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Formula 1

Shwartzman makes F1 debut in Ferrari protege test

by Scott Mitchell-Malm
3 min read

Ferrari’s leading proteges Mick Schumacher, Callum Ilott and Formula 1 testing debutant Robert Shwartzman drove the team’s 2018 grand prix car at Fiorano on Wednesday.

Formula 2 title rivals Schumacher and Ilott will make their F1 race weekend debuts next week when they take part in the first practice session at the German Grand Prix, driving for Ferrari customer teams Alfa Romeo and Haas respectively.

Shwartzman, the 2019 Formula 3 champion and F2 race winner in his rookie season, will take part in FP1 in Abu Dhabi at the end of the year.

The Russian driver made his test debut on Wednesday morning as the first of the trio to drive the SF71H at Fiorano.

“It was amazing, I was enjoying every lap,” said Shwartzman. “The speed of this was another league, I never drove something quick like that.

“I got used to it and was pushing quite hard, I was really happy. It was really cool.

“The sensation was amazing. I’m very honoured to do my first ever test in an F1 car with Ferrari. It’s a big privilege.

Ilott took over at lunchtime with Schumacher, who has driven for Ferrari in official F1 tests before as well, drove at the end of the day.

The Fiorano test was a precursor to the practice participations Ferrari has arranged to boost the development of its three leading contenders to make it onto the F1 grid.

Schumacher said it was a “very useful” experience ahead of his FP1 outing, as he has not driven a contemporary F1 car since April last year.

The son of seven-time world champion and Ferrari legend Michael won the F2 feature race at Sochi last weekend and finished third in the sprint race to move 22 points clear of Ilott.

200156 Fda F1 Test Fiorano

“It gives me the opportunity to get another step closer to how the car behaves,” said Schumacher of the Fiorano test.

“Now I have a very clear view of how I have to drive the car and I am a step closer to how it will be at the Nurburgring.

“It does give me more confidence to arrive at the Nurburgring and know what I have to do.”

Ilott said it was “really, really special” to drive a Ferrari for the first time and something “I will remember for a very long time”.

“I don’t know exactly what to expect,” Ilott said of his upcoming FP1 shot. “You’ve got to approach it and do everything in the right way.


“It’s really exciting and nice to work in that environment, I’ve previously done the rookie test but this is a different environment in a race weekend. With all 20 cars on track it should be quite exciting.”

Of the trio, Schumacher appears best-placed to step up to F1 as he has been tipped to make his F1 debut next season with Alfa.

Ferrari has control over one of the Alfa seats, which is currently taken by Antonio Giovinazzi – but the Italian has not had a convincing second F1 season alongside veteran Kimi Raikkonen.

Giovinazzi is stepping aside for Schumacher’s FP1 outing at the Nurburgring.

Ilott and Shwarzman are considered outside contenders for 2021 F1 seats depending on whether Ferrari increases its relationship with its customer teams in any way, or individual deals can be struck.

Ferrari sporting director Laurent Mekies said last week that Schumacher’s and Ilott’s title challenges and the highly-rated rookie Shwarzman “playing with these guys straight away” has given Ferrari a “good problem to have”.

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