By Frank Santoroski, Staff Writer
Haas F1 development driver, Santino Ferrucci, was given the opportunity to drive a Formula One machine for the first time on Tuesday during an in-season test at Silverstone in England.
The 18-year old Ferrucci, who hails from Woodbury, Connecticut, signed on with the American-based F1 team earlier this season, as he continues a full season in GP3 with the DAMS organization. In a session that was hit with rain showers, the youngster completed 55 laps on the 3.660-mile circuit, logging enough mileage to qualify for the FIA Super License that will make him eligible to compete in a Grand Prix.
“The Haas VF-16 was a very different experience from my GP3 car, and a lot of fun to drive,” said Ferrucci. “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.”
Haas F1 team principle, Guenther Steiner, was pleased with Ferrucci, saying, “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.”
Gene Haas, who is also a primary owner with Stewart-Haas in NASCAR, debuted his North Carolina-based team in F1 this season, and has exceeded expectations with driver, Romain Grosjean, currently occupying the tenth position in the season standings.
Haas’ effort is the first American team to enter Formula One since Carl Haas (no relation) entered cars in 1985 for Alan Jones and Patrick Tambay. Ferrucci’s laps at Silverstone mark the first time an American driver has driven in an American F1 car since 1977, when Danny Ongias was entered in the Canadian Grand Prix for Roger Penske.
While rain hindered the team’s plan to test various aero components, Ferrucci had the opportunity to run with a variety of different Pirelli tires, including the white mediums, the orange hard tires, and the green intermediates. Ferrucci’s fastest lap of 1:34.866 was laid down with the mediums, and put him seventh quick of eleven cars participating in the test session.
The team returns Wednesday for the final day of testing, with Ferrucci in the car once again.
“I’ll spend tonight looking at my driving and I’ll work on gaining even more confidence in the car,” said Ferrucci. “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.”