Ferrari protégé Charles Leclerc has opened up about his friendship with the late Jules Bianchi and the mentoring he provided in the years before his untimely death in July 2015.
Just days after he impressed Haas with an FP1 run during the British Grand Prix, GP3 front runner Leclerc was given the opportunity to drive the Ferrari SF16-T at Silverstone, though inclement conditions and a power unit issue limited him to just 19 laps over the course of the day.
Nevertheless, the 18 year-old enjoyed every moment of the chance, despite its relative briefness.
“The weather hasn't been amazing, but I enjoyed every second of it this morning, and unfortunately we couldn't many laps this afternoon because a little problem on the old power unit, but yeah , it has been a good day.”
“It's special, and I'm only 18, so it's even more special. When I was six years old I was always looking at the red car on the track, so it's unbelievable to be here, and I'm really thankful.”
A close childhood friend and godson to Jules Bianchi, who became the first driver to die as a result of injuries sustained in an F1 race since Ayrton Senna 21 years earlier, Leclerc admits he misses the advice and guidance he received from the late racer.
“I knew him from when I was really, really young,” he said. “He was my godfather and he helped me with most of things in racing. Obviously now it's hard without him because he always helped me, and I miss his help.
“He advised me really well in the past, and all his comments he gave me in the past I keep them in mind and try not to make the errors he told me not to do.”
Leclerc's outing comes two years after Bianchi sampled a Ferrari in a similar test at Silverstone in what many - including the youngster – predicted was a prelude to a move to the Scuderia
in the future.
“Jules was one of the talents who would have gone there if the things that happened hadn't have happened. But I'm definitely confident the driver academy will have someone who will make it into the top team.”