Fred Vasseur, the head of the Ferrari F1 team, has announced that Robert Shwartzman, their reserve and test driver, would take Sainz's spot in the first practice session for the Dutch Grand Prix. Formula One teams are obligated to provide a driver who has not raced in more than two grand prix with two free practice sessions every season, following new regulations established for the 2022 season. This was done to provide more possibilities for reserve and academy drivers to train with actual F1 vehicles. Teams often refuse to make this change early in the season since drivers benefit more from practice time as they get used to the vehicle. Ferrari has not yet completed either of its required rookie sessions. Ferrari team principal Vasseur confirmed that Shwartzman would drive for the team during the first practice session in Zandvoort and again in Abu Dhabi.
F1: Why Shwartzman Replacing Sainz in Zandvoort
Since joining the Ferrari Driver Academy in 2017, Shwartzman has served as the Scuderia's reserve driver. He competed in Formula 2 in 2021, where he finished second behind McLaren's Oscar Piastri.
In his explanation as to why Zandvoort was selected as one of the circuits, Ferrari team principal Vasseur stated, “Because it was the choice of the driver. I gave them the choice to do it, where they wanted to do it. Because for sure you can’t do it in Singapore, in Japan, in Las Vegas. Also, you have some Sprint events in Austin, Qatar, also that you can’t do it. Then you have the races with tyre allocation, a bit different, so it is also tricky to do it, meaning at the end of the day you don’t have so many options."
F1: Ferrari’s 2023 Season
The SF23 is a letdown for a team that last year delivered a car that gave Red Bull a run for its money. While Red Bull continued to make progress towards the 2023 season with RB19, Ferrari came to a standstill. This far, it has been the second-fastest qualifying car on average, but the gap between it and Red Bull is much wider than it was a year ago, and it has frequently failed to hold that position on race day. The outward-facing sidepods were retained from the previous year's design, but this time around the focus was put squarely on top-end acceleration.
Ferrari has shown indications of progress in recent races, as seen by Leclerc's second-place result in Austria, followed by a third-place finish in Spa during the last Grand Prix before the summer break. Vasseur, though, is aware of the need to press on if they are to ever begin winning races.
One of Ferrari's aims for the remainder of the season is to move up into second position in the constructors' standings, ahead of Mercedes, Aston Martin, and McLaren. They are now in fourth place, but with all four teams experiencing ups and downs in performance so far this season, the Ferrari will need to find stability if they are to retain the title of runners-up they won last year.