Charles Leclerc says his Ferrari Formula 1 test in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday felt different to previous appearances for the team, calling it “emotional.”

While Leclerc has tested for Ferrari on numerous occasions in the past, his run-out at the Yas Marina Circuit was the first since he was confirmed as part of its F1 line-up for 2019, when he will partner Sebastian Vettel.

Driver Ratings - Abu Dhabi GP

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Asked if this test felt different to previous ones, Leclerc said: “Of course, because it’s the first time I get in the car knowing what is waiting for me next year.

“It’s obviously extremely special. Also, it’s pretty special now everyone knows it and also all the team knows it. It’s all different, but I’m extremely happy.

“It was quite an emotional day.”

After seeing Vettel test on Tuesday, Leclerc took over the reins of the Ferrari SF71H car on Wednesday, completing 135 laps with a fastest time of 1m36.450s, beating Vettel’s benchmark by four-tenths of a second.

However, Leclerc stressed his focus in Abu Dhabi was understanding the 2019-spec Pirelli tyres in the first collective team running using the full range of compounds for next season.

“I always want to do well, no matter who I’m driving for,” Leclerc said.

“But today the main target was to understand the tyres, rather than demonstrate my performances.

“We focused on that, and I’m happy."

Leclerc will make his next official Ferrari test appearance at the start of pre-season testing next February, taking place at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

Between now and then, Leclerc said he would be working to "just get ready as much as I can", adding: "I can’t wait to be in the car in the first test and in the first race.

"It has been already a very long day with a lot of data to analyse, so first of all we have to analyse and understand all of this, and then for sure have a lot to learn, so it will be just to get up to speed as quickly as possible."

 

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