running wasn’t as trouble-free as he ground to a halt with a gearbox issue in the morning session, causing the first red flag stoppage of the year.

The 32-year-old did make it back out to end the day with 78 laps and the seventh-fastest time.

Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin bounced back from a difficult opening day to log a combined 108 laps for US-owned Haas.

The Russian, however, lost track time due to a damaged fuel pump, bringing out the second red flag of the day.

Guanyu Zhou, who this season will become the first Chinese Formula One driver, made his testing debut for Alfa Romeo. He completed 71 laps on his way to 10th.

Lap times count for little in testing with teams and drivers running different programmes and fuel loads.

They are also still familiarising themselves with their new cars, which have been radically redesigned to improve the racing spectacle in the biggest rules shake-up in decades.

Several teams struggled with a phenomenon known as “porpoising” with the cars bouncing as they sped down the straights.

The Barcelona test will conclude on Friday. The sport will then hold another three days of testing in Bahrain from March 10-12.

The island kingdom will host the season-opening race on March 20.


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