Ferrari-backed Formula 3 champion Robert Shwartzman says he is braced for a mentally and physically tough year, following the death of his father, as he prepares to step up to Formula 2.
Shwartzman, 20, emerged as last year’s Formula 3 champion and will be one of five Ferrari juniors on the grid when he makes his Formula 2 debut with Prema this weekend.
Formula 2, along with Formula 3, will join Formula 1 at the eight events confirmed so far, meaning that with two races per weekend the drivers are set for 16 races in just a 10-week period.
The category has retained its F2/18 chassis for a third season but will switch to 18-inch tyres leaving rookies, such as Shwartzman, with little time to adapt.
“The calendar feels tough, it looks really difficult, there’s a lot of races in a row,” he said in a video produced by Prema.
“The Formula 2 car is not the easiest car, mentally and physically it’s a tough car, also it’s a really tough season, I think it will be the toughest of my life.
“Physically it will be tough, with three race weekends in a row, so hopefully we can recover in time for each weekend, in a physical way.
“It’ll be tough for me mentally, for sure really tough, because I don’t know where we’re at, I don’t have much experience and feeling with this car, there’s no time basically to learn it, I just need to jump in and deliver the result straight away, and also obviously it’s going to be to try to motivate myself of working and performing as well as I did last year without my Dad.”
Shwartzman’s father, Mikhail, passed away in April due to the effects of the Covid-19 coronavirus, aged just 52.
“It was the biggest thing I could have lost in my life, I couldn’t imagine to lose anything else,” he said.
“I think this pain won’t go away, slowly it will decrease, but it will always stay there.
“Obviously a lot of things will remind me of my Dad, but I have to be strong to change it in my mind in a good way, so it won’t influence my performance.
“I’m happy with Prema, I can start doing work, chat with people, tell stories about what happened, [stay] fully focused and targeted; I want to achieve big things in my life for me, for my Dad, and for my family.”