Shwartzman to make F1 practice debut for Ferrari in Austin

2022 F1 season

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Ferrari has confirmed its junior driver Robert Shwartzman will make his debut in a official Formula 1 practice session at the United States Grand Prix next month.

Shwartzman, who finished runner-up to team mate Oscar Piastri in Formula 2 last year, competed under a Russian racing licence during his rise through the junior ranks. However he will make his F1 debut under a Israeli licence.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, the FIA introduced new rules requiring Russia and Belarusian drivers to participate as neutral competitors. Formula 3 driver Alexander Smolyar, who like Shwartzman raced under a Russian licence prior to 2022, contested this year’s championship as a neutral.

Shwartzman will switch to using an Israeli licence, as Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto previously confirmed.

The 22-year-old won the Formula 3 championship for Prema in 2019. He is Ferrari’s preference for both of the two mandatory junior driver appearances in practice sessions which were introduced this year. Binotto indicated last weekend Shwartzman will likely reappear for the team at the final race weekend of the year in Abu Dhabi.

Shwartzman has tested for the team on several occasions this year in its 2021 car and Binotto says he is especially strong in F1 machinery.

“Robert is a fantastic driver,” he said Binotto. “I think he’s very fast, especially in an F1 [car].

“Whenever he drove an F1 [car] he has been very fast. There are drivers that maybe are great in F3, F2 and then are not good enough in the F1. I think Robert is one of the opposites. He has been great certainly in F3, F2 but he’s very, very strong in F1.

“So it’s a shame for him not having any seat at the moment. This season he has worked a lot at the simulator. He has worked a lot helping our team in developing the current car. I think as a driver he has improved he has developed his own skills and today he’s a lot more mature, even to a year ago.

“So I think he’s a driver that would deserve a seat. We know it’s very difficult right now in this situation, but hopefully in the future that may happen.”

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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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9 comments on “Shwartzman to make F1 practice debut for Ferrari in Austin”

  1. Russian, no place in any sport.

    1. Andy! Dance harder – maybe your hate will leave your dim bulb brain then.

    2. Perhaps it’s part of a broader initiative by Ferrari to pay more attention to legal nationalities rather than practical ones.

      Should they win another race they might even properly play the Wilhelmus given that they are now not so much Italian but rather a Dutch company.

  2. Let’s ignore nationalities as I’m more interested in the racing. He’s been on the radar for a while now so I’m left wondering why he hasn’t been picked up by Alfa or Haas if he’s that good in a F1 car… Maybe they have no mega-bucks backing apart from the driver academies.

    1. Yeah , i wonder why he isn’t in line for HAAS, i think Alfa is in a limbo so that will have to wait.

  3. Israeli? Has he got some roots from there?

    1. Clue’s in the last name :)

    2. @qeki According to Wikipedia (which I’m aware may not always be 100% correct, although this does have citations going back to 2018, long before the Russian invasion), he was born in Tel Aviv, and then later raised in Saint Petersburg.

    3. He was born in 1999 in Israel.

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