Formula 2: good testing start for Armstrong and Shwartzman

Maranello 11 March 2021

Testing at Sakhir circuit provided encouraging signs for the start of the F2 season for the two Ferrari Driver Academy drivers. Marcus Armstrong rapidly integrated into his new team, while he and Robert Shwartzman got to grips with the new 2021 spec tyres.

The three days of pre-season testing took place at the same Sakhir track that hosts the opening round of the Formula 2 season over the weekend of the 28 March. It was a busy time on track, with Marcus Armstrong and Robert Shwartzman both getting through all the work planned by their respective engineers. Track conditions were very different to when the 2020 season ended here three months ago and times on the first day were slow as the surface was not rubbered in. The third and final day was affected by strong winds but the work went ahead as planned.

Qualifying. This was Armstrong’s first time working with the DAMS team and the 20 year old New Zealander’s second year in this category got off to a strong start, looking particularly effective in qualifying simulations. He was third fastest on the second day and quickest on the third. Marcus completed 200 laps of the track, which is very encouraging.

Confidence. “It was a very intensive test,” commented Marcus. “It’s great to be in a team with people who want to win as much as I do. Even without considering the times, I’m happy with what we did, although we know things will be different on race weekends. My experience from last year has taught me that it takes very little to change the pecking order, but we look in good shape in all situations. In qualifying, we’ll have to adapt to the grip level on track which will be different every time, while we will face a new situation in the races as there’s a bigger difference between the Option and Prime tyres. I think it will be interesting and this test was a great help in getting a better understanding of the two compounds.”

Robert. Shwartzman also had plenty of track time, the 20 year old Russian completing 158 laps. He posted very competitive times over the long runs, proving he quickly got a good understanding of the new specification Pirelli tyres.

Energy. “Overall, the test went pretty well,” commented Robert. “My performance in qualifying runs wasn’t bad, the potential is there but we still have to improve in a few areas. I am pleased with my performance on the race simulations, although the new hard tyres are much more complicated to use than the previous generation, as they have less grip, so it’s harder to control when they start to degrade. I think we got close to our limit and we know what we need to do to the package, so I can’t wait for the first race weekend. I’m ready with fresh positive energy to try and be a front runner right from the start.”

Not long now. The countdown has begun and there is now just a fortnight to go until the first round of the season.

  Team Day 1 Day 2 Day 3
Marcus Armstrong DAMS 1’44”331 (47 laps) 1’42”038 (70) 1’42”173 (83)
Robert Shwartzman Prema 1’44”678 (25 laps) 1’42”257 (60) 1’42”359 (73)