Five Ferrari juniors to join Sainz and Leclerc at Fiorano test

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In the round-up: Carlos Sainz Jnr will have his first run in a Ferrari this week, while five of the team’s junior drivers will also have a chance to test an F1 car.

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Seven drivers confirmed for Ferrari test

As revealed on RaceFans last week, Ferrari will run a 2018 chassis at Fiorano this week to give Sainz his first outing in one of their cars. Sainz will drive on Wednesday and Thursday.

The team will also use the opportunity to give his team mate Charles Leclerc some extra pre-season seat time on Tuesday, and extend a testing opportunity to five of its junior drivers.

Two Ferrari Driver Academy members, Giuliano Alesi and Marcus Armstrong, will have their first taste of F1 machinery. The pair will drive on Monday and share the car with a third FDA member, Robert Shwartzman.

Mick Schumacher, who will make his F1 debut for Haas this year, will have his latest Ferrari test on Thursday. Callum Ilott is to drive the car on Friday.

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Comment of the day

This weekend’s debate is on which team has the best driver line-up for the 2021 F1 season:

I’m going to argue Ferrari. Why? Because although I rate Hamilton and Verstappen as the two best drivers, fairly easily so, their team mates are both average and, well, dull.

Leclerc is a top driver (albeit a notch down on Hamilton and Verstappen) but Sainz, I think, is a more interesting driver than Bottas or Perez and could/should make a more competitive team mate, willing to push Leclerc.

Bottas, we know the story already. Perez? Sorry, but arriving in the team and already expressing how difficult it will be to challenge Verstappen is a sign that it’s all over already. Hamilton and Russell at Mercedes, now that would be good.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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34 comments on “Five Ferrari juniors to join Sainz and Leclerc at Fiorano test”

  1. I think the COTD is being too easily influenced by hype and storylines and letting that get in the way of evaluating driver performance.

    Objectively — by both the eye test and teammate A>B>C comparisons — there’s nothing to suggest Leclerc lags behind the other two in pure pace (racecraft is another story), and also nothing to suggest Sainz is quicker than Bottas (who in turn is likely quicker than Perez).

    1. Wouldn’t agree more. The gap between Leclerc and Sainz will be similar to the gap betweeb Hamilton and Bottas (if not bigger)

      1. @paeschli Sainz might be closer to Leclerc than people think or assume beforehand. We shall wait and see.

    2. @exediron @paeschli +1

      I don’t either get the hype for Sainz, but maybe some has swallowed what he’s been serving them himself..

      1. They are mistaking him getting a chance with the reality of him being the new Barichello/Massa/etc.. the wing man. He is finished after this

    3. I agree that the hype sneaked into the cotder’s evaluation, although more so in the last sentence.

      Russell is undoubtedly a huge talent but didn’t seem that special the other 16 races (in physical cars).
      IMO he is not the driver yet who will make a 2021 pairing great.
      That, or the ranking massively underrated Latifi in 20th.

    4. I’ve red a lot of clever choices on drivers paring but this one is foolish.

    5. I think both Sainz and Perez are similar styled drivers, not spectacular like Hamilton or Perez but after 40 laps you look at the leaderboard and go “where did they come from?”. Consistently relentless.

      1. **The first Perez should be Verstappen

        1. **** No make that the second Perez. I’ll just leave now. Thanks. Bye.

        2. And I thought it was the 2nd Perez that should be Verstappen. @millionus

    6. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      24th January 2021, 10:02

      The other thing I don’t quite get is all the hype for Russell basing it on one race of the simplest layout of the season. Many seem to have come to the conclusion that he must be great in a top team over the whole season. It was one race against Bottas that people rightly said was a bad one for Bottas. Bottas on form them beat hamilton the following race. Should we use that to confirm bottas is better than Hamilton? Don’t think it works that way. If so, it shouldn’t be taken as that strong evidence. People also said that it was an all new environment for Russell. It was sudden and unexpected, but it’s not like he hasn’t been involved at mercedes before he joined williams, so he will have known quite a bit about the team.

      It surprised me how quickly he got up to speed which certainly showed potential, but Bottas did look quicker in the 2nd stint which many forget and that was in a race that was considered terrible. When Bottas is comfortable, I think russell will need to improve a bit more overall. So many are implying Russell vs Hamilton will instantly be a better line up than Bottas VS hamilton. in time, It likely will be stronger but I doubt it will initially in the first season. Russell has one big weakness that people seem to be having a go at bottas for despite him having many more. Many bad starts. Nearly a third of Russell’s starts have resulted in his excellent qualifying not really being worth it. I don’t think the Williams is anything to do with this as his team mates rarely seemed to have this problem. But unless he sorts it out, it will cost him much more at a top team, like it has with Bottas when he had his poor starts.

      Still think Russell needs to more time to show his skills at williams which is starting to mix with other teams now rather than getting what many want and replacing Bottas already. He made one mistake bigger than any Bottas did last season which also seems to be forgotten by many because of his one off drive for Mercedes.

      I seem very harsh against him, but I honestly think too many are desperate for someone to be closer to Hamilton when it isn’t totally evident that Russell instantly will be and in reality, mercedes will be happy with the current line up they have.

      1. GtisBetter (@)
        24th January 2021, 13:25

        Russel and others like Leclerc and Norris already proven themselves in junior categories. Nobody has any doubt that they are massively talented and have tremendous pace. The race at Mercedes confirmed what many suspected, it’s not based on a single race.

        1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
          24th January 2021, 15:35

          I am aware he did very well before F1, but one think I don’t really get is all this qualifying praise if he undoes his work on lap one. 11 out of 19 times him and Kubica both started on the grid, Kubica was ahead by the end of the first few corners. My main point being that Williams masked how bad his starts so often were as he didn’t have much to lose. At a top team, he really will need to work on this.

      2. @thegianthogweed I would agree with you that there does seem to be an element of Bottas being treated a bit more harshly by fans because they want somebody to beat Hamilton, and thus there is a sense of frustration when he doesn’t do that.

        In Russell, there is a tendency to see him as the next “great white hope” and a fervent belief, or often an automatic assumption, that he will be a great driver. I would be inclined to agree with you that he is a driver with interesting prospects, but at the same time that there are areas of his performance that we haven’t yet seen being fully tested.

        As you note, his race starts and first lap performance is something that he could work on, given his average position gain or loss on the first lap this season was zero – whilst it does have the positive side that it means he wasn’t losing positions on average, he wasn’t gaining any positions either.

        Now, it is true that there is only so much that could be done with the car, but at the same time that is an area where he could develop further – it would be a bit analogous to Norris who, being a similarly inexperienced driver, has been a little more cautious on the opening lap than some and would sometimes cost himself places through that, but he has been working on those tendencies.

        I do also agree that it will be interesting to see, if Williams are more competitive on pace and able to fight in the midfield pack more regularly, how Russell responds to that changed environment and more on-track scraps.

        1. given his average position gain or loss on the first lap this season was zero – whilst it does have the positive side that it means he wasn’t losing positions on average, he wasn’t gaining any positions either.

          And even that is a bit flattering as the gains (or reduced losses) that got him to the ‘net zero’ included many instances where drivers ahead did not make it through the first lap, or had to pit at the end of it.
          In other words, he might have a ‘net zero’ in positions, but he was still closer to the tail on average after his first lap.

        2. anon and @coldfly
          Arguably Russell was qualifying further up the grid on his own speed but the car just didn’t have the race performance to keep him there. In terms of bad starts, who knows, it’s not as though Hamilton himself hasn’t had a fair share over the years. Often these are put down to car issues rather than the driver, but I guess people pick and choose what suits their argument. The one time Russell was in a Mercedes, he had a great start, better than Bottas, and with none of Bottas’s clumsy opening lap(s) in general.
          Is he over-hyped still? I don’t think so. He’s always looked a better driver to me than Norris, Albon, even Leclerc and seems to be rated as highly by his peers. Still maybe you’re right. But we won’t know until he gets a much better car to drive (again).

          1. I guess people pick and choose what suits their argument. The one time Russell was in a Mercedes, he had a great start

            There you go @david-br, proving your own guess right ;)

            Don’t get me wrong (and just read my comments to see proof), I rate Russell and think he’s a great talent.

            I just don’t his 2020 season not as that spectacular. He’s special on Saturdays (and in virtual racing), but he does not know yet how to string together a great Sunday (his Mercedes drive was an exception). On Sundays he didn’t leave a gap to rookie Latifi, like Verstappen to Albon, or Hamilton (in most weekends) to Bottas. Even Gasly and oftentimes Leclerc were able to differentiate more to their teammates.
            I’m convinced though this will come with time and experience. And I hope he can jump in the Mercedes soon to grow further.

        3. @anon:

          In Russell, there is a tendency to see him as the next “great white hope”

          What the h**! is that supposed to mean?! Saying the ‘tendency’ when viewing Russell is the racist wish he dethrone the black man is way over the line, but then pulling the racist card on supporters of your man’s challengers is all too typical of Hamilton fans.

      3. The simplest layout of the season applies also to Bottas. I don’t think that there is a lot of hype surrounding Russel. It’s the general understanding that he is just better than Bottas who has been underperforming badly even by his own standard and that was proven in Sakhir.

        That doesn’t mean he will be a match for Hamilton, that’s a total different story but he will sure give him a tougher challenge over a season than Bottas ever did. Moreover, Russel jumped in a car for the first time with no testing nor simulator running and barely fit in its cockpit wearing smaller shoes.

        Bottas on form them beat hamilton the following race

        Hamilton wasn’t a 100% on form and was still recovering from Covid-19 in Abu Dhabi.

    7. @exediron (+ everyone else)

      I actually made three separate comments on the thread in question, each highlighting different pairings based on slightly different interpretations of what ‘best’ implies in ‘best pairing.’ In purely objective terms, based on the likelihood of their car still being dominant, Mercedes probably have the ‘best’ pairing in terms of attaining their objectives (winning everything) with Hamilton and Bottas in a definite 1-2 order. Red Bull, perhaps the same, depending on how close Perez is (likely closer to Verstappen than Gasly and Albon but not close enough to trouble Max much). Both pairings are ‘compatible’ and more than likely optimize team objectives. But neither pairing is likely to be ‘best’ in terms of positive competition between drivers, where each pushes the other to perform better. Leclerc and Sainz on the other hand could be a much closer rivalry than people imagine (including myself in the past). I’m not sure why you think I’m following hype here: Sainz has hardly been hyped much, and Leclerc in my view was overhyped last year on the basis of a few outstanding performances, mostly in qualifying, but otherwise a (for him) average season. But if the Ferrari engine power improves, I can see both being competitive in races (while Bottas and Perez are set to be consigned to slow and steady progress behind their team mates) and their dynamic helping Ferrari rather than hindering or contributing little. So I stick by my choice.

      ‘Best’ pairing in terms of some interesting rivalry on track for us to watch is another dimension: aside from Leclerc v. Sainz, I’m looking forward to Ricciado v. Norris, Alonso v. Ocon and Gasly v, Tsunoda. Those rivalries will answer a lot of questions about their respective drivers.

      Thanks for COTD Keith :o)

  2. Maybe someday. A series called FE1 or F1E.

    Re COTD: Perez beating or matching his teammate is secondary. What matters more is that he stays in the mix regularly so that the team has both drivers against Mercedes as one against two limits strategic options. Sainz should at least be more consistent and closer to Leclerc than Vettel last season.

  3. Wasn’t Alesi dropped by Ferrari last season?

    1. @aiii Not to my knowledge.

      1. Guess I just assumed it was the case when Alesi sold his F40 to fund his kid’s seat last year.

    2. That was 1996.

    3. End of F1 dream for Giuliano Alesi: dismissed from Ferrari Academy

  4. Re F1/FE: I don’t think a merger will ever happen. I think FE will be bigger or both will be “rivals”.

    1. It seems they missed out on the opportunity to merge when it was still possible. With todays commercialism sometimes being a bigger motivation for all parties involved rather than sportive achievement, I dont see stakeholders giving up on having 2 events (they can sell) rather than 1. What could happen is that F1 will cease to exist in say 10 years as it slowly becomes some nostalgic event like running steam trains against eachother

      1. Yes, I’m sure the sport that can’t even get their projects on TV in even the biggest motorsports market after Channel 4 dropped it so BBC could pick it up and put it behind the “red button” is going to be around in 10 years while the archaic “steam engined” F1 dies out. Especially with the factory teams already dropping out of FE after a couple of years. That’s definitely the most likely scenario here.

        The only “merger” scenario Agag is counting on is FOM buying him out for a nice sum to get the electric license. Probably his intention from the start.

        1. @aiii whilst Audi and BMW have withdrawn, that does still leave six manufacturers in Formula E. In terms of diversity of manufacturers and number of teams, there would be a lot of series right now which would love to have the problem of “only” having six manufacturers racing in their series and having been at their cap on the maximum number of teams until now.

          It is also worth noting that Hyundai have been showing interest in Formula E, and there has been speculation that, now that the pull out by Audi and BMW has created slots for new entrants, they could possibly join the series. They are already working on a electric touring car, where they’ve formed a partnership with Williams Advanced Engineering to use components that they supply to the Formula E series on their touring car (mainly the battery systems) – a step from that to Formula E might not be all that difficult, and it would fit with the strategy Hyundai has been pursuing in recent years.

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