Robert Shwartzman hopes his outings for Ferrari at the end of the 2022 season will have reminded potential race teams of his abilities.
The Israeli-born Russian didn’t race this year, instead fulfilling a Ferrari development driver role after finishing second in the Formula 2 championship a year ago. Without the ability to show his potential in race situations, Shwartzman tells RACER his appearances in FP1 in Austin and Abu Dhabi, as well as the post-season test, could be crucial to his future.
“I hope it did something, the test and the results I got,” Shwartzman said. “I hope it’s at least shown to people in motorsport that I’m still there, I didn’t lose my skills. The work I did with Ferrari — even if it was on the sim — it still helped me and made me mature and also prepared me for actual driving.
“After a little bit, if people forgot about you, you knock and say, ‘I’m still here.’ So it gave me this vibe, so I’m very happy with the test and the FP sessions. Even if during the year it hasn’t been a lot of opportunities, it was still an opportunity that I could show who I am.”
Much of Shwartzman’s work with Ferrari this year took place behind the scenes, and while he says it has helped him improve he wants to get back in a race seat in 2023.
“Of course there was a lot to learn, a lot to do of course. It’s a positive side. You always need to take some positives, which is that I’ve actually done a lot of work this year; we did a lot of development with the sim guys for the car, I’ve been much closer with the team, so it is a benefit. But still I want to go back to racing, so that’s the main target for next year — to finally go back on the racetrack and start working and delivering results and being there.”
The 23-year-old won the Formula 3 title in 2019 before stepping up to F2 and says he struggled mentally during his year without a race seat after attitudes towards Russian drivers were impacted by the sanctions related to the invasion of Ukraine.
“It was very challenging, I must say. As a driver, generally, this year has been super-tough on me. It’s not just the fact that I didn’t do what I love to do the most, which is to race — I also had a lot of pressure from the global situation. So a lot of moments mentally were a nightmare. Few drivers speak about mental moments and issues and everybody has that, but for me it was super-tough this year.
“I had to really push and overcome, and at this stage I’m really glad and thankful to the people around me who pushed me not to give up, because at some stage you start questioning yourself and everything. But it’s important to have people next to you who tell you to calm down, keep believing, keep pushing, even though you personally don’t see anything coming…
“But whenever there is a little chance you can still go for it and whenever you prove something or show it then maybe things change. At the end of the day I’m happy I’ve overcome this tough period. I hope in the future it’s going to be getting better and better. On my side my focus is mainly to keep on working, keep on doing what I do most of my life and enjoy as much as possible what there is to enjoy.”