Carlos Sainz Jr says his first test as a Ferrari Formula 1 driver was “a day I will never forget” in a 2018-spec car at the Fiorano test track.
The 26-year-old will become only the Scuderia’s third-ever Spanish F1 race driver, following Marquis Alfonso de Portago and Fernando Alonso, when the 2021 season kicks off at the end of March in Bahrain.
His 2021 team-mate Charles Leclerc and WRC legend father Carlos Sainz were on hand to watch him from the pits, before Leclerc left for a seat fitting at the Scuderia’s vehicle assembly department.
Following Sainz’s winter move from McLaren, Ferrari planned to give the two-time F1 podium finisher private running in one of its older cars in a bid to get him up to speed. With pre-season testing cut back to just three days in 2021 – down from six last year – a run-out in one of Ferrari’s 2018-spec SF71H cars was intended to help Sainz assimilate with his new race crew and get used to the team’s systems.
“A day I will never forget!” said Sainz, having completed over 100 laps at Fiorano. “This morning, the alarm went off at dawn because we had some very early meetings before going out on track.
“One of the most special moments for me today was when I arrived at the circuit and I saw the Ferrari with my number 55 on it. I was eager to jump in the car and that first installation lap was exciting. Then we got down to work and I am very pleased with how the day unfolded. We were able to get through an extensive programme and I was able to familiarise myself with the whole set-up: the engineers and mechanics, the steering wheel, the procedures which are obviously a bit different to those on the car I drove last season.
“It was very nice to have my father there at such an important moment in my career. And I’d like to thank Mattia, Laurent and everyone at Ferrari for such a warm welcome and such a positive first day in the 2018 car. I am very happy and could not have wished for a better start.”
Carlos will drive the car again on Thursday morning, before handing over to Haas F1 signing Mick Schumacher in the afternoon. Test driver Callum Ilott will complete its week-long programme on Friday afternoon.