Sebastian Vettel feels Mugello “deserves” to host a Formula 1 grand prix this year after taking part in a test at the circuit for the first time in over eight years.

Vettel returned to F1 action in what was his first on-track appearance since Barcelona pre-season testing concluded at the end of February on Tuesday as Ferrari conducted a private test at the Tuscan venue in preparation for the start of the heavily-delayed 2020 season next month.

Mugello is among a number of European venues in contention to stage a grand prix on this year’s revised schedule with F1 anticipating more disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has already forced the opening 10 races to be called off.

And Vettel, who last drove at Mugello with Red Bull during testing in 2012, believes the circuit should host grand prix racing for the first time in its history.

“I was glad to get back in the cockpit after a break that was even longer than the usual winter one. I was also very pleased to see all the guys from the team at last,” Vettel said.

“It was great to once again get those feelings from a car and to do so at such a spectacular track. I really think Mugello deserves to host a Formula 1 Grand Prix.

"I hadn’t driven it for eight years, so it took a few laps for me to get used to the track and then I really enjoyed myself.”

Vettel’s teammate Charles Leclerc completed the afternoon programme at the test, which was carried out so that Ferrari could practice F1’s strict new hygiene protocols that will be implemented this year.

The test was run in the same working conditions teams will experience at the Red Bull Ring for the opening round of the 2020 season in Austria on July 5, with Ferrari’s drivers and mechanics wearing masks and observing social distancing guidelines in a modified garage layout.

"How great was that, getting back on track for real,” Leclerc added.

“I’d missed it! Even though I’ve been pretty busy with virtual racing during this long break, I needed to once again get that physical impression of speed.

“Being able to drive on such a spectacular track as Mugello, for the first time at the wheel of a Formula 1 car, helped to make this day even more memorable.

“Now, we’re looking ahead to the season and as from next week, things get serious!"

 

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