Leclerc Impresses For Ferrari On Day Two Of Pirelli Tyre Tests

Young 21-year-old Monegasque Charles Leclerc has impressed on his first outing for Ferrari this week during day two of the Pirelli tyre tests in Abu Dhabi. With the 2016 GP3 title and 2017 Formula 2 championships already under his belt, it’s hard not to imagine this young talent becoming Formula One champion in the future.

Day one of the testing, which was held on Tuesday, ended with teammate Sebastian Vettel at the top of the timesheets after sixty-nine laps on the 2018 hypersoft compound, setting an impressive time of 1m 36.812s in front of Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas, who set a 1m 37.231 on what Pirelli called ‘Compound 5’ – the softest tyre that will be on offer next year.

Over the course of day one, twelve drivers took to the Yas Marina circuit, including newbie for 2019 Lando Norris driving for McLaren and George Russell for Williams. It was also an opportunity for Polish driver Robert Kubica to get back into the car after his horrifying rally accident eight years ago. Kubica took over from George Russell during the afternoon stint.

Vettel struggled at the beginning of the day after a minor crash at turn one which brought out the red flag. However, he was able to set decent enough times throughout the long nine-hour session.

YAS MARINA CIRCUIT, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – NOVEMBER 27: Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo Sauber C37 during the Test Days at Yas Marina Circuit on November 27, 2018 in Yas Marina Circuit, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Joe Portlock / LAT Images)

Kimi Raikkonen had a disappointing end to his first outing for Alfa Romeo Sauber after suffering a technical issue in the closing stages of the test. In his F1 test debut, Pietro Fittipaldi also ran into some issues when his Haas stopped on track early on in the session, this too bringing out the red flag.

Decent times were set by all on day one, Vettel topping the times from Bottas, Stroll, Verstappen and Perez, with Lando Norris an impressive sixth. Hulkenberg finished the day in seventh followed by Fittipaldi, Kubica and Russell. Raikkonen finished in eleventh place after his earlier struggles and Toro Rosso’s Sean Gelael finished last with a 1m 40.435s.

Day two of the testing brought many surprises, most impressive of all being Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who finished at the top of the timesheets after a whopping 135 laps on the new ‘Compound 5’. Leclerc’s fastest lap, a 1m36.450s, was quicker than the time Sebastian Vettel had set on the previous day, however Sebastian set his time on the 2018 compound.

(L to R): Lance Stroll (CDN) Racing Point Force India F1 Team with Bradley Joyce (GBR) Racing Point Force India F1 Race Engineer.
Formula One Testing, Tuesday 27th November 2018. Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE.

Pierre Gasly, in his first outing for Red Bull Racing, finished the session on P2 setting a time of 1m37.916s, also on the new 2019 compound tyres. Lance Stroll who was testing for Force India slotted in third place, followed by Valtteri Bottas and new McLaren driver Carlos Sainz. In sixth place was Renault’s Artem Markelov, followed by George Russell and returning Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat. In ninth was Haas’ debutant test driver, F2’s Louis Deletraz, in tenth was Robert Kubica and in eleventh position was Sauber’s Antonio Giovinazzi.

The session was mainly incident free, however in the afternoon Giovinazzi caused the red flag to come out after his Sauber came to a halt in the tunnel exiting the pitlane.

This test in Abu Dhabi officially marks the end of the 2018 season, the next set of testing days being pre-season in Barcelona. Will Leclerc’s top form continue into the new season? Could we see the youngest Formula One champion ever be crowned? With just over one hundred days to go until lights out in Melbourne, we are eager to see what happens in 2019!

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Season Finale

GP ABU DHABI F1/2016 – ABU DHABI 27/11/2016
© FOTO STUDIO COLOMBO PER PIRELLI MEDIA (© COPYRIGHT FREE)

The season finale for Formula One will take place in Abu Dhabi, the final race of the 2017 season will be held in Yas Marina Circuit this Sunday. A season which was very interesting if we consider that it was the first year that Mercedes worried about the championship, Ferrari considered as a difficult opponent for the Silver Arrows, but some poor judgements allowed Mercedes to seal the constructors’ title in COTA and the drivers’ championship in Mexico.

In Brazil, Valtteri Bottas secured the pole-position, but Sebastian Vettel took the lead on the opening lap and led till the chequered flag, it has been Ferrari’s first victory in Brazil since Massa’s victory in 2008. Kimi Raikkonen finished third, behind Bottas. It was Vettel’s fifth victory in 2017, four less than Lewis Hamilton, Vettel has almost secured the second place in the championship as he is 21 points ahead of Bottas with one race to go. In Brazil, Lewis Hamilton repeated an epic achievement which he firstly achieved in Hungary in 2014, the Brit started the race from the pits and managed to lead the race for a few laps.

GP ABU DHABI F1/2016 – ABU DHABI 26/11/2016
© FOTO STUDIO COLOMBO PER PIRELLI MEDIA (© COPYRIGHT FREE)

YAS MARINA CIRCUIT

Laps: 55

Circuit Length: 5.554 km

Race Length: 305.355 km

Fastest Lap: 1:40.279 (Sebastian Vettel – 2009)

Two DRS zones, one is located on the long straight between turn 7 and 8, the second zone is between turn 9 and 11. The average speeds on the track are around 190 m/h, while the top speeds are 325 km/h, the circuit is consisted by nine right turns and 12 left turns and the drivers are racing in an anti-clockwise direction.

Nico Hulkenberg – “The circuit itself is quite amazing and the facilities are really impressive. It’s a long lap with a weird rhythm so it’s key to get comfortable with the change of flow. The corners are a lot different to each other so it’s vital to find a good balance, get accustomed to the conditions and master it. Abu Dhabi is a really fun place for a season finale. I’ve finished in the top seven three times in the last three years so I’m looking forward to it and ready to fight for some points. The constructors’ championship will go down to the wire for sixth in Abu Dhabi and I’m really relishing the challenge. The track should suit us better than Interlagos. It’s the season finale, there’s plenty at stake and that makes me very excited.I head to Abu Dhabi hoping to score well. I want to kick back on Sunday night at Yas Marina with the team and celebrate a job well done.”

GP ABU DHABI F1/2016 – ABU DHABI 27/11/2016
© FOTO STUDIO COLOMBO PER PIRELLI MEDIA (© COPYRIGHT FREE)

Pirelli has nominated the three softest compounds for the Abu Dhabi grand prix, soft, supersoft and ultrasoft tyres are available to the teams.

The ideal way to close the season is a battle between Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull for the chequered flag in Yas Marina. The three teams have high chances to win the race and the track is ideal for close battles.

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