Leclerc completes first test in 2020 as Pirelli's test plan revealed

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Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc kicked off Pirelli’s 2020 intensive testing programme by completing multiple runs on the 18-inch tyres at Jerez on Saturday.

The Monegasque driver was tasked with conducting an intensive test programme around the Spanish race track where Formula One’s sole tyre supplier Pirelli continued to work on its 18-inch tyres. The two-time F1 winner completed 130 laps in total on the 4.428km track.

Ferrari used a modified version of their 2019 car to gain as accurate data as possible on Pirelli’s 18-inch tyres which are set to be introduced in the 2021 season. However, there are no images of the car in action as Ferrari declined to allow Pirelli to release any pictures.

Conditions were ideal after some initial fog that delayed the start of the day. In the afternoon, ambient temperatures climbed up to 20 Celsius degrees while track temperatures reached the 25 mark.

25 days of tyre testing

After several teams tried out Pirelli’s 2021 tyres in the second half of last year, all teams have committed to building mule cars for the testing of the 18-inch tyres during 2020. The Milan-based tyre manufacturer work out a 25-day testing programme fully dedicated to the 18-inch tyres.

Testing will be staged on different venues including Jerez, Fiorano, Bahrain, Barcelona, Red Bull Ring, Silverstone, Suzuka and Paul Ricard with the latter hosting multiple test days throughout the year. The French venue appears three times on the schedule with the last two runnings will be dedicated to wet-weather testing.

Teams will complete two days of dry running apiece while Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari will also complete a total of five days of wet-weather running.

After Ferrari kicked off the 2021-tyre testing at Jerez during a single-day running, the Italian team will be soon back in action at its home track at Fiorano right ahead of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix. In contrast to Mercedes and Red Bull, Ferrari will have only one wet-weather test day while its rivals will conduct a two-day test programme later during the season.

While on most of the test days, only one team will be in action, the Barcelona-Catalunya and the Silverstone programme will see multiple teams share the track. The American outfit Haas F1 Team will bring the action to an end before all teams conduct final running during the post-season test at Abu Dhabi with the 18-inch tyres.