Robert Shwartzman ready for WEC after testing Ferrari 499P in Bahrain

Robert Shwartzman ready for WEC after testing Ferrari 499P in Bahrain

Robert Shwartzman feels fully ready to compete in the FIA World Endurance Championship in the Ferrari 499P after leading the car to the fastest lap in the Bahrain rookie test held last weekend.

Robert Shwartzman emerged on top in the one-day official Rookie Test for the FIA World Endurance Championship(WEC) post-season, clocking the fastest time in the second part of the two sessions that were conducted that day.

The Ferrari Formula 1 reserve driver led the overall leaderboard at Bahrain International Circuit with a time of 1:48.559, and he was impressed with his performance.

After learning the basics of sports car racing, Shwartzman feels no need to return despite making his debut in the sport with AF Corse in this year’s Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup, where he won the final race.

Shwartzman made his driving debut in the Ferrari 499P during the Bahrain post-season test, where he shared driving duties with regular driver Alessandro Pier Guidi and Ferrari’s first female works driver, Lilou Wadoux, who competed in the GTE Am class this season for Richard Mille AF Corse.

He stated that he hopes to advance into a full-time WEC seat next season, though a program has not yet been confirmed.

“My aim next year is to do something different,” Shwartzman said in an interview after his test in Bahrain. “Even now in the test, I think I’ve shown enough that I’m fully ready for that car.

“I have zero doubt about it. I am generally very quick to adapt to anything, like when I did the IndyCar test I was straight on the moment.

“With FE also when we did the Berlin test, I was very good there. So for me, it doesn’t require much time. I’m a very quick learner and I’m proud of it.

“I did a season in GT3 and got a feel for endurance and know more or less how things work. I don’t need another year; I don’t see anything that I will learn more than I have already now.

“My ambition and target is to obviously step up next year.”

Shwartzman will continue to be Ferrari’s F1 test and reserve driver, so his availability for a first season in the WEC will rely on his schedule.

Ferrari recently said that it would be prepared to back a third Hypercar in the WEC, though it is understood that this would require a customer effort in accordance with the regulations of the competition.

“I don’t know about the third car, will they do it or will they not? If they do then I really hope they will consider me,” said Shwartzman. “But I generally hope that, especially after this test, I have shown what I am [and] that I’m ready and that I am quick to learn anything. That they are going to be interested.

“I’m not saying that I’m leaving GT3 racing. I’m just saying that I want more. I don’t want to stop – we still need to speak and discuss – but we [will] see how much time I have.

“I’m also a reserve driver in F1 and it requires quite a bit of time. So we need to look at the calendar and if we’re going to squeeze anything in.”

In order to get ready for the Bahrain test, Shwartzman spent thirty minutes in Ferrari’s LMH simulator. After arriving from Sao Paulo, where he was on F1 reserve duty, he only slept for three hours before taking the rookie test.

The 24-year-old has been maintaining a busy schedule lately, having participated in the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship pre-season test in Valencia the weekend before and attending the Mexico City Grand Prix the weekend after that.

“Performance and feeling wise it was very good,” he said of the Hypercar test session. “It was 30 laps, but in this short amount of time I managed to straight away get along with the car.

“I think we’re quite good friends now.”

Ferrari gave Shwartzman a variety of tire settings to try despite his limited seat time.

“The target was for me to get along with the car and see how quickly I can adapt,” he said. “The speed was very quick and they wanted just to show me different stages of grip this car can give.

“So the late race when you have completely killed tires, mid-stint, beginning of the race and quali, which was on new mediums.

“On all of the four runs we did, I had a taste of each [type of] running. All of them felt pretty good and quite manageable from my side.”

Formula 2 driver Clement Novalak was fastest among LMP2 cars after he took over the Inter Europol Competition Oreca, which won the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Team WRT’s GT3 regular Charles Weerts, who was racing a prototype for the first time, finished in second place just 0.019 seconds slower than the class record,.

MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi who is now a sportscar racer experienced his first run in LMP2 equipment and finished eight tenths behind teammate Weerts.

Lorenzo Patrese recorded the fastest time in a GT car while running the #83 Richard Mille AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE Evo.

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