Ferrari hands Shwartzman two Friday practice runs

Robert Shwartzman (RUS) Ferrari Academy Driver. 11.12.2020. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 17, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
© XPB 

Ferrari test driver Robert Shwartzman is set to make his Formula 1 Grand Prix weekend debut in 2022 after the team confirmed that he would be handed two Friday free practice slots during the season.

The 22-year-old Russian has been a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy since 2017 and last year finished as runner-up in his second season driving in the Formula 2 championship, with two race victories and eight podium finishes.

His Prema team mate Oscar Piastri took the title, and has been appointed reserve driver for the Alpine F1 team, but doesn't yet know if he will get the same opportunity as Shwartzman to actually take this year's F1 car out on track for a practice session.

Ferrari have never put a junior driver in one of their cars at a race weekend for FP1 since the rules first permitted teams to do so.

But a change to the regulations for 2022 mean that all teams must now field a driver with minimal F1 racing experience in at least two Friday sessions during the season.

Although he's yet to take part in a GP weekend, Shwartzman has tested for Ferrari on several occasions, including the post-season test at Abu Dhabi in 2021 where he covered the equivalent of two Grands Prix in the course of one one day.

He was on driving duty again at the Yas Marina Circuit last December, completing one day for Ferrari and a second for Haas. And earlier this month, Shwartzman completed two days of private running with Ferrari at the team’s Fiorano test track.

Its's not yet known at which weekends he will get to drive the F1-75, but an appearance on track at his home event in Russia in September would look like a firm favourite.

As for the rest of his year, Shwartzman is yet to announce his racing plans for 2022. It's unlikely to be a third stint in F2, with Dennis Hauger and Jehan Daruvala already confirmed at Prema.

The only team yet to confirm a full slate of drivers for the forthcoming season iis Trident, which finished in ninth place in last year's teams championship.

But there's little prospect of Shwartzman being called up for full F1 race duty by Ferrari even if either Charles Leclerc or Carlos Sainz are sidelined for any reason.

While Shwartzman is the team's official test driver, the scuderia has nominated current Haas contender Mick Schumacher and former Alfa Romeo driver Antonio Giovinazzi as its race reserves for the season.

Giovinazzi is now racing in Formula E having lost his seat to Chinese star Guanyu Zhou, who finished third for UNI-Virtuosi behind Shwartzman and Piastri in last year's F2 standings.

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