The Formula One world enters its second week of vacant tracks as the summer break rolls on. This week, as expected, had much less drama. I mean how could you beat last week which saw drivers announcing retirement, switching teams, and refuting signed contacts all in a couple of days? This week is more about teams and drivers progressing rather than the dumpster fires we saw in week one. This contrast highlights why Formula One fans often refer to the summer break under its adopted name: Silly Season.
Ferrari Designates Robert Shwartzman for Rookie Practice Sessions
Laurent Mekies, Ferrari’s Race Director, revealed this week that Russo-Israeli Robert Shwartzman will be driving the powerful F1-75 for both of Ferrari’s rookie free practice 1 session. Per the new 2022 F1 rules, teams are required to run a minimum of two such sessions throughout the season. So far only Mercedes, Williams, and Red Bull have run such a session this season. Mekies stated that Ferrari has not decided which tracks Shwartzman will run at, but he did state that they will be avoiding tracks such as Singapore where drivers require more time on track to get the most out of the car.
Robert Shwartzman currently serves as an academy driver for Ferrari after finishing second place in the 2021 Formula Two championship, only behind his teammate Oscar Piastri. Shwartzman currently races under the Israeli flag following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
Ferrari Team Principal Mattia Binotto explained this classification by pointing out that Shwartzman was born in Israel, has an Israeli passport, and does not race under a Russian license. The team also made sure that Shwartzman had no agreements with Russian-based companies. Shwartzman’s future contrasts that of former Haas driver Nikita Mazepin who lost his seat in Formula One due to his connection with Russia.
Zhou Guanyu Reflects on the First Half of His Rookie Season
This week Zhou, the lone rookie in Formula One this year, reflected on his time driving for Alfa Romeo so far this year. He stated that he was impressed with his growth but was very disappointed in the reliability issues that have plagued Alfa Romeo. The team runs a Ferrari power unit which has, so far this season, lead to many DNFs by Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, and Haas.
Despite those issues, Zhou is optimistic about what he has been able to accomplish so far this season. He stated, “I definitely think we would have scored more points if we didn’t have that many DNFs." He followed, "but we were able to at least tick off the targets; we went through Q3, scoring points two times, so I’m happy in that way and we show good speed and momentum going forward.”
Zhou has certainly had a season filled with ups and downs including one of the most dramatic crashes in Formula One since Romain Grosjean’s incredible fiery crash during the 2020 Bahrain GP. During the first turn 2022 British GP, Zhou was flipped and sent spinning on his halo into a catch fence only feet from spectators. Zhou was left in the car for quite a while as the car became pinned between the fence and a tire barrier.
Luckily Zhou was able to be extracted and was taken to the hospital for evaluation. The team provided welcomed news during the race that Zhou was conscious, talking, and sustained no fractures from the crash. This crash highlighted yet another instance where the halo, a driver safety device that the FIA made mandatory on every car in 2018, potentially saved the life of a young racing driver.
Even though this was a slower week, the world of Formula One still manages to keep Silly Season alive until the cars are back on the track. As always, I will be updating these stories and breaking others every Sunday until the Belgian Grand Prix on August 28th.
Justin Mader is a recent graduate of the University of New Hampshire Franklin Pierce School of Law where he earned a J.D. and a Sports and Entertainment Law Certificate. He can be reached via Twitter: @maderlaw and LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/justin-mader-15a602119/.