Mick Schumacher and Callum Ilott will both get another chance to take part in an FP1 session later in the season after the cancellation of Friday practice at the Eifel Grand Prix.
Low cloud throughout Friday meant the medical helicopter was unable to fly at the Nurburgring, and with the nearest suitable hospital nearly 60km (37 miles) away, that was enough to prevent the sessions from taking place on safety grounds. Both Schumacher and Ilott were due to make their FP1 debuts for Alfa Romeo and Haas respectively, but the Ferrari Driver Academy (FDA) pair now will have to wait for another chance.
“I think they will (get another chance), but not very soon,” Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto said. “If you look at the next races: Portugal, Imola, Turkey, these are all brand-new circuits for the top teams and top drivers, so I think the top drivers will require some practice running, and then it’s Bahrain where they’ve got their own F2 races, which is important and they need to stay focused.
“So Abu Dhabi will be the next opportunity. We need to have some patience. It’s a shame for today, it would have been a great opportunity. They prepared themselves well, they had some running and testing in Fiorano to prepare, but that’s the weather and we cannot change it.”
While a change of plans would require the agreement of the likes of Haas and Alfa Romeo once again, Binotto is confident that won’t be a problem based on how the original talks went.
“Both are good kids, they are driving well in F2 and I think they’re of interest to the other teams,” he said. “When we proposed it they were very keen to support our request to give them an opportunity and a chance, because it’s important as well to see them running in an F1 car to understand their capacity for developing for the future.”
Any running in Abu Dhabi could impact fellow FDA member Robert Shwartzman who is scheduled to make his FP1 debut there, and Binotto believes all three have a shot at being in F1 next year.
“Hopefully, yes,” he said. “The objective of the Ferrari Driver Academy is not only developing drivers for F1, but to find the next drivers for Scuderia Ferrari. It’s our responsibility to define what is the best path for them, and if I look at the seasons that they are doing currently in F2 I think they are almost mature enough to join F1 very soon.”
Reflecting on the missed opportunity at the Nurburgring, Schumacher himself says he still learned from the preparation experience and is willing to wait for another chance.
“I think at the end it has been a shame not able to get out,” Schumacher said. “We knew the forecast didn’t look great, obviously this time of the year in the Eifel is not the most sure it’s going to be dry. We knew it might be wet, and it was, in the end the preparation was good, we’ve done a lot of meetings, I got so much knowledge of it, so it’s been very helpful.
“Obviously we have to wait and see how things develop. There’s a lot of tracks coming up which are not often driven on so also the official drivers need their time in the car, so we’ll just have to wait and see.”