Photo: Michael Lewis Racing/Alessio Morgese
All attention may be on the Young Driver Test in Abu Dhabi this week, but while Jules Bianchi was helping the team with aero development at Yas Marina yesterday, Ferrari gave two drivers their first F1 experience at Vallelunga in Italy…
As part of a tie up with the Italian federation the CSAI, Ferrari have given tests to the top drivers from the Italian F3 Championship in recent years. This year that chance went to the series champion Sergio Campana as well as top rookie and overall runner-up Michael Lewis. Both took to the wheel of the F60, the car used by Ferrari in 2009, at the circuit near Rome.
American driver Lewis was the first out on track, completing 45 laps with a best time of?1.21.040. The 20-year-old Californian stepped up to F3 from Formula BMW Europe this year. He shone at the famed Spa-Francorhamps circuit in Belgium in August where he took pole position and his first victory. Further wins followed at the final two rounds at Mugello and Monza to allow him to take second place overall. After coming fourth in Formula BMW America in 2009, he struggled a little after his move to Europe last year, only managing 14th overall and a best result of fifth. His results in 2011 though suggest that he is indeed a talent, defeating two members of Ferrari’s Driver Academy in Brendon Maisano and Raffaele Marciello.
Italian driver Campana ran second, and got a best time of 1:20.600 from his 43 laps, thus shading Lewis by four tenths of a second. His age of 25 might suggest that he’s been around in single-seater formulae for years, but he was a late starter and only stepped out of karting in 2007. His second season of Italian Formula Renault in 2008 yielded fifth overall and three wins. He stepped up to Italian F3 in 2009 and took three wins on his way to fourth overall. Another three wins follwed in 2010 when he ended up fifth in the points, before winning this year’s title with two race victories.