Robert Shwartzman took substantial pride from his pace compared to Ferrari’s two race drivers in the post-season test at Yas Marina.
Israel-born and licenced Shwartzman has been a development driver for Ferrari this year and fulfilled their FP1 ‘rookie requirement’ when he took part in opening practice at the United States and Abu Dhabi Grands Prix.
The 23-year-old stayed on at Yas Marina for the ‘young driver test’ which ran concurrently with the 2023 tyre test in which Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz carried out Ferrari’s responsibilities.
The trio ended the day as the top three on the leaderboard, Sainz showing the way with a best lap of 1:25.245, 0.138sec ahead of Leclerc. Then came Shwartzman with a very respectable time just 0.017 behind the Monegasque.
With an F1-75 to himself, and trying three different tyre compounds, the 2021 Formula 2 Championship runner-up completed exactly the distance of two Abu Dhabi Grands Prix during the day.
“We finished a very positive test day in Abu Dhabi with 116 laps and a solid amount of work,” said Shwartzman in the Ferrari team’s review of the day’s action.
“The testing programme was quite comprehensive with performance runs, race simulations, tests and practice starts.
“I feel I made a good improvement from Friday’s FP1 and for most of the sessions I was fairly close to Charles and Carlos pace-wise, which is also very positive for me.
“There are always things to improve but I think the potential we showed was very good.
“In general, I am also very happy with the work we did this year with the team back at Maranello on the simulator as the car feels very similar.
“It was great having the chance to drive for the team again and I really enjoyed today.”
After two seasons in Formula 2, when he finished fourth and second respectively behind champions Mick Schumacher and Oscar Piastri, Shwartzman did not race at all in 2022 to serve as Ferrari’s test driver.
He recently said he was losing hope of becoming an F1 racer having missed out on a seat for 2023.
“What will happen [in the future] I don’t know yet, but it’s super-hard and challenging to get into Formula 1,” said Shwartzman.
“I always pushed and worked really hard with the dream, or target, to get to Formula 1.
“Will it happen or not? At this stage, I don’t know. I can guess maybe not.
“That’s obviously very sad for me because it’s been such big work and I kept on pushing and believing, and at the end still it doesn’t happen for various reasons.”