With many teams using the second US-based Grand Prix of the season as the perfect opportunity to use up their required young driver test sessions, Ferrari elected to put Russian Robert Shwartzman into Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari for FP1.
The Russian finished the session 16th fastest, however, he will be left wondering if he should have finished higher in the FP1 standings.
Shwartzman was on a fast lap toward the end of the session, when he encountered Max Verstappen going slowly towards turn 20.
Verstappen was on the racing line, forcing the Russian to slow down and abandon the lap, much to the frustration of Shwartzman and Ferrari.
While Verstappen did force the Russian to abandon his lap, not much blame can be attached to the Dutchman.
With turn 20 being the final turn, the Dutchman was likely on the racing line to get a good exit onto the start/finish straight and start a fast lap, putting it down to an unfortunate incident for all involved.
After Nikita Mazepin was removed from his seat before the start of the season it was unclear if Shwartzman would be able to remain Ferrari’s test driver, with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine playing a major role in Haas’ decision to replace their driver.
The FIA declared that Russian drivers may still compete but they must enter as neutrals, rather than Russian competitors, and that they must sign a Driver Commitment, acknowledging that they forfeit their right to participate if they ever express any support for Russia’s actions in Ukraine.
Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto has confirmed that although Shwartzman competed under a Russian licence last year, he is using an alternative licence to be part of the Scuderia this year.
“Robert is born is Israel, he’s got an Israeli passport,” he explained.
“He was in agreement as well with Russian companies, he interrupt any agreement he got with those.
“So at the moment he’s still out test driver, he will remain for that, and if we will have in the future any opportunities to let him driver we will probably let him drive,” Binotto concluded.
It currently looks unlikely that the 23-year-old will have an F1 seat for next season, but he will be hoping that his Ferrari test experience can help him secure a full time role in the future.