Scuderia Ferrari completed the first day of its five-day testing at his home Fiorano track with Giuliano Alesi, Marcus Armstrong and Robert Shwartzman behind the wheel of the Italian marque’s 2018 F1 race car.
Ferrari kick-started its rare, intensive and important five-day, seven-driver test programme today with three members of its Driver Academy getting behind the wheel of its 2018 F1 race car the SF1000.
The team’s check list includes a long list of tasks for this week as it seeks to provide five members of the FDA with testing opportunity in a modern Formula 1 car, give its new driver Carlos Sainz the chance to make his debut for the fabled Italian team, hand its two-time race winner Charles Leclerc the opportunity to get himself up to speed after the winter break. Moreover, the test is also useful for engineers and mechanics to get back into the swing of all the technical procedures as well as the precautionary measures for limiting the spread of Covid-19.
Over 30 years on from the first test of his father Jean with Ferrari, Giuliano Alesi was the first driver today to head out on to the Fiorano test track. The weather was less pleasant to begin with as the track was slightly damp with a few snowflakes falling lightly, but the 22-year-old Frenchman managed to quickly adapt to the characteristics of the Formula 1 car.
“I’d like to thank Ferrari and the FDA for this fantastic opportunity today. To be able to get in the cockpit of the SF71H was incredibly exciting as was driving the car on track with my father watching and sporting the same race number he used. In terms of handling, the car is not too difficult to drive, but the power was surprising and never seems to end.
„The immediacy and efficiency of the braking is also impressive. This test was the best way possible for me to bid farewell to Ferrari. Now a new adventure awaits me in Asia and I can’t wait for it to start,” Alesi said.
Shortly after 11, Marcus Armstrong took over the car from Alesi. The New Zealander made his debut in a Formula 1 car today, becoming the second driver from New Zealand to drive a Ferrari Formula 1 machinery. The first driver to achieve this feat was Chris Amon who raced for the Maranello-based team from 1967 to 1969.
Commenting on his day, Armstrong, who raced last year in Formula 2, taking two podium finishes, said: “Obviously this was a special day in my life and it went exactly as I would have expected. That didn’t mean I enjoyed it any the less! Being at the wheel of a Formula 1 car for the first time is always something magical and when the car is a Ferrari, then it’s really unforgettable.
„People always say it’s the braking that is the most impressive aspect and that was the case, but also the aerodynamic downforce, the speed in the corners, the steering, the power and the perfect gear changes are all on a different planet compared to the other racing categories. I’d like to thank Ferrari and the FDA for making this day possible and I can’t wait to jump back in a Formula 1 car again in the future,” the New Zealander said.
Robert Shwartzman was the last to drive the SF71H today. The Russian, who ended his debut year in the FIA Formula 2 Championship in fourth pace with four victories, has already gained experience with Ferrari’s 2018 F1 car when he drove last September.
The 21-year-old also drive for Ferrari during the Young Driver Test on 15 December in Abu Dhabi, but he was behind the wheel of the SF1000 that time around.
“Driving a Ferrari Formula 1 car is always a privilege and I must admit that I was beginning to miss that feeling: today, along with the team, we worked on a programme aimed at improving my ability to provide feedback to the engineers and I hope I did a good job of doing what I was asked.
„As for myself, this was the best possible way to get back to driving in the new year. I soon felt comfortable in the car and with the team as it’s not even been a month since the last time and the feeling was good for all the laps I did. Now it’s time for me to focus on the Formula 2 championship with the Prema team, but I hope that I’ll get another opportunity to sit in a Ferrari again as soon as possible,” added Shwartzman.
Work continues tomorrow when driving the SF71H will be Scuderia race driver Charles Leclerc, while Wednesday will see Carlos Sainz make his track debut with Ferrari.