At 9.30 the shutters rolled up on the pit garage at the Fiorano track and a minute later Carlos Sainz was out for his first lap at the wheel of a Ferrari Formula 1 car.
Naturally enough, the 26 year-old from Madrid ran his usual F1 number 55 on the SF71H, the 2018 car, as he completed more than a hundred laps on his maiden outing with the Scuderia.
Carlos worked with the engineers he had already met in several meetings held over the past weeks and also got to know the mechanics and the car procedures, many of which will also be relevant to this year’s SF21, which he and Charles Leclerc will drive for the first time at the pre-season test in Bahrain during the second week in March.
Any drivers first test with Ferrari is a big moment, and watching Carlos’ first run from the flyover on the public road to Maranello were a fair few spectators and journalists and in the afternoon, there was even a banner with the words “Vamos Carlos!”. Inside the track, also present were the driver’s father Carlos Sainz Senior, the famous world champion rally driver, team-mate Charles Leclerc, as well as the Head of Ferrari Driver Academy, Marco Matassa who had worked closely with the Spaniard over a three-year period from 2015 to 2017 when they were both at Scuderia Toro Rosso.
Carlos is the fifth Spaniard to be part of the Scuderia. Before him, Fernando Alonso raced for five seasons for the Maranello squad, taking part in 96 Grands Prix, winning 11 and long before that, the Marquis Alfonso de Portago raced in five GPs for Ferrari, his best result being a second place in the 1956 British Grand Prix. There have also been two test drivers: Pedro de la Rosa and Marc Gené, the latter still involved with the Prancing Horse as an ambassador and a tutor for drivers in the exclusive XX Programmes and F1 Clienti.
After watching Carlos do his first few laps, Charles left the track and headed back to the Scuderia’s Vehicle Assembly department for a seat fitting for the 2021 car.
Carlos Sainz #55
“A day I will never forget! This morning, the alarm went off at dawn because we had some very early meetings before going out on track. One of the most special moments for me today 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.“
“Then we got down to work and I am very pleased with how the day unfolded. We were able to get through an extensive programme and I was able to familiarise myself with the whole setup: the engineers and mechanics, the steering wheel, the procedures which are obviously a bit different to those on the car I drove last season.
It was very nice to have my father there at such an important moment in my career. And I’d like to thank Mattia, Laurent and everyone at Ferrari for such a warm welcome and such a positive first day in the 2018 car. I am very happy and could not have wished for a better start.“