Sainz and Leclerc will put the Ferrari SF71H to the paces on the team’s test track at Fiorano, Italy, next week. The dates for Ferrari’s private testing are not decided yet; however, it is expected that Sainz and Leclerc will get one day each.
Leclerc already has the experience of driving the car last year. The Monegasque had tested the car prior to the start of the 2020 season in Mugello.
Sainz, on the other hand, will get his first on-track experience of driving a Ferrari F1 car. Although the car is very different to the one he’ll be driving this year, getting in some laps will be vital. This is because the FIA has limited the pre-season tests to just three days this year.
The Spaniard missed out on testing Scuderia machinery on track late last year. Ferrari wanted him to drive at the young drivers’ test in Abu Dhabi. However, the rules don’t allow a driver already driving in F1 that year to take part in the test.
The Maranello-based outfit could have given Leclerc and Sainz the chance to drive the 2019 spec SF90. However, owing to the easy availability of the 2018 car, the Prancing Horse decided against it.
The Italian team had a nightmare campaign last year. They finished sixth in the championship standings with just 131 points. It could have been way worse had Leclerc not pulled multiple miraculous performances to give the team two podiums.
Last year’s SF1000 was ridden with problems. The engine was lacking power, the car had too much drag, and both drivers seemed to have no control over the car, especially Sebastian Vettel.
However, the team is far more optimistic this season. They believe they have rectified most of the issues and can equip Leclerc and Sainz with a car in which they should at least compete for more podiums and on a regular basis.
Nevertheless, nothing can be guaranteed, not unless its potential is seen in pre-season. The three days of testing in Bahrain (March 12-14) would be crucial for the Tifosi to know what to expect from this season. They’d certainly hope for a much better campaign from their team this time.