Charles Leclerc is refusing to read too much into Ferrari’s strong start to Formula 1 pre-season testing in Barcelona, believing immediate rivals Mercedes and Red Bull are still "sandbagging."

Ferrari topped the opening two days of pre-season testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catlunya, with Leclerc setting the pace on Tuesday.

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Ferrari’s quick lap times, high lap count, and impressive reliability prompted Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas to both say their rival looked strong, with Bottas believing Ferrari seem “a bit ahead.”

Leclerc downplayed Ferrari’s start to testing, saying it was not truly representative until the other teams began to push their cars more and show their true colours.

“The performance has no [meaning] for now, because it remains testing and they are probably not pushing, and we are not either,” Leclerc said.

“We don’t know how much the others are sandbagging, so we’ll see at the first race.

“I think the main importance for these tests are to do the programme of the day, and that is what we are doing, so we are happy.

“We need to keep pushing because as I said the other teams are sandbagging and we need to see how much they have, but we are pretty happy with the car at the moment.”

Mercedes outpaced Ferrari for the first time in the morning session of Thursday’s running in Barcelona, but Red Bull is yet to have challenged either team.

Testing continues for four more days in Barcelona next week, running from February 26 to March 1.



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