Two-time Grand Prix winner Charles Leclerc drove his first laps in 2021 as the Monegasque star took to Ferrari’s test track at Fiorano today to drive the SF71-H, Ferrari’s 2018 challenger that pushed Mercedes quite hard in the fight for the championship three years ago. It was also Leclerc’s first time in a Formula 1 car since he tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month.
Leclerc will be hoping for a better 2021 on the circuit. Despite a strong personal showing last year that included two podiums – and regularly outpacing Sebastian Vettel – Ferrari were a mile off challenging the likes of Mercedes and Red Bull. 8th in the Drivers’ Championship was all he could show for his best efforts.
Ferrari said in a press release that ''he was able to get down to work again with the team, reacquainting himself with procedures and driving a Formula 1 car for over 100 laps. On Charles’ programme were practice starts and work aimed at the new championship and pre-season testing which takes place in mid-March.’’
“Getting back in the car today was great, in fact it was brilliant! Seeing my mechanics again, putting the race suit on, doing my warm-up routine, putting on my helmet and finally jumping in the car and pressing the starter button… the sound of a Ferrari engine is always magic.
The day was simply perfect and we got through all the work we had planned to do. I really enjoyed myself! Now I hand over to Carlos and I wish him the best of luck for tomorrow.”
Carlos Sainz was in attendance to observe his teammate before driving a works Ferrari for the first time tomorrow. The Spanish driver will also take the wheel of the SF71-H on Thursday morning.
2021 Haas driver Mick Schumacher will have his chance on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning, followed by his 2020 F2 title rival Callum Ilott who will take over on Friday afternoon.