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Leclerc hails 'healthier' Ferrari after first laps

:Ferrari's Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz sounded positive on Tuesday after their first laps in the car they hope will challenge dominant Formula One champions Red Bull this season.

The SF-24 car was launched at the Italian team's Fiorano test track with both drivers hoping it would be easier to drive and develop through the longest of campaigns with a record 24 races.

Leclerc recalled how last year he had not been happy with the overly sensitive car's behaviour after three or four laps of the shakedown.

"This year the car feels healthier and in a better place," he told reporters after three laps "with cameras stuck all around the car and not really pushing to the limit.

"In terms of actual feeling of the very first laps, I would say I’ve had a better feeling this year than I did last year," he added, while cautioning that it meant nothing in terms of performance if rivals had made bigger steps.

The sport's most successful team, and the only one to have competed in every world championship since 1950, dropped to third overall last year behind Mercedes and Red Bull.

Leclerc said the aim for 2024 was "to be front runners all the time".

Spaniard Sainz, who is in his final year at Maranello before making way for Mercedes's seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton in 2025, did two laps.

"It was a good installation lap, nothing happened," he said. "So far everything is going smoothly."

Sainz was the only driver last season to beat Red Bull, his victory in Singapore denying the champions a sweep of all 22 races.

The car is the first fully conceived under team boss Fred Vasseur, who took over from Mattia Binotto in January 2023, and the Frenchman said the team needed to continue last season's strong finish.

"We have also to be focused