The 2022 Formula 1 season now moves from the Far East to the Americas, for this weekend’s United States Grand Prix, scheduled to take place at the Circuit Of The Americas in Austin.
For this next race of the championship, the Maranello team will have three drivers on its books in Texas; Carlos Sainz, Charles Leclerc and Robert Shwartzman, the latter driving the Monegasque’s car in Friday’s first free practice session. A new rule introduced for 2022 states that each team must replace each of its drivers at least once in free practice, with a young driver who has previously taken part in no more than two Grands Prix. Robert Shwartzman has progressed though the Ferrari Driver Academy and during 2022 he has been working as the Italian side’s Test Driver. This will be the Israeli’s debut in an official Formula 1 session and also his first time at the wheel of an F1-75 sporting number 39.
Hear from Ferrari test driver Robert Shwartzman as he reflects on his work in 2022, ahead of his official F1 session debut in Austin at COTA:
Can you talk us through the roots of your passion for motorsport. Where does it come from and how did you come to be at Ferrari?
Robert Shwartzman: “I have been a fan of racing and cars in general from a very early age. When my father realised how much I loved it he had me try karting at four years old. It was love at first sight. I then started participating in competitions when I was six and moved to Italy which is home to the most important worldwide karting competitions. From the age of nine I basically grew up and went to school there so I could continue racing. At the end of 2017 I was contacted by Ferrari and in 2018 I joined the Ferrari Driver Academy. As part of the Maranello young driver programme, I raced in Formula 3 and Formula 2 and at the end of last year I was appointed test driver for the Scuderia”.
For the first time in 46 years the Scuderia will run three drivers on a race weekend. What work have you done this year? How does it feel to be driving in an official F1 session for the very first time?
Robert Shwartzman: “2022 has been a very different year for me as it was planned that I would not race in any championships. Instead, I am working full-time for the Scuderia, doing a lot of work in the simulator and I am very happy to have been part of this year’s team effort. The experience I have gained this year has taught me a lot, and helped me become a more complete racing driver. Debuting in an official F1 session with Scuderia Ferrari is first of all a great honour and to be the first driver to have this opportunity after so many years makes what I will do on Friday really special. I am obviously thrilled but at the same time I am also very keen to drive this car for the first time and see how close the work we’ve been doing in the simulator is to reality”.
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What’s your impression of the COTA track and how have you prepared for a circuit that you have never actually driven?
Robert Shwartzman: “The COTA track is a very interesting and quite challenging. I have never driven on this track so this will be my first time there. I have prepared for it mainly on the simulator and I am really looking forward to driving on it for real”.
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