Vettel: Mugello deserves to host F1 grand prix

Luke Smith

In preparation for the delayed 2020 F1 season-opener in Austria next month, Ferrari held a private test at Mugello on Tuesday with its 2018-spec SF71H car. 

Vettel completed the morning session before handing over to team-mate Charles Leclerc in the afternoon as the Ferrari team got to grips with new procedures amid the COVID-19 pandemic. It marked Vettel’s first drive in an F1 car since the end of pre-season testing in February, almost four months ago. 

The four-time world champion last drove at Mugello in 2012 during an in-season test, and said he would welcome a grand prix at the circuit. 

“I was glad to get back in the cockpit after a break that was even longer than the usual winter one. I was also very pleased to see all the guys from the team at last,” said Vettel. “It was great to once again get those feelings from a car and to do so at such a spectacular track. I really think Mugello deserves to host a Formula 1 grand prix.

“I hadn’t driven it for eight years, so it took a few laps for me to get used to the track, and then I really enjoyed myself.”

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Mugello is in contention to host an F1 race for the first time this year as part of the revised 2020 calendar, with a September slot following the Italian Grand Prix at Monza on 6 September being mooted. F1 is considering a number of options beyond the eight-race calendar announced thus far, with additional races in Europe thought likely.

Mugello has held the Italian MotoGP round since 1994 and some continental GT racing, but has never held an F1 grand prix.

 Vettel’s younger team-mate Leclerc was similarly upbeat following the test running, during which he completed around a grand prix distance. 

“How great was that, getting back on track for real,” said Leclerc. “I’d missed it. Even though I’ve been pretty busy with virtual racing during this long break, I needed to once again get that physical impression of speed. 

“Being able to drive on such a spectacular track as Mugello, for the first time at the wheel of a Formula 1 car, helped to make this day even more memorable. Now, we’re looking ahead to the season and as from next week, things get serious.”

Ferrari is the fourth team after Mercedes, Renault and Racing Point to have completed F1 test running in preparation for Austria.

The test “was deliberately run in the same working conditions the teams will experience in Austria,” according to the team.

“The anti COVID-19 protocols were assessed, with mechanics and engineers working in masks and respecting social distancing in a modified garage layout,” the team said in review of the day. 

“Sebastian and Charles also did the same when they changed over seats in the SF71H at the lunchbreak.”