After having tasted the F1-75 challenger in the first free practice session for the United States Grand Prix last weekend, Ferrari test driver Robert Shwartzman is determined to wait the very latest developments in the drivers’ market. The feelings experienced on Friday in Austin convinced him even more that nothing can give him the thrill of driving a Formula 1 car, but Robert has his feet on the ground.
As he explained in an interview for Motorsport Italy, he will wait until there is a slim hope of finding a place on he grid, then if everything is closed in the Formula 1 paddock he will evaluate alternative proposals. The only fixed point is that in 2023 he wants to go back to wearing a helmet and suit: the experience in the Maranello simulator has helped him, but the desire to race on the track is too strong.
Let’s go back to Austin’s Friday practice. Did everything go as you expected or was there something that surprised you?
“I didn’t know the car and the track, let’s say that everything was new to me, and I admit I was a bit nervous before getting out of the pits. In the end, however, it was very good and I enjoyed it. It was a challenge, and the thing I’m most happy about is having completed the team’s program without making any mistakes. Obviously I would have liked to have more time, an hour was not enough for me to reach the limit, I felt I had more, in every ‘push’ lap of the six I had available, I was able to lower my time, then in the ‘last lap I encountered traffic and I had to slow down in the last sector”.
Do you have some regret that you have not been able to put together the best time possible?
“I wasn’t able to show what my potential was, but I’m happy with what I did in the hour of testing that I had available, and I believe that in Abu Dhabi it will be better, since I know the track and this experience will help me. I would have liked to be able to get back on track also in the FP2 session, when you feel the sensations that a Formula 1 gives you, you would like them to never end, but let’s start by saying that it was a wonderful experience”.
Last weekend you also experienced what it means to be a reserve driver, that is to see other drivers taking to the track …
“But this is taken into account. I think that every driver suffers a little from seeing others turn while you are sitting in the hospitality, and I am not an exception “.
When you got out of the pit lane, what did you feel?
“I didn’t feel a particular emotion, I was focused on the session: car, track and nothing else. I had a lot of things to do, the team gave me a nice program that suited their needs as well as mine, and for an hour I was totally focused on collecting feedback. “
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What impressed you the most about driving the F1-75?
“I had already driven a Formula 1 car before, let’s just say it wasn’t an absolute shock. But when you realize that the harder you push, the more the car sticks to the track… well, it’s an incredible feeling. You can prepare yourself for braking or acceleration, but when you feel the speed you can take on corners, it’s really impressive. “
Your main task this season has been working on the Ferrari simulator. What was it like driving the real car compared to the virtual one you have been dealing with for many months?
“I must say that the feeling we have today in the simulator is not bad at all, certainly very close to what I heard on the track, and this confirms that the work done at Maranello is excellent. It must also be said that in Austin I did not seek the limit, if I had made a mistake I would have risked compromising Charles’ FP2 session ”.
Is this something that a driver takes into consideration in this type of test?
“You know it’s not your car, and you have a responsibility to return it undamaged at the end of the session. Failing to do this is what a driver must never do, we are in the context of a race weekend, and it should not be forgotten ”.
What are your plans for the 2023 season?
“At the moment I am evaluating all possibilities. One thing is certain: I want to go back to racing, to compete on the track. The experience I had this year was useful, but as a driver it can’t last forever. I enthusiastically accepted the job on the simulator as a step that could come in handy in Formula 1, and I think it made me mature a lot. If there is no chance in this direction, I will look around. Of course, it’s not easy to even think about moving on, because I believe that if I had an opportunity I could have my say. Today in Formula 1 there are several drivers with whom I have competed in the minor leagues, and I don’t think I would not be able to match them.”
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