Scuderia Ferrari-backed Charles Leclerc and Force India tester Alfonso Celis Jr. got the opportunity to add to their Formula 1 experience during Pirelli’s tyre running in Mexico on Tuesday. Sauber and Force India stayed on at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, with Charles Leclerc in the Sauber C36-Ferrari and Celis Jr. piloting the VJM10, as part of Pirelli’s preparations for the 2018 Formula One championship.
The young Monégasque racing driver completed 115 laps while Celis Jr. conducted 114 laps, with their pair running slick rubber in warm and sunny conditions. As per usual, drivers and teams conduct running without knowledge of the compounds being used, with the run plan dictated by official Formula One tyre supplier Pirelli. The data gathered during the test will be shared between all teams, in order to avoid one operation gaining an advantage. Charles Leclerc will stay on for Sauber to conclude running on Wednesday.
Formula 2 champion Leclerc is a contender for a Sauber seat in 2018, and has participated in three practice sessions with the outfit in recent events. Celis Jr., meanwhile, linked up with Force India towards the end of 2015 and this year stepped up to the role of reserve driver.
Charles Leclerc is a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy and won the GP3 Series championship in 2016, followed by the FIA Formula 2 Championship in 2017. In claiming the championship, the Monegasque racing driver became the youngest ever champion of the main support series for Formula 1 at 19 years 356 days old, and the first driver since Nico Hulkenberg back in 2009 to win the championship in their rookie season (a feat which only Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton have previously accomplished) and is the only driver to claim a championship with the Dallara GP2/11 chassis in their rookie season.
Charles Leclerc also acts as development driver for Haas F1 Team and Scuderia Ferrari. As part of his role as development driver, the young driver participated in the first practice session of the 2016 British Grand Prix driving for Haas. It was believed that if Leclerc wins the GP3 Series championship, he would follow Daniil Kvyat and Valtteri Bottas straight from GP3 into F1 with Haas. However this was debunked by Haas team principal Guenther Steiner who said that Leclerc would progress to the 2017 FIA Formula 2 Championship, which he has now done. He took part in the mid-season Hungaroring test following the Hungarian Grand Prix, driving the Ferrari SF70H. He was fastest on the first day of the test, running 98 laps in the process, but did not take part in the second day’s test.