Carlos Sainz reflects on his debut in Ferrari machinery

Carlos Sainz made his first appearance for Ferrari today, driving the SF71H at their Fiorano test track.

Sainz drove Ferrari’s 2018 car and racked up over a century of laps, whilst getting to grips with the new machinery and procedures.

On Tuesday Charles Leclerc took the wheel, also clocking over 100 laps, while Mick Schumacher and Callum Ilott will get experience in the car on Thursday and Friday respectively.

Sainz said: “A day I will never forget! 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!”

“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.”

The Spaniard’s move to Ferrari was announced in May before the 2020 F1 season had even got underway, but Sainz backed up a strong debut year with McLaren to finish sixth, and help the team to third pace in the constructor’s championship – their best since 2012.

He’s set for at least a two-year stint at Maranello, but it could be considered a step down as Ferrari finished 71 points behind McLaren.

He added: “It was very nice to have my father there at such an important moment in my career.  I am very happy and could not have wished for a better start.”

Yesterday Charles Leclerc took the wheel of the SF71H, starting the new season just six weeks after finishing the old one Abu Dhabi.

The Monegasque worked on practice starts among other things, and said it was a useful day despite the old machinery – which the team used in Leclerc’s debut F1 season with Sauber.

He said: “The day was simply perfect and we got through all the work we had planned to do. I really enjoyed myself!”

“It’s only been 44 days but it felt like a long time, but it’s always especially here at Fiorano which we see a lot through the year but don’t get to drive very often.”

As Sainz had his first experience of Ferrari, Leclerc also reminisced on his first taste of Scuderia machinery: “I remember very well, I can remember how emotional it was. I was in the Ferrari Driver Academy and it was a very special day.”

He added: “He didn’t ask any advice, but if he is a Scuderia Ferrari driver he knows what he’s doing!”