Carlos Sainz says he will “never forget” his first test for his new Ferrari team on Wednesday.
The Spaniard, who moved from McLaren as a replacement for four-time champion Sebastian Vettel, did more than 100 laps at the team’s Fiorano track.
Sainz, at the wheel of the team’s 2018 car because of Formula 1’s rules restricting testing, said he was “very pleased with how the day unfolded”.
The test was to help Sainz get familiar the team and car’s operations.
The 2018 car contains many of the same technical procedures and systems as the latest car will, and Sainz was able to begin working with the engineers who will support him this season.
“The alarm went off at dawn because we had some very early meetings before going out on track,” the 26-year-old said.
“One of the most special moments for me was when I arrived at the circuit and I saw the Ferrari with my number 55 on it!
“I was eager to jump in the car and that first installation lap was exciting.”
Sainz’s father, the two-time world rally champion of the same name, was in attendance at the test to watch his son.
Sainz will drive the car again on Thursday morning before Mick Schumacher, a Ferrari academy driver who is making his F1 debut for the affiliated Haas team this year, takes over in the afternoon.
Leclerc ‘getting back in the rhythm’
Sainz’s team-mate Charles Leclerc, who has recovered after catching coronavirus this month, drove the car on Tuesday as part of his preparation work for his third season with the team.
Pre-season testing in March has been limited to just three days – which gives each driver just one and a half days in their cars before the first race – and Leclerc said familiarising himself with the team had been a helpful exercise.
“It is very useful just to get back in the rhythm with procedures that are more or less the same,” Leclerc said. “We changed a few things but overall it is very similar.”
Ferrari had their worst season for 30 years in 2020 but team boss Mattia Binotto said before Christmas he expected them to improve in 2021 – setting the team the target of finishing in the top three in the constructors’ championship.
Pre-season testing is in Bahrain from 12-14 March before the season starts at the same track on 26-28 March.
The Australian Grand Prix, originally planned as the opening race on 21 March, has been postponed until November.
F1 says it is still hopeful of running its full 23-race season this year but new president Stefano Domenicali admitted last week that the sport would have to be “flexible” as a result of the pandemic.