Charles Leclerc hails 'extremely special' Ferrari F1 test

Charles Leclerc described his day in Ferrari’s SF71H as “extremely special”, as he rounded out the 2018 Formula 1 season top the timesheets.

Ferrari protégé Leclerc secured back-to-back titles in GP3 and Formula 2 before stepping up to Formula 1 with Sauber this year.

Leclerc was confirmed as Sebastian Vettel’s 2019 team-mate in September and Wednesday’s post-season test marked the first time he had driven for Ferrari since the announcement.

Leclerc has previously driven Ferrari’s 2016 and 2017 cars during in-season testing and also had a brief run in the 2018-spec package in a filming day in the summer.

The 21-year-old set a best time of 1:36.450 to finish 1.466s clear of Red Bull’s Pierre Gasly, racking up 135 laps in the process.

“It’s very special for sure, getting into the car with the knowledge that this will be my team next year,” he said.

“It’s a day I’ve been waiting for, for a long time and I never thought it would come, 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.

Leclerc added that getting assimilated within the Ferrari set-up was a key ambition for his day in the car.

“[The main aim was] to get to know the team, even if I already knew most of them before,” he said.

“But [today] I was working with them for the first time since it was announced I would be racing with Ferrari from next year.

“It was important because every team has its own specific way of operating and today allowed me to see and understand how this team does things.”