He may have known he would be a 2019 Ferrari driver for more than two months now, but Charles Leclerc admitted he was still ‘emotional' driving for the team in Abu Dhabi...
Leclerc got his first taste of the SF71H shortly after being announced as a Ferrari driver back in September as he carried out Pirelli tyre testing at Paul Ricard.
However, Wednesday at the Yas Marina Circuit was his first time in the car since completing his time at Sauber and came with a focus on next season that Leclerc admits was special.
“For sure it was an emotional day, because it’s a day I’ve been waiting for for a long time and I never thought it would come,” Leclerc said. “But today this was the reality and I’m very happy. I’m also very happy with the work we have done today, so it was very emotional.
“It’s very special for sure, getting into the car with the knowledge that this will be my team next year. It’s very special, but when I drive a car I always want to go as fast as possible and do the best possible job for the team. And that hasn’t changed at all.”
There was always going to be interest in Leclerc’s performance given the fact Vettel had driven on Tuesday, providing a benchmark time. The 21-year-old duly went nearly 0.4s quicker than the four-time world champion on similar tyres - using next year’s version of the hypersoft compared to Vettel on the 2018 compound - but was keen to play down any talk of personal performance.