Leal completes first F1 test, Berthon joins Caterham

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GP2 drivers Julian Leal and Nathanael Berthon have both taken another step towards reaching Formula 1 thanks to Caterham F1 Team.

Leal completed his first F1 test with the team at Silverstone on Wednesday, and despite an electrical problem curtailing his initial run after just one lap, the Colombian was pleased with his day of running.

“I would like to thank everyone at Caterham F1 Team and all our partners for helping make today happen,” Leal said. “Stepping up to F1 has always been my goal and today it came true for the first time, thanks to the hard work of a lot of people, so thank you to all of them.

“We completed 51 laps which is just over the 300km required to be eligible for a superlicense, so I’m very pleased we achieved the main goal today!”

Fellow GP2 driver Nathanael Berthon has also secured a new tie with Caterham following the team’s change of ownership. He is the first member of the new ‘driver development’ programme, and new team principal Christijan Albers was pleased to confirm the signing of the 25-year-old.

“We are very pleased to welcome Nathanael into our team as the first driver in our Development Driver Program,” Albers said. “He is an exciting young talent with a proven track record in the feeder series for F1 and as he already has F1 experience he fits very neatly into our team.

“We will work closely with him to help him reach his full potential and are all excited about seeing him continue to grow as a driver, in and out of the cockpit.”

Last weekend’s GP2 races in Great Britain saw Leal secure two fifth place finishes at Silverstone, leaving him eighth in the drivers’ standings. Berthon failed to score any points once again, but did manage to equal his best finish of the season in 12th place on Sunday.

Michael Schumacher’s son to make F1 practice debut at Nurburgring

F1 Mick Schumacher
Joe Portlock - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images
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MARANELLO, Italy — Mick Schumacher, son of the legednary seven-time champion, will have an official Formula One drive during an F1 race weekend for the first time next week at the Nurburgring, Alfa Romeo and Ferrari said Tuesday.

Schumacher gets the practice drive in an Alfa Romeo on Oct. 9 on his home track in Germany as a member of Ferrari’s young driver program, taking over Antonio Giovinazzi’s car for the first session of the weekend.

“I am overjoyed to get this chance in free practice,” Schumacher said in a statement. “I’m going to prepare myself well, so that I can do the best possible job for the team and gain some valuable data for the weekend.”

The 21-year-old Schumacher leads the Formula 2 standings after winning races in Monza and Sochi. He won the European Formula 3 championship in 2018 and tested a Ferrari F1 car in Bahrain in April 2019. He also has done demonstration runs in his father’s old cars, most recently this month ahead of the Tuscan Grand Prix in a championship-winning 2004 Ferrari.

Michael Schumacher holds the F1 record with 91 victories, which Lewis Hamilton is on the verge of tying.

Ferrari said two other drivers in its academy program will also get practice drives in Formula One.

Callum Ilott, a British driver who is second to Mick Schumacher in F2, will drive an F1 Haas at the Nurburgring on the same day as Schumacher. Russian driver Robert Shwartzman will drive in practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Dec. 11, though Ferrari hasn’t said for which team.

The German round was added to the F1 schedule after the coronavirus pandemic disrupted the season and will be officially known as the Eifel Grand Prix after a nearby mountain range. The Nurburgring last hosted F1 in 2013.