Ferrari continues its test programme with Sainz and Schumacher

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Scuderia Ferrari continued its five-day, seven-driver test programme with Carlos Sainz and Mick Schumacher getting behind the wheel of the team’s 2018 challenger, the SF71H.

Ferrari is nearing the end of its unique test programme that sees its two race drivers, Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz and five racers of its Driver Academy programme drive the team’s 2018 F1 car this week. Giuliano Alesi, Robert Shwartzman and Marcus Armstrong opened the test programme on Monday as the trio shared the same car on the same day.

On Tuesday, the team’s two-time race winner driver Charles Leclerc took over the car from the junior drivers, notching up over a hundred laps before handing its car over to his new team mate Carlos Sainz. The 26-year-old Spaniard made his debut in a Ferrari Formula 1 car on Wednesday, completing a perfect first day in red.

The Maranello-based continued its on-track preparation today at its own Fiorano race track that is located just a few metres away from its headquarters and museum. Sainz racked up 53 laps in the morning, helping his own integration into the sport’s most successful team by trying to get acquainted with the car’s basic features that could be relevant this year as well.

As soon as the Spaniard ended his first one-and-a-half day test programme with Ferrari, Mick Schumacher got behind the wheel of the SF71H in the afternoon. The car was not unknown to him as he drove it on 30 September 2020, when he drove the 2018 car on the same day as fellow Ferrari Driver Academy members Callum Ilott and Robert Shwartzman as part of the #RoadToF1 programme.

The Vufflens-le-Chateau-born driver soon got to grips with the SF71H today, with a trouble-free run as he worked through the first part of the programme devised by the Scuderia engineers. Just like the other drivers who have been at the wheel over the past few days, he also did practice starts and racked up a good number of laps - more than 50 - to re-familiarise himself with a Formula 1 car.

"Finally sitting in a race car again is a feeling I was missing a lot,” Schumacher added. “I think today has definitely been a positive day at the track. We managed to get through the entire programme that we had scheduled without any problems, and it was clearly very useful to be able to get through so much mileage at the wheel of a car in view of the coming season that will be starting in about a month and a half with the pre-season testing.

Today saw Schumacher drive a Formula One Ferrari car for the fifth time in his career. His overall debut came in 2019, when he lapped in the SF90 on the first of two days of a test session in Bahrain. Later that same year Mick drove an F2004 on a show run on the Saturday of the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim.

The 1999-born driver then had the chance to drive the same car again for a few laps at Mugello on Sunday 13 September, just a few hours ahead of the start of the Scuderia Ferrari’s Grand Prix number 1000. Finally, on the 30th of the same month, he had his first chance to drive the SF71H with which he was reunited today.

“The SF71H is a car from 2018 but its behaviour on the track and the feelings that it gives to the driver are very similar, both in terms of how it behaves on the track and physical stress. That makes it an excellent base when it comes to preparation for the new season. Driving at Fiorano is always great anyway because the track is technical and demanding.

„It’s been a pleasure to meet up once again with the engineers and mechanics I worked with last September and I can’t wait to get back into the car tomorrow,” Schumacher concluded.

The fifth and last day of testing will see Schumacher drive the SF71H in the afternoon before handing over the wheel to his fellow Academy member, Callum Ilott. The Briton raced in the FIA Formula 2 Championship last year and was in contention for the title after losing out to Schumacher at the season-ending race meeting. Ilott has just been confirmed as the Scuderia’s test driver for 2021.