It’s been a troublesome three years for Robert Shwartzman.
The Ferrari System 1 junior received the FIA System 3 title in 2019 however started an important F2 marketing campaign that might have launched him on the trail to stardom with the information that his father had handed away after contracting Covid-19 in April 2020.
He nonetheless received 4 races that yr – probably the most of any driver – however a little bit of inconsistency led to fourth within the championship. Then, for 2021, he might solely end second behind 2020 F3 champion Oscar Piastri – although each had been left on the sidelines for 2022 as Shwartzman was Ferrari take a look at and growth driver whereas Piastri took on an analogous position at Alpine earlier than ending up with an F1 seat at McLaren.
Now Shwartzman’s had a promotion of types. Although technically he was in Ferrari’s F1 reserve pool final yr, now he formally will get the job title to match – sharing the F1 reserve driver place with Antonio Giovinazzi, who’s racing the Prancing Horse’s new hybrid prototype in 2023.
Shwartzman may even return to racing in Ferrari’s GT ranks, within the GT World Problem Europe collection with its prime group AF Corse.
The truth that the nation he beforehand raced beneath the flag of, Russia, invaded Ukraine in 2022 additionally didn’t assist Shwartzman’s probabilities of making race outings anyplace final season. Taking up a distinct nationality – Israeli, that of his father’s origin – not less than meant he might take part within the Austin and Abu Dhabi FP1 classes for Ferrari on the finish of final yr.
In actual fact, Shwartzman was born in Israel and has lived in Italy since he was 9, so his background is actually numerous.
As of late Shwartzman brings little or no monetary assist – he’s minimize ties with any Russian backers.
The actual fact Ferrari has promoted him amid all of that exhibits how extremely it charges him. It’s identified the group has been impressed by his work and, contemplating his finances constraints, his reserve-driver position has been earned on benefit.
Given how constant and bulletproof Shwartzman was beneath strain in that 2019 F3 marketing campaign, his mentality and his means to beat adversity has actually been examined ever since.
That continued in 2022 with every thing happening round him.
“The yr was not straightforward,” Shawartzman tells The Race, contemporary off the again of a latest IndyCar take a look at with Chip Ganassi Racing.
“However it was, I believe, nonetheless essential in my profession, as a result of I discovered numerous issues and nonetheless, there was numerous work that I’ve achieved.
“Clearly, it wasn’t straightforward. However total, I believe it’s an expertise, an important expertise that I’ve now.
“And I wish to imagine that yr made me stronger than ever and that’s going to assist me and convey me someplace the place I wish to be. In order that’s form of a device that I’m going to have sooner or later.”
The reality of the matter is, the political facet of racing doesn’t come significantly naturally to Shwartzman. He’s far more of an old-school racer than a political manoeuvrer. He’s completely well mannered and charming to speak to, however there’s no doubting his precedence is racing, and something round that may be a distraction. He’s a correct petrolhead.
It appears like Shwartzman’s former Ferrari junior Callum Ilott is minimize from related fabric, and he used a yr as take a look at and growth driver for Ferrari in 2021 to forge a path in the direction of a seat in IndyCar, the place he has an extended and fruitful profession forward. Shwartzman may get that likelihood quickly too.
In junior single-seaters in Europe, the groups have their very own philosophies of how greatest to set the automobile up and the way the automobile ought to behave, like in IndyCar. However in IndyCar, the groups have extra freedom to make automobile modifications with dampers, aero and suchlike. F2 and F3 are spec automobiles and modifications are restricted.
In an F1 take a look at and growth position, Shwartzman was pounding round within the sim trialling elements upgrades and set-up modifications. Suggestions is completely important. Plus you may get a couple of exams within the automobile for actual, after which it’s about correlating what you’ve discovered from the sim for real-life.
These are all stuff you do in IndyCar as effectively, however not in junior method. So it’s a good position to be in.
Nonetheless, there’s no substitute for racing.
Shwartzman will do a yr in GTs first earlier than he will get the identical likelihood as Ilott to make an IndyCar swap, however 2024 is a risk and Ganassi actually impressed Shwartzman.
“At this stage, it’s too early from my facet to say, I simply did a take a look at, however who is aware of what the longer term goes to carry,” he says. “I’m a man who’s simply prepared to race and it is determined by the scenario, on the place the place I’m going to be in.
“IndyCar is without doubt one of the choices and I believe it’s nonetheless an excellent possibility. However at this stage, I don’t have something particular in thoughts to say.”
Shwartzman is eager to maintain expectations low after his IndyCar take a look at as a result of 2024 is to this point within the distance and, after all, he’s nonetheless hopeful of an F1 likelihood.
However he actually loved the take a look at, even when Sebring in January as a part of a one-car take a look at has the potential to be underwhelming.
“IndyCar is basically cool,” he says. “It’s a little bit of a distinct world in contrast with the European collection from my facet, how they handle every thing. However however, I believe it’s very cool. It’s totally different and that’s what I like. I don’t wish to say it’s unhealthy or good, for me, it’s simply totally different, however I really favored it.
“It’s like a little bit of old-school, however I like old-school stuff. So for me, it was really giving a pleasant impression total.”
The automobile wasn’t instantly to Shwartzman’s liking, however he was impressed by how a lot Ganassi was in a position to get by way of throughout the day and the way snug he felt by the tip of the take a look at.
The present IndyCar – typically, relying on the nook clearly – suffers from mid-corner understeer and entry/exit oversteer, so it isn’t instantly suited to everybody. And the groups have such totally different damper programmes that may change the traits so considerably.
“From my facet it didn’t absolutely go well with my fashion completely,” says Shwartzman.
“However I believe that I already bought the texture and I perceive a bit tips on how to handle the automobile and tips on how to drive it.
“With the engineers, we managed to do a extremely good set-up in order that the automobile will likely be just about spot on from my feeling. And that’s what we really did on the take a look at.
“We examined plenty of totally different choices and on the finish of the day, we discovered a reasonably candy possibility that was suiting me fairly effectively and the automobile was behaving really fairly properly.
“Sure there are some issues like a little bit of mid-corner understeer as an inclination and perhaps some snaps within the entries or exit relying on the nook. However I believe total, any automobile you’ll be able to repair it.
“Total as a automobile, I believe it’s fairly good to work with.”
If Shwartzman isn’t in a position to persuade Ferrari he deserves a good greater F1 position for 2024, then sufficient drivers have come over from F2 and impressed in IndyCar lately to say that there’s sufficient of a pathway for him to observe in the direction of the US.
The one blockage may be Shwartzman not with the ability to carry a finances, however others have overcome this problem and it’s clear he’s a prime expertise value taking what some may regard as a chance on.
One factor is for certain: Shwartzman can be an immediate hit on the street and avenue programs in Ganassi equipment.