Leclerc ends Abu Dhabi tyre test fastest for Ferrari

by James Eagles
Charles Leclerc - Formula 1 - 2018 Abu Dhabi Test

On his first outing as an official Scuderia Ferrari driver, Charles Leclerc recorded the fastest time seen in the two-day post-season tyre test in Abu Dhabi.

Leclerc’s time of a 1 minute 36.450, set on the 2019 hyper-soft tyres known as ‘compound 5’, was just under four-tenths faster than team-mate Sebastian Vettel‘s benchmark time from yesterday. The Monégasque driver completed a trouble-free 135 laps at the Yas Marina Circuit while acclimatising to the new Pirelli Motorsport tyres.

Vettel’s quickest lap from yesterday was set on the 2018 hyper-softs, however Pirelli suggest that there is minimal performance difference between the ’18 and ’19 compounds. The main improvement comes in the lack of graining on the ’19 spec.

Another young driver finding his feet for new team, Aston Martin Red Bull Racing‘s Pierre Gasly, stood nearly 1.5 seconds adrift of Leclerc on the same tyres. His best pace came in the last hour, while Leclerc topped both the lunch and evening standings.

Continuing his impressive start with the Racing Point Force India F1 Team, Lance Stroll was the third fastest man for the second day in succession. The Canadian stayed in the car for the whole day and was the best-placed 2018 hyper-soft runner with a 1:38.044.

Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport‘s Valtteri Bottas fell to fourth after finishing second to Vettel yesterday. The Finn sported the compound 5 tyres.

Carlos Sainz Jr. claimed fifth on the same tyres as Bottas on his McLaren F1 Team debut. The Spaniard could not quite get within two seconds of the ultimate pace through his 150 laps. Russian Artem Markelov was half-a-tenth behind for Sainz Jr’s old employers the Renault Sport Formula 1 Team, ahead of former Formula 2 rival George Russell. Like Markelov and Williams Martini Racing team-mate Robert Kubica, the Brit found his best form on the 2018 hyper-softs.

Behind Russell stood the day’s busiest driver Daniil Kvyat and Haas F1 Team debutant Louis Delétraz. On his return to Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda, Kvyat clocked up an impressive 155 laps; a 1:38.862 was his best time on compound 5. Kvyat improved on Sean Gelael‘s Tuesday performance by nearly 1.5 seconds, one of five drivers to beat their team-mate’s times from yesterday. Swiss driver Delétraz also used compound 5 tyres.

Similarly to yesterday, the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team were the second slowest team. Antonio Giovinazzi took over from Kimi Räikkönen and like the Finn suffered a technical problem, stopping in the pit exit and bringing out the red flags.

Kubica did not set a representative time, ending the day nearly eight seconds off the top and completing only 39 laps in the morning session.

PosNo.DriverNat.TeamTimeGapLaps
116Charles LECLERCMCOFerrari1:36.450-135
210Pierre GASLYFRARed Bull1:37.916+1.466129
318Lance STROLLCANForce India1:38.044+1.594122
477Valtteri BOTTASFINMercedes1:38.448+1.998143
555Carlos SAINZ JR.ESPRenault1:38.547+2.097150
646Artem MARKELOVRUSRenault1:38.590+2.140129
763George RUSSELLGBRWilliams1:38.802+2.35255
826Daniil KVYATRUSToro Rosso1:38.862+2.412155
950Louis DELÉTRAZCHEHaas1:39.069+2.619117
1036Antonio GIOVINAZZIITASauber1:40.435+3.985128
1140Robert KUBICAPOLWilliams1:44.208+7.75839

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