Carlos Sainz says he “could not have wished for a better start” to life as a Ferrari Formula 1 driver as he completed an extensive first test for the team at Fiorano on Wednesday.

Sporting his car number 55 and a black and red helmet, Sainz completed more than 100 laps in his first appearance as a Ferrari driver since signing for the Italian outfit in May last year at the team’s private test venue.

It followed Charles Leclerc’s return to action after contracting COVID-19 earlier this year, with the Monegasque driver also turning in a century of laps around Fiorano in the 2018 machine on Tuesday.

A full day of running around the 2.997km track helped Sainz become accustomed to Ferrari’s systems and get up to speed ahead of the new season following his winter switch from McLaren.

"A day I will never forget,” said Sainz. “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 [Carlos Sainz Sr] there at such an important moment in my career. And I’d like to thank Mattia [Binotto], Laurent [Mekies] 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."

It had always been Ferrari’s intention to provide Sainz with some track time in one of its older cars as he looks to familiarise himself with his new crew and team procedures under no restrictions.

The mileage will be particularly valuable for Sainz given that pre-season testing this year has been cut back to just three days of running, meaning that the Spaniard will only get 1.5 days behind the wheel of his new car, the SF21, before the 2021 campaign gets underway.

It marked Sainz’s first on-track outing since his final appearance for McLaren at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in December last year.

He will get back behind the wheel of the SF71H on Thursday, before Haas F1 driver Mick Schumacher and Ferrari test driver Callum Ilott will round out the five-day test at Fiorano on Friday.

 

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