Charles Leclerc has revealed getting back into the swing of driving an F1 car felt “quite quick” this year compared to previously.
The Monegasque, who has recently recovered after contracting COVID-19, was among seven drivers taking part in a test at Fiorano with Ferrari’s 2018 car to shake off any cobwebs from the off-season.
But not least because the winter recess period has been reduced this year, with the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix having taken place as late as December 13, Leclerc was able to settle back in relatively seamlessly.
He took his turn in the car on Tuesday after the Monday running was left to youngsters Robert Shwartzman, Marcus Armstrong and Giuliano Alesi.
Watching on was Leclerc’s new team-mate Carlos Sainz, who got the chance to make his debut on Wednesday.
“It was really good to be back behind the steering wheel,” said Leclerc when interviewed trackside by Ferrari.
“It’s only been 44 days [since Abu Dhabi] but it felt like a really long time, so it’s always nice to be back in the car and especially here at Fiorano, which is a track we see a lot during the year but don’t get to drive very often.
“Most years I normally take quite a bit of laps before getting back to speed, but this year I have to say it’s been quite quick. The off-season hasn’t been that long and it was nice to be back in the car not so long after last year.”
— Scuderia Ferrari (@ScuderiaFerrari) January 27, 2021
Although Leclerc will have to wait until March 12-14 to drive the 2021 Ferrari during pre-season testing in Bahrain, he still found it a fruitful exercise to try out the car from the campaign before he joined the Scuderia in 2019.
“It’s very useful, just to get back in the rhythm with procedures that are more or less the same,” said the 23-year-old. “A few things have changed but overall it’s very similar.
“Just to get back into the rhythm with the mechanics – working with the engineers to try and fine-tune the car because even though there is nobody to race against, we are always trying to find a better way to set up the car – all of these things help for the rest of the season.”
Leclerc also revealed Sainz had not sought any words of wisdom from him before his Ferrari bow having joined from McLaren.
“He didn’t ask me for any advice, but if he’s a Ferrari driver then he knows what he’s doing,” said Leclerc. “I will look at him closely for sure and good luck to him.”