Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team driver Charles Leclerc labelled Formula 1 Friday practice for the Austrian Grand Prix as a ‘productive’ day for the Swiss team.
Leclerc, who has been heavily linked with promotion to the Scuderia Ferrari team to replace Kimi Räikkönen is on a run of scoring points in four of the last five grands prix, and performed strongly in practice at the Red Bull Ring.
The Monegasque driver was ninth fastest in the opening 90-minute practice session with a best lap time of a 1m:06.215s.
Despite lapping just over a tenth faster in the afternoon session, Leclerc 1m:06.096s was good enough to take twelfth place, meaning he finished ahead of team-mate Marcus Ericsson in both sessions.
“In general, it was a positive day for us,” observed Leclerc. “Our pace [was] quite good and we completed the programme we had planned. It was productive for us to the test the different tyres we have for the weekend.
“We are looking at our data and making sure we can have a strong performance during tomorrow’s sessions.”
Strong performances in recent grands prix has led to speculation that Leclerc, a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy will receive promotion to the main Ferrari squad, as early as next season to replace 2007 world champion Räikkönen.
Part of Leclerc’s recent form has been the improvements that the Sauber team has made to its chassis throughout the season, and just last week in France, he advanced to Q3 for the first time in his rookie season, while also giving Sauber their first appearance in that session since the 2015 season.
He also won the Formula 2 feature race at the Red Bull Ring in 2017, as he went onto clinch the championship at the first time of asking.
“I really enjoy driving on this track,” he noted. “It is a good experience to complete my first laps in a Formula 1 car here.”