ROBERT: AN INTERVIEW FROM TESTS

The most famous European tracks are currently the arenas for junior categories testing. Many GP2, GP3, Formula 3 and Formula 4 drivers and teams prepare themselves for the new season. Robert Shwartzman is one of them. Russian driver started working with his new team Mücke Motorsport. There’s still more than a month before F4 season starts, so there’s still more than enough time to visit several important tracks.

Question: Why do you choose Mücke Motorsport above other teams you’ve been testing with?
Robert Shwartzman: Mücke is a good team, well-experienced. It has less experience in Formula 4 than Prema, but Prema did’t want to compete in 2 championships at the same time. This season will be the second for Prema in Formula 4. As for Mücke, we’re just getting started. Mücke can compete in both championships and they offered more comfortable financial conditions. But the main thing is doing both championships.

How will the team handle two championships? Will you have the same people around you in every race?
Yes, that’s our plan – same team in German and Italian championships. They are ready for this, all the tracks are not too far away from each other. I don’t think there is a problem here.

With still more than one month of free time, where will you drive for tests in this period?
Our schedule changes almost every day. I don’t know exactly what tracks we are going to visit and when it is going to happen, but we certainly want to test at the same tracks we have in our championships schedule. I think we will visit Spa and Hockenheim first. Last week we missed 3 days of testing because I was sick but I hope we can catch up in the next few weeks. There’s still enough time before the season starts.

Do you know the configuration of tracks you are going to drive this season?
I know Adria well, last year I took part in last two events in Monza and Imola. Unfortunately this year I was unable to test in Imola. All the tracks are very different. For example Monza is a high-speed track and Franciacorta is a slow one which reminds me of karting tracks. As for German tracks, we spent two days in Lausitz a couple of weeks ago. I like this track very much. We have our plans for Spa, Hockenheim and Nurburgring. Certainly, the most tricky track is Sachsenring, but we haven’t been there yet at this moment.

How do you feel physically, how do you prepare for your first full open-wheel season?
I go to gym, everything is fine. I had some problems in Lausitz at our first tests. I was tired because I didn’t compete in any races for 3 months. Few days later I felt better. I didn’t have any problems in Monza and Imola last week. Besides that, I was doing box in winter. Thanks to that, my physical form is enough good.

What do you say about your teammates?
There are four drivers in our team. David Beckmann will compete in both championships next to me. I know him very well after karting. There are more drivers in German championship but I haven’t met them yet.

What’s your main goal for this season?
At first I must spend some time behind the wheel at our tests. The team doesn’t have enough experience in Formula 4 - this season will be first for them in this category. My engineer Wito sets up the car very well, I feel very comfortable in all kinds of corners. Of course it’s not possible to relax, you always need to control it, but generally it goes very accurate and fast. The car is completely new so we experience lack of power at this moment. The team is on it and I hope things get back to normal before the season starts. When it does, I want to be in top-3 in both championships. Everything is fine, I watch how the team works.

Are the Superlicense points important to you, do you want to collect as many as you can?
Yes I know the rules. We hope to gain some points this year already.

There will be more than 20 drivers in Italian championship, more than 30 in German. How do you rate your chances?
Italian and German championships will be extremely competitive this year. I’ll try to get to the podium in every race. In motor racing you never know beforehand… My target is podium but at least I’d like to be in top five or six regularly.

Which of the drivers do you see as your main opponents?
Prema Power Team is absolute favorite in Italy. Ralf Aron looks very fast at these tests. Prema has huge experience. Same as several more teams they will compete in Formula 4 for their second season. We realize that the first half of the championship will be difficult for us. But we’ll see what we can do. As for Germany – I don’t know yet. The championship is new and everyone is in the same conditions. Let’s wait for some collective tests.

Mick Schumacher and Harrison Newey signed with Van Amersfoort. Do you count them as your opponents?
I didn’t meet Harrison yet, I don’t know how fast he is. As for Mick, we know each other very well. We were in karting for several years. He is a very strong opponent, but let’s wait until the season starts.

Who is the main protagonist in Formula 3 this year?
Jensen will be fast, he was looking very good in Valencia and he drives with Mücke Motorsport. I think Leclerc and Russell will show some great speed too. Lance Stroll will probably join them in the leading group. Felix Rosenqvist is a very experienced driver there.

What about Formula 1? Do you watch how things go there?
As we do now, some F1 teams currently adapt to their new cars. We have same problems and the situation looks very similar to what’s happening in Formula 1.