Charles Leclerc returned to the Haas F1 Team car for the opening free practice session at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace, replacing Esteban Gutierrez for the fourth time in 2016.
The Monegasque driver completed twenty-seven laps of the Brazilian circuit on Friday morning, finishing twenty-first fastest, just over eight-tenths of a second slower than regular race driver Romain Grosjean.
Leclerc was delighted to be back behind the wheel of the VF16 for the first time since the German Grand Prix in July, and back behind the wheel of a racing car for the first time since the Malaysian round of the GP3 Series, in which he leads the championship, since the beginning of October.
“It was great to get back into the car,” admitted Leclerc. “I love the Interlagos track. It’s my first time here. I love the second sector, especially. It’s very interesting.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve driven a racecar because we’re on a bit of a break in GP3 at the moment, and it’s been even longer since I drove the Formula 1 car.
“It was a bit of an adaptation in my first runs this morning, but in the end it all went well. We ran through our program and the team gave me the feedback that I was helpful to them, so that’s all good.”