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Leclerc: F1 practice debut ‘one of the best days of my life’

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Charles Leclerc was buoyant following his maiden appearance in a Formula 1 race weekend session with Haas on Friday, calling it “one of the best days of my life”.

Leclerc, 18, joined the Ferrari Driver Academy at the beginning of the season that also incorporated a development role at the new Haas team.

After previously testing a 2014 Ferrari privately at Fiorano, Leclerc got his first run in a current-spec F1 car at Silverstone on Friday in FP1.

Piloting the Haas VF-16 car, the Monegasque racer finished the session 18th-fastest, 1.3 seconds behind regular Haas driver Romain Grosjean.

“It’s been an amazing experience for my first time in a Formula 1 car,” Leclerc said.

“I was struggling quite a lot at the beginning, as Silverstone is quite a hard track with lots of high-speed corners, and I found the steering wheel quite stiff in comparison to anything I’ve driven before.

“However, it was a great session and lap after lap I gained confidence. The last run was on old tires, so we couldn’t show our real pace, but I think we were quite fast.

“We completed the program and that was the main aim, so I’m happy with that.

“It was probably one of the best days of my life, and to do it with Haas has been even more amazing.”

“Charles did a good job this morning in FP1,” team principal Guenther Steiner added.

“We must remember that this was his first time in an F1 car – under difficult conditions too, as the track was still a little damp.

“He did a good job and we got all the data we needed from his runs.”

Leclerc’s next practice run-out with Haas is set to come in Hungary in two weeks’ time.

IndyCar teams with NASCAR on IMS road course doubleheader in 2021

IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader 2021
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The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.

IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.

This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.

INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists

IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.

“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.