Haas F1 Team development driver Santino Ferrucci took his first laps in a Formula One car Tuesday at England’s Silverstone Circuit.
The 18-year-old from Woodbury, Connecticut, piloted the Haas VF-16 racecar for a total of 55 laps around the 5.891-kilometer (3.660-mile), 18-turn facility, marking the first time an American driver wheeled an American Formula One car since Oct. 9, 1977 when Danny Ongais drove a Penske PC4 in the Canadian Grand Prix at Mosport International Raceway in Bowmanville, Ontario.
Ferrucci accumulated 324.005 kilometers (201.327 miles), surpassing the 300-kilometer (187 miles) requirement necessary for obtaining an FIA superlicense. A superlicense is needed to compete in a Formula One race.
Ferrucci’s fastest lap (1:34.866) came on his 32nd tour of the venerable Silverstone Circuit while utilizing a set of Pirelli P Zero White medium tires. It was the seventh-best overall time of the 11 drivers participating in the test.
Ferrucci ran his first 36 laps on mediums before switching to P Zero Orange hard tires. He ran 15 laps on those tires before returning to mediums for a two-lap run prior to the lunch break.
Rain moved in shortly thereafter, delaying Ferrucci’s return. The team installed a sensor rake to the car’s left side, and the sensors are only effective when track conditions are dry. The rain never truly stopped, but it abated enough to attempt a run. Shod on Pirelli Cinturato Green intermediate tires, Ferrucci ran two quasi installation laps before returning to the garage.
With the rain picking up, the team abandoned the sensor rake and, ultimately, the remainder of the session.
McLaren’s Fernando Alonso set the day’s quickest time (1:31.290) and Mercedes’ Esteban Ocon ran the most laps (123).
Formula One rules state that two days of each in-season test must be allocated to young-driver training, which is classified as someone who has competed in two or fewer grands prix. Haas F1 Team drivers Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutiérrez participated in the first open test May 17-18 at Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya, making them ineligible for the Silverstone test.
Ferrucci was named as a development driver for Haas F1 Team in March. He is currently competing in the GP3 Series with DAMS, an accomplished racing team that has helped graduate numerous drivers to the FIA Formula One World Championship, including Grosjean. Ferrucci stormed to a fourth-place finish in his GP3 Series race Sunday at Silverstone after starting 18th.
“It was great to get out in the car this morning, especially to run over 300 kilometers. The Haas VF-16 was a very different experience from my GP3 car, and a lot of fun to drive. Unfortunately, there was a lot of rain in the afternoon. We didn’t really want to run too much in the wet, especially with the aero testing we had planned. Hopefully we’ll get better weather tomorrow and we can achieve all our goals. I’ll spend tonight looking at my driving and I’ll work on gaining even more confidence in the car. We’ll be focusing on the car tomorrow if the engineers are happy with my driving. It was really nice to work with everyone at Haas F1 Team, and now I’m hungry for more.”
Guenther Steiner, Team Principle:
“Santino did a very good job. We’ve all been impressed with his professionalism. He was prepared for the test. He was well set up to be able to handle the car. These cars are very complicated, but he adapted quickly, was reliable and he didn’t put a foot wrong all day. Unfortunately, it rained in the afternoon. We were meant to be doing some aero testing, but there was no point while it was so wet. We only ended up doing a couple of laps as a result. We go again tomorrow and hope that it’s dry so we can let him drive and learn even more.”
Ferrucci returns to the VF-16 on Wednesday for the final day of testing at Silverstone.