Scuderia Ferrari have become the latest team to return to the track with an older car to prepare themselves for the start of the delayed 2020 F1 world championship.
After Mercedes became the first team to return to action following the long shutdown period, other teams, including Renault and Racing Point joined the list of teams conducting private testing ahead of the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix.
Ferrari also returned to the track yesterday, bringing its two-year-old machine, the SF71H back into operation. Like Mercedes, the fabled Italian outfit also wanted to provide its drivers with the opportunity of getting back in the swing of driving again and for the whole team to work on the new anti Covid-19 protocols.
Sebastian Vettel drove the car in the morning, covering the equivalent of a Grand Prix distance. It was the first time for the quadruple world champion to drive a Ferrari F1 car around the Mugello circuit.
In the afternoon, it was Charles Leclerc’s turn in the SF71H. It was his second recent F1 drive after running the SF1000 through the streets of Maranello last Thursday. It was the first time for the two-time grand prix winner to master an F1 car around the fast turns of the beautiful cirucit located in the Tuscan hills. Leclerc went on to complete a comparable distance to a Grand Prix.
„The test was deliberately run in the same working conditions the teams will experience in Austria, for the opening round of the 2020 season. The anti Covid-19 protocols were assessed, with mechanics and engineers working in masks and respecting social distancing in a modified garage layout. Sebastian and Charles also did the same when they changed over seats in the SF71H at the lunchbreak,” read Ferrari’s statement.
Vettel was back in a Formula 1 car 116 days on from the Barcelona pre-season testing.
“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.”
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.”
Despite having been one of the most active drivers in sim racing, Leclerc said that needed some laps to get used to the speed of an F1 car again.
"How great was that, getting back on track for real. 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!"