Ferrari look strong, but will they face FIA punishment?

Both Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz completed successful runs in the Ferrari SF-23 on Thursday.

Ferrari’s pre-season in Bahrain got off to a strong start on Thursday as both of their drivers managed to enjoy relatively issue-free runs in the SF-23.

Carlos Sainz was the first of the two Ferrari drivers to take to the track in the new car, with the Spaniard managing to complete an impressive 72 laps in the Thursday’s morning session.

The only issue that the Spaniard encountered during his run was a dent in the nose of the car, which only appeared when Sainz was driving at a high speed.

It was initially rumoured that this flexible nose was an innovative new design by Ferrari which would somehow improve the SF-23’s performance, however the team later confirmed that this dent was “not intentional.”

READ: Saudi Arabia want to buy F1 team, have Saudi driver

It is believed that the air resistance acting on the car when it was travelling high speeds was forcing the nose to dent, a problem which Ferrari did not anticipate running into.

Sainz’s fastest lap time of the day was a 1:33:253, putting him third on the timing screens overall. 

Following Sainz’s run in the car, Charles Leclerc jumped into the cockpit of the SF-23 and managed a slightly slower lap time of 1:33:267, putting him as the fourth fastest driver of the day.

The Monegasque driver also managed to complete less laps than his teammate, with the 25-year-old only making it around the Bahrain International Circuit 64 times.

Article continues below

Ferrari were the second fastest car on track on Thursday in terms of top speed, with only Red Bull managing to go faster than the Scuderia.

READ: Jenson Button makes ‘strange’ claim about Lewis Hamilton’s car

The team clocked a top speed of 325km/h, which was only 1km/h slower than Red Bull but 3km/h faster than the next fastest team.

It was rumoured prior to the teams heading to Bahrain that Ferrari were set to be over a second quicker than they were in 2022, hinting to the fact that the team may be sandbagging in pre-season.

While setting fast lap times in pre-season is certainly impressive, with every team running different plans, fans will not get a true idea of how competitive each team is until the Bahrain Grand Prix kicks off the season.