New Scuderia Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc led the way on his first day of testing for his new team as the curtain came down on the 2018 Formula One season at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi on the final day of Pirelli’s 2019 tyre test.

The Monegasques driver set a fastest time of 01:36.450s on the Hypersoft tyre. Speaking following the session he commented by saying:

Of course it was emotional,” “Because driving a Ferrari is special and because this was a day I had been waiting for, for so long without being sure if it would happen. I am pleased about that and with the work we did. Our entire programme was based on comparison testing between this and next year’s tyres. For me, it was important because I also got to know the team better, although some were no strangers to me, given my time with the Ferrari Driver Academy. Over the next few weeks, I will work to be in the best possible shape and to learn from everyone in the team and my team-mate. I can’t wait for next season to start…

Aston Martin Red Bull Racing’s new driver Pierre Gasly was second fastest for the Milton Keynes based outfit using Renault power. The outfit switch to Honda over the winter. The Frenchman ended the day just ahead of Lance Stroll who was driving for his new team Racing Point Force India.

Valtteri Bottas who led the way on Tuesday for Mercedes was fourth fastest just ahead of McLaren Renault’s new signing Carlos Sainz who was fifth fastest.

Renault Sport F1 Team’s test driver Artem Markelov was sixth fastest for the Enstone outfit while Williams Racing’s George Russell was seventh fastest for the Grove based outfit as he begins preparation for his Formula One race debut with the team next March.

On his return to the team, Daniil Kvyat was eighth fastest for Scuderia Toro Rosso just ahead of the Haas F1 Team’s Louis Deletraz. Robert Kubica was 10th fastest for Williams Racing while the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team’s Antonio Giovinazzi rounded out the order in eleventh place.

Pirelli’s Head of Car Racing, Mario Isola commented saying:

The teams were able to get a useful initial read on the 2019 tyres during the two days of testing, with the entire range available, as well as all the 2018 tyres for comparison. All the teams were able to define their own run plans and mostly choose whichever tyres they wanted to test, so it’s not been easy to draw any immediate conclusions on track. We collected a lot of data, which we are just starting to go through now, and we will need to analyse this quickly because the compounds for Australia have to be decided in a week. At this time, we also aim to decide the compounds for the first five races of 2019. Initial feedback from the 2019 range is positive. In particular, the first important information we had from day one of the test was that the new compound 5 (equivalent to the 2018 hypersoft) is working as expected: similar to the 2018 hypersoft but with reduced graining from what we can see so far. However, Abu Dhabi is not a circuit that features particularly high speed corners, so this is an important factor also to consider. So far, we’re happy with what we’ve seen, and our intention is for these to be the definitive 2019 tyres. In theory we can still make some adjustments before the final homologation deadline on 1 December, but we hope not to do that. In the meantime, we’ll be studying the data carefully

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