Charles Leclerc has said it was a “great honour” for him to drive the Scuderia Ferrari SF70H car at the Hungary test, but is not getting carried away when it comes to the possibility of finding a place on the grid for the next Formula One season.
The Formula 2 leader Charles Leclerc, who also tested a Ferrari at Silverstone last season, has been tipped to join F1 team Sauber next year after the Swiss team extended their partnership with Ferrari and, on his first time inside a Formula 1 car, the 19-year-old topped the timesheets on the first day of the in-season testing session of ahead of Stoffel Vandoorne (McLaren) and Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes). A lap that would have placed him ninth on the grid for Sunday’s race – 1.6secs off Sebastian Vettel’s pole position time at the Hungaroring circuit – the performance was notable for the way it was achieved on the soft tyres, unlike the super softs used in qualifying by the drivers on Saturday.
“Driving a Ferrari is never a ‘normal’ experience. I felt as though I was driving a race car for the very first time. It is a great honour I have been accorded and I thank Ferrari with all my heart for this opportunity. I am pleased with the work I did and I hope the team is too. Driving the SF70H was a fantastic feeling and coming from F2, it is a whole other world, from every point of view. It was the first time that I have driven a Formula 1 car with the wider tyres and this level of aerodynamic downforce and it was an incredible feeling. I also learned a lot from the work in the garage: Ferrari has the best engineers in the world and I felt very comfortable working with them. To set the fastest time is nice, but, in testing, its importance is only relative. I can now go on holiday in a happy mood, before concentrating on the second part of the F2 season. For the moment, Formula 1 is just a dream. I still have work to do and I know that: one step at a time.” – the 19-year-old Monegasque racing driver and reigning GP3 champion explained, as reported by the official Scuderia Ferrari website on Tuesday.
Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen and his team-mate Sebastian Vettel will split the morning and afternoon sessions between them for the Maranello team on Wednesday, in the second and final day of testing at the Hungaroring track, ahead of the Formula One summer break.