Ahead of their FP1 outings, Mick Schumacher, Callum Ilott and Robert Shwartzman headed to Fiorano for two days of preparation with Ferrari.
Ferrari Academy Drivers Mick Schumacher, Callum Ilott & Robert Shwartzman are all confirmed as taking part in FP1 sessions with Ferrari customer teams between now and the end of the year.
Schumacher and Ilott get their chance next time out at the Nurburgring, with Mick Schumacher driving Antonio Giovinazzi’s Alfa Romeo C39 in FP1 at the Eifel Grand Prix. At the same time, his Formula 2 title rival Callum Ilott will be driving Romain Grosjean’s Haas VF20.
Robert Shwartzman has had a strong first year in Formula 2 and will get this chance at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – although it’s not yet confirmed with which team he’ll be driving.
Ferrari brought all three drivers to Fiorano for two days of preparation. On Tuesday, it was all meetings, engineering chat and general prep work but, on Wednesday, all three were given the keys to the 2018 Ferrari SF71H.
Current testing rules mean this is the most recent car available without mileage restrictions – cars of two years old and older can be used for what are, effectively, private track days to allow young drivers the chance to get familiar with contemporary machinery. There’s not a huge amount of difference between the 2018 and 2020 cars, due to stable regulations, making the SF71H ideal for the drivers to spend the day thrashing it around Fiorano.
Shwartzman, who has won three races in F2 this year, went first as he went out at 9am for an installation run before starting to put in faster runs. Ferrari say that he got off to a cautious start before turning up the pace as he got used to it, having never driven an F1 car before.
“I have dreamed of the day when I would drive a Formula 1 car for the first time ever since I was a little kid and finally today was the day. Driving this car was fantastic and great fun.” said Shwartzman afterwards. He used the number 35 for his run, the same number that fellow Russian SMP Racing driver Sergey Sirotkin used in 2018.
“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. Apart from the actual driving, it was also special to work with the team. There are a lot of them and they pay attention to every little detail. They really work at a very high level. Thanks to everyone who made this memorable day possible.”
Callum Ilott went next, taking over the car just before lunchtime. Ilott drove the Alfa Romeo C38 during last year’s in-season test in Barcelona, and got down to work quickly on this occasion. Ferrari say he put in a ‘good number’ of laps, and ran at a consistent pace that was ‘perfect preparation’ for the Nurburgring next week. He ran the no.53, last seen in use by Alexander Rossi with Manor in 2015.
“This was an unforgettable day.” Ilott said afterwards. “I’d already been able to drive a Formula 1 car last year, but today I was able to get to grips with the car with just ten days to go to my debut on a Grand Prix weekend. It was very useful and I thank Ferrari for giving me this opportunity.”
“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.”
Shortly after 3pm, Mick Schumacher jumped in the car. Despite being the F2 championship leader, he’s won fewer races this year than Ilott and Shwartzman. It’s far from his first time driving an F1 car too, as he tested with Ferrari and Alfa Romeo last year in Bahrain, as well as getting two promo drives of his dad’s Ferrari F2004 at Hockenheim last year and Mugello this year. He used the no.47, which is a reserve number in F1 last used by Lando Norris in an FP1 appearance with McLaren.
“I would like to thank Ferrari and the FDA for giving me the opportunity to get behind the wheel of a hybrid-powered Formula 1 car, a few days before my debut at a Grand Prix weekend at the Nürburgring.” said Schumacher. “It was 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.”
“A few weeks ago in Mugello, I was able to drive an F2004, an amazing car, but quite old fashioned now. 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.”
“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.”
Head of the Driver Academy’s Technical Department is Marco Matassa. He praised all three drivers after the day’s running, saying they’re all well prepared for their practice drives.
“I am very pleased with how today went. I’d like to thank the Scuderia Ferrari race team for its support, because in the middle of such a busy season, it’s no small matter to change the car configuration to suit the individual needs of all three drivers, while helping them get to grips with something as complex as a hybrid-powered Formula 1 car.”
“On the technical front I’m happy with the way Mick, Callum and Robert quickly got used to the SF71H. 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 to Formula 1. The car has much more power, a significantly more sophisticated braking system and power steering that requires sensitivity and precision to use properly. However, they were all quick and immediately began running at a good pace. I believe the laps they did today will be very useful when Mick and Callum run on Friday at the Nürburgring.”
“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 who was having his very first drive in a Formula 1 car, which is an unforgettable moment for any driver.”