Ferrari optimistic over SF21 progress but it 'does not mean we are fast'

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Ferrari starts the new Formula 1 season "optimistic" after seeing decent progress with their SF21 car in testing.

The Scuderia had a solid if unspectacular three days in Bahrain, as new driver Carlos Sainz ended with the third-fastest time - albeit a second down on Red Bull using the same tyres.

Ferrari was also one of three teams to complete over 400 laps, customer team Alfa Romeo being another in tied-first with AlphaTauri.

And Charles Leclerc spoke positively comparing the new Prancing Horse to its lacklustre predecessor.

“The first data shows what we have measured on track is similar to the gains we thought we did at the factory, which is always really positive," he was quoted by The Race.

“For now, the balance felt quite good and I’m at ease with the car.

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“Last year I was struggling quite a lot when there were warm temperatures and this year it feels a bit better for now, especially from the rear of the car.

“[Whether it’s] big gains I think we will only know in the first qualifying when we put everything together.

“Let’s wait and see, but for now it feels positive at least.”

Also happy was Ferrari chief Mattia Binotto, who believes the main weakness from 2020 has been addressed.

“The car is going quite well compared to our expectations," said the Swiss via Sky Italia. "This does not mean we are fast, but that we are developing the car as we should.

20107 f1 test bahrain sf21 day 3

“Last year here in Bahrain we didn’t make the cut in Q3. I think today the speed on the straights is not a problem anymore, since both the engine and the aerodynamics are better.

“About where we are compared to the other teams, it’s [too] early to say," he added. "We will understand that in the next 15 days, or maybe even later, since the Bahrain track does not represent the whole Championship.

“At the beginning of the season, it’s right to be always optimistic and to keep the enthusiasm all over the season,” he concluded.