SMP Racing drivers Robert Shwartzman, Alexander Smolyar and Sergey Sirotkin took part in the pre-season tests of the FIA Formula 2 and FIA Formula 3 Championships, which were held on March 1-3 at the Bahrain International Circuit.Alexander Smolyar graduated to FIA Formula 3 in 2020. He drove for the ART Grand Prix team and over the course of three days of tests he covered 156 laps, which is equal to about 844 kilometers. The best time of the Russian was 1:46.744.
This year, Robert Shwartzman will continue to compete for the Italian Prema Racing team. He sat behind the wheel of a Formula 2 car for the second time after the first tests in December 2019. During the three-day test he drove 197 laps, or 1066 kilometers. Robert's best time was 1:41.655.
Sergey Sirotkin replaced the Danish driver Christian Lundgaard, the ART Grand Prix driver, and helped the team to work on the Formula 2 car. 18-inch tyres instead of 13-inch tyres are being introduced in Formula 2 this year, and Sergey’s experience testing them last year came in handy for the French team. For three days Sirotkin drove 161 laps, or 871 kilometers. His best time was 1:41.602.
“This is my first time driving at tthe Bahrain International Circuit, but I liked the track,” Alexander Smolyar said. “There is a good working atmosphere, ready-to-fight mood. We have gathered a lot of information and, in general, are pleased with the results we achieved during these days. The behavior of the Formula 3 car is now clear to me - the basics are the same everywhere. I gradually get used to the new car in terms of sensations - in order to understand where it can snap and where it will normally go. Understanding this comes with experience, so I just need time. I didn’t take part in any series in the winter, but it didn’t affect the test results, so I’m happy with how everything turned out.”
“I like the Formula 2 car, and in three days of testing we have made significant progress in finding settings,” Robert Shwartzman said. “The behavior of the new tyres is interesting: when you push the limits, there are times that the car suddenly breaks down, and you had to get used to it. The 13-inch tyres felt different, such situations were more expected. Our main purpose was to collect information, but in general we understand that we should be in the top five or three. We completed almost the entire planned program, although red flags often appeared on the track and sometimes traffic interfered.”
“The impressions from the past tests are as pleasant as possible,” Sergey Sirotkin said. “During these four years, since my last participation in the GP2 series, the car has changed a lot. Objectively speaking, it became completely different, and it was interesting for me to drive it. We have successfully worked all three days, tried different settings, both on shorter and longer series. Many options showed themselves well, and by the sum of all the factors, I would suggest that the ART Grand Prix is one of the two fastest in the pack. I hope that in two weeks the team will be able to compete for the victory here in Bahrain. And I am pleased that it will be partly of my contribution. I was glad to help my former team,working with which I have the warmest memories.”
The 2020 FIA Formula 2 and Formula 3 seasons start on March 21-22 in Bahrain, where the first rounds of both championships will take place.