Scuderia Ferrari Monegasque driver Charles Leclerc showed a touch of glass on the opening day of the 2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix by wearing a helmet with a tribute to his departing teammate Sebastian Vettel.
“Danke SEB” was emblazoned on Charles’ helmet which was a replica of Seb’s white lid.
The gesture was symbolic as it also signifies the final changing of the guard at the Italian team, as the four-time Formula 1 World Champion found salvation at Aston Martin when it was clear he was surplus to requirements at Maranello, who in turn have banked on youth by signing Carlos Sainz to the programme.
After his final Friday in Red, Seb acknowledged his teammate’s salutation, “I appreciated Charles’ nice touch in running today with a helmet dedicated to me. I hope we can give the fans something to cheer about this weekend.”
Unlikely as Seb again struggled nearly two seconds off the pace at the end of FP2 which was only good for 15th, while Charles wrestled the limp stallion around seven-tenths quicker to end his day eighth, albeit 1.2s off Valtteri Bottas’ top time in the Mercedes.
Seb continued, “We did quite a lot of work today but we have more to do, as we have still not managed to get the tyres into the right operating window, especially when it comes to the Softs.
“For qualifying, I think we will more or less find ourselves in the same position as last weekend. If we are able to put together a very good lap, maybe we can get to Q3, which would be positive for my last race with the team,” explained the German.
After his first lap shenanigans that led to an instant DNF, Charles was pleased with his day, “On a track like this, we expected to struggle a bit more but, in fact, we seem to be in the mix with the guys we usually fight with.
“This is probably not going to be as good a weekend as the last one in terms of performance, but it’s definitely better than we had expected. The balance of the car evolves over the course of the lap, as you have little grip in the first corner and then you gain more and more throughout the lap. Let’s work tonight and hopefully we can make a step up for tomorrow. I will also work on my driving as I am lacking a bit of speed here and there, but in the end, it’s tomorrow that counts,” concluded Charles.
Ferarri are set to finish the season in sixth place, their worst result since 1981 when they were 10th out of 11 teams.