Carlos Sainz Jr. made his first appearance in Ferrari colours on Wednesday (January 27) since replacing Sebastian Vettel for 2021 campaign.
The Spaniard racked up more than a hundred laps over the day and a half at their Fiorano test track, driving the SF71H, the 2018 car, while he got to grips with the car procedures and machinery.
Sainz called it a ‘special moment’ seeing the SF71H car with his usual F1 number 55 once he arrived at the track.
He 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!”
The 26-year-old signed for Ferrari in May before the delayed 2020 season got underway after the Italian racing team opted against extending Vettel’s contract.
Sainz went on to endure a fantastic final season at McLaren in 2020, finishing sixth in the drivers’ championship and helped the British-based team to third place in the constructor standings – 71 points ahead of Ferrari.
He added: “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 there at such an important moment in my career. I am very happy and could not have wished for a better start.”
Sainz becomes the fifth Spaniard to be part of Scuderia, most recently, Fernando Alonso who raced five seasons at Ferrari, winning 11 Grand Prix’s in that time. Long before that was Marquis Alfonso de Portago, who competed in five GPs for the Italian team in the 1956 season, while there have also been two test drivers: Pedro de la Rose and Marc Gene.
Charles Leclerc was also in attendance to see his new team-mate after the 23-year-old was on track in the SF71H on Tuesday (January 26).
Sainz, and his team-mate Leclerc, will drive this year’s car SF21 for the first time at the pre-season test in Bahrain which is set to take place during the second week in March.