Robert Shwartzman has made his Formula One debut in a Ferrari junior test as he joined Callum Ilott and Mick Schumacher for a one-day junior test at Fiorano.
Shwartzman who was driving a F1 car for the very first time as he took to the wheel of a 2018 SF71H made ‘a cautious start’ before soon settling into a strong long run, with the Russian describing the opportunity as “… fantastic and great fun.”
Shwartzman who currently completes in Formula Two was particularly impressed by the difference in power and brakes, saying; “The power is what strikes you most when you accelerate the horsepower never seems to stop. The brakes are equally impressive: the car stops when it feels as though it’s too late to make the corner.”
We however won’t see Shwartzman participate in a F1 FP1 session until the season finale in Abu Dhabi across weekend of 11-13 December 2020, a week after his F2 campaign draws to a close in Bahrain.
Ilott took over in early afternoon despite having previously experienced life in a F1 car after participating in a post 2019 Spanish Grand Prix test for Alfa Romeo, although this was the first time that he had set foot in an actual Ferrari car.
The Brit proceeded to enjoy a strong run in the car setting a consistent pace throughout his time in the car with Ilott afterwards describing the opportunity as “unforgettable…” yet “very useful and I thank Ferrari for giving me this opportunity.”
Aero efficiency of the SF71H however left Ilott in awe, as the Brit said; “What struck me about the SF71H was its aero efficiency, which means you have grip levels you just don’t find in other categories. Then there’s the extreme power from the engine and instant braking.”
Current F2 leader, Schumacher then took to the wheel in late afternoon despite having raced the 2019 Ferrari SF90 and Alfa Romeo’s C38 cars in a post-Bahrain test that season, having made his F2 debut that preceding weekend.
Schumacher enjoyed a strong run as he completed a familiarisation programme after having completed 10 F2 rounds in 13 weeks, with the German describing the opportunity as “… very useful to get used to all the procedures again, which are pretty complex and also with how a team works in this top level of the sport.”
This however isn’t the only F1 car that Schumacher has driven in recent weeks after hopping into a F2004 which his father – Michael used to drive en route to his seventh and final F1 title, with Mick describing the car as “… an amazing car but quite old fashioned now.”
Comparing that experience to driving the SF71H, Schumacher said; “Getting behind the wheel of a 2018 hybrid car allowed me to understand how important the electronics are for the Power Unit and how much progress Formula 1 has made in terms of aerodynamics.”
Schumacher will be making his Grand Prix debut in F1 at the Eifel Grand Prix in Nurburgring on Friday 8 October and the 21 year-old is excited to jump into the Alfa Romeo, saying; “I can’t wait to jump into the cockpit in Germany and it will be nice to take part in a practice session for the first time in front of my home crowd. In the team, there are some mechanics who worked with my father and that will make the day even more special.”
Ilott will also be making his FP1 bow at the Nurburgring but with Haas as he replaces Romain Grosjean for the session, with the current F2 title contender describing his chance as a “a real privilege to get my first run in a free practice session,” at a track which he knows well from his younger days in junior racing.
Head of Ferrari Driver Academy Technical Department, Marco Matassa praised Shwartzman, Ilott and Schumacher for their effort given the contrast between F1 and F2 cars, saying; “For two of them, this wasn’t their first time in a Formula 1 car, but even so it’s not easy to switch from the driving style demanded from a Formula 2 car to one best suited for Formula 1.”
Matassa also noted his pride at seeing all three drivers in Ferrari race suits, saying; “On a purely emotional level, it was wonderful to see the lads in their red race suit in front of their Ferrari, posing for the group photo, especially with Robert [Shwartzman] who was having his very first drive in a Formula 1 car, which is an unforgettable moment for any driver.”