Mick Schumacher enjoyed a straightforward debut in F1 with Haas on Friday, insisting his practice session unfolded smoothly as he got acquainted with his car and team.
Schumacher had taken over Kevin Magnussen’s VF-20 and started his day on Pirelli’s hard compound to establish a baseline run around Yas Marina.
The newly crowned FIA Formula 2 champion was then allocated a set of soft tyres on which he set his fastest lap, a performance that placed him 18th quickest in the session.
“I would say things went pretty smoothly today in FP1,” said the German. “I was getting used to the car – it’s such a big step from Formula 2 up into Formula 1, but I’m happy everything went well.
“I felt comfortable with every switch and then every switch change in the car.
“I started off on the hardest compound and got to do a few consecutive laps which was really good, every lap really counts as you’re building up the pace and learning where you can push into each corner.
“It was really just a matter of time and getting the laps in. We then went onto the softer tyre, which was a huge jump – the difference in compound is something you really feel strongly.
“It was cool, really nice. I’m really looking forward to getting back into the car on Tuesday at the test.”
On the other side of the Haas garage, Pietro Fittipaldi who entered his second full Grand Prix weekend, devoted most of FP1 to a 2021 development program and did not undertake any low-fuel runs, hence the close to three-second gap to Schumacher in the morning session.
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The Brazilian went over five seconds faster in FP2, although it was “crazy” session according to the 24-year-old.
“In FP1 we were trying things for 2021, so it was interesting to see how the car handled,” he commented.
“For FP2 we went back to our standard car for this weekend focusing on more performance running, as FP1 we had prioritized long runs. So that’s when I got my first feel for the car this weekend.
“It was a bit of a crazy session. I had a yellow flag on my push lap on the softs on low fuel. I had to back off and push again.
“Then when we were going to start our long run, I saw the car of Kimi (Raikkonen) going on fire, so that meant we couldn’t get all the laps we had wanted in. It was still a good session and I was able to understand a lot of things.
“We have to focus now and hopefully we can make a step forward tomorrow.
“Overall, I’ve arrived a lot more confident into this race weekend, whether I’m in traffic or running around other cars, even with my procedures – my driving in general I’m a lot more confident with. All that definitely helps.”
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