Ferrari will hand their test driver Robert Shwartzman his Formula 1 race weekend debut at the United States Grand Prix.
A new rule for 2022 dictated that teams must use two practice sessions across the season for a ‘rookie’ driver, with Ferrari yet to make any inroads on satisfying that ruling.
But we will see some movement on that front at the Circuit of The Americas, as Shwartzman gets behind the wheel of the Ferrari F1-75 during FP1.
Although the 22-year-old Shwartzman had previously been racing under the Russian flag, the Tel-Aviv-born racer switched to an Israeli licence, clearing him to compete in Formula 1 grand prix weekends.
It has not been announced yet by Ferrari whether it will be Charles Leclerc or Carlos Sainz who Shwartzman replaces for that session.
Shwartzman is not the only academy driver to be confirmed for an FP1 opportunity at Austin, with Williams also set to field their junior racer Logan Sargeant, in what will be his home race.
Asked by Auto Hebdo if he feels ready to make his free practice debut, Shwartzman said: “It’s always a pleasure to drive an F1 car!
“The last time was in July at Mugello. The test went well and we did a lot of aero testing to improve the car and try out different settings. The team was happy with my performance and consistency. Yes, I think I am ready for the free practice!
“I worked a lot this year, especially in the simulator, as I did all the development work on the new car. So I hope to find the same sensations as in the simulator when I drive the 2022 car in FP1.”
Shwartzman put together an impressive junior racing career, having been a part of the Ferrari Driver Academy since 2017.
He would claim the Formula 3 title with Prema back in 2019, before finishing P4 and runner-up with the same team in Formula 2 over the following two seasons, finishing behind only champion and Prema team-mate Oscar Piastri in the 2021 standings.
Could Robert Shwartzman be on the 2023 Formula 1 grid?
Although options would be limited, Ferrari do have one particular engine supply deal which could potentially open the door for Shwartzman, that being with Haas.
The Israeli racer has been linked with Haas in the past, and with his fellow Ferrari Driver Academy racer Mick Schumacher now facing an uncertain future, Shwartzman could be on their radar.
Especially as the team is looking at every driver with a superlicence, according to principal Guenther Steiner.
Nico Hulkenberg and Antonio Giovinazzi, the latter also linked to Ferrari, appear to be the leading contenders to join the team for 2023, but this is where Shwartzman’s FP1 outing at Austin comes into play, as a strong showing there would put his name firmly into the conversation.