Giuliano Alesi has thanked Ferrari for giving him the opportunity to test its F1 car at Fiorano, 30 years on from his father Jean completing his first laps with the iconic team.

The Frenchman, together with Formula 2 counterparts and fellow Ferrari Driver Academy members Marcus Armstrong and Robert Shwartzman, took to the wheel of the 2018-spec SF71H at Fiorano as part of an outing that will see seven Ferrari-associated drivers get in some pre-season mileage over the next few days.

Kicking off proceedings on Monday was Alesi and Armstrong, both driving a Ferrari F1 car for the first time, while Shwartzman was getting his second outing with the team after driving in the post-season rookie test.

For Alesi the opportunity was particularly poignant given his father Jean - who was present at the test to watch him - competed with the team between 1991 and 1995

“I’d like to thank Ferrari and the FDA for this fantastic opportunity today. To be able to get in the cockpit of the SF71H was incredibly exciting as was driving the car on track with my father watching and sporting the same race number he used. In terms of handling, the car is not too difficult to drive, but the power was surprising and never seems to end. 

“The immediacy and efficiency of the braking is also impressive. This test was the best way possible for me to bid farewell to Ferrari. Now a new adventure awaits me in Asia and I can’t wait for it to start.” 

A first outing too for Armstrong, he became the first Kiwi since Chris Amon to sport the Ferrari colours.

“Obviously this was a special day in my life and it went exactly as I would have expected. That didn’t mean I enjoyed it any the less! Being at the wheel of a Formula 1 car for the first time is always something magical and when the car is a Ferrari, then it’s really unforgettable. 

“People always say it’s the braking that is the most impressive aspect and that was the case, but also the aerodynamic downforce, the speed in the corners, the steering, the power and the perfect gear changes are all on a different planet compared to the other racing categories. 

“I’d like to thank Ferrari and the FDA for making this day possible and I can’t wait to jump back in a Formula 1 car again in the future.”

Meanwhile, Shwartzman - who impressed in his first season of F2 with Prema Racing - made the most of his second chance to demonstrate why he is regarded as one of motorsport’s rising talents.

“Driving a Ferrari Formula 1 car is always a privilege and I must admit that I was beginning to miss that feeling: today, along with the team, we worked on a programme aimed at improving my ability to provide feedback to the engineers and I hope I did a good job of doing what I was asked. 

“As for myself, this was the best possible way to get back to driving in the new year. I soon felt comfortable in the car and with the team as it’s not even been a month since the last time and the feeling was good for all the laps I did. 

“Now it’s time for me to focus on the Formula 2 championship with the Prema team, but I hope that I’ll get another opportunity to sit in a Ferrari again as soon as possible.”

The test continues on Tuesday with Charles Leclerc getting behind the wheel, while new signing Carlos Sainz will turn his first laps as a Ferrari driver later in the week.