A test session for drivers taking part in this year’s FIA Formula 2 championship came to an end today at the Sakhir circuit. It was a busy three days with teams and drivers getting to grips with the new 18 inch Pirelli tyres, the standout new feature which thus has a one year lead, in this respect, over Formula 1, which will switch to the same size in 2021.
Five challengers. There was a mixed bag of experience levels at the Bahrain test among the five Ferrari Driver Academy (FDA) students taking part in Formula 2 this season. Robert Shwartzman and Marcus Armstrong are rookies in the category and were thus getting to grips with the cars for the first time in what is a tricky series for newcomers. Mick Schumacher, Giuliano Alesi and Callum Ilott are all embarking on their second season in Formula 2, but only Mick is driving for the same time as last year. Alesi and Ilott were thus using these valuable three days in Bahrain to get to know their crews for the coming year.
Rookies. Overall, the qualifying simulations went well, although on what looked like being the fastest lap on the second day, Shwartzman had to lift off because of a red flag. Armstrong also had a bit of bad luck, as the New Zealander had to park at the side of the track this afternoon, when his car caught fire.
Mick. “I am really happy with the work we have done over these three days,” commented Schumacher, who turned out to be the quickest of the FDA drivers. “Getting an understanding of the new 18 inch tyres was definitely the most important aspect of the test. We got through our programme without any obvious problems and gathered valuable data, which we can now analyse over the next few days. Tyre management is something we still need to work on and I expect to learn more about the new slicks at every race. It was nice to be back in the car after the winter break and the entire team is keen to return to Bahrain in two weeks time for the first round of the 2020 season.”
The weight of experience. As usual, the race simulations demonstrated the importance of experience: Giuliano Alesi especially, completed an impressive mileage on the second and third days, spending a lot of time doing long runs. That is vital work for the season as a whole, as is always the case in Formula 2. Now the teams and drivers have a short break, before returning to the Sakhir Circuit for the first round of the 2020 season.