Charles Leclerc has said that his Ferrari Formula 1 test in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday felt different to his previous appearances for the team, saying that it was "emotional" to complete his first test as an official Ferrari race driver.
Leclerc has tested for Ferrari on a number of occasions in the past, with the most recent (before his announcement) being a Pirelli tyre test in Monza. After impressing the Scuderia in both these tests and his debut season with Sauber, the Monegasque driver was brought in to replace Kimi Raikkonen in what was effectively a driver swap with the Iceman going back to the team he started with.
His Ferrari deal is rumoured to last until "at least 2022", and when asked whether this test felt different to previous ones, he said: “Of course, because it’s the first time I get in the car knowing what is waiting for me next year. It’s obviously extremely special. Also, it’s pretty special now everyone knows it and also all the team knows it. It’s all different, but I’m extremely happy.
“It was quite an emotional day. I always want to do well, no matter who I’m driving for,” Leclerc said. "But today the main target was to understand the tyres, rather than demonstrate my performances. We focused on that, and I’m happy."
The next time Leclerc will be strapped into his Ferrari will be at pre-season testing in Barcelona next February: "I will just get ready as much as I can", added Leclerc. "I can’t wait to be in the car in the first test and in the first race.
"It has been already a very long day with a lot of data to analyse, so first of all we have to analyse and understand all of this, and then for sure have a lot to learn, so it will be just to get up to speed as quickly as possible."
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing