Carlos Sainz has made his track debut for Ferrari, albeit at the wheel of a three-year-old car.

The Spaniard headed out on to a frosty Fiorano track at 09:30, his car sporting Sainz’ familiar race number 55.

At the wheel of the SF71H, Sainz completed over 100 laps as well as spending valuable time with the engineers he will be working with over the coming weeks, months and years.

Watching the Spaniard’s debut from the flyover on the public road to Maranello were a number of spectators and journalists and by late afternoon there was even a banner bearing the words “Vamos Carlos!”.

Present at the track was the Spaniard’s father, rally legend Carlos Sainz Snr, as well as teammate Charles Leclerc and Marco Matassa, head of Ferrari Driver Academy, who worked with Sainz when they were both at Scuderia Toro Rosso.

Sainz is the third Spaniard to race for Ferrari in the world championship. Fernando Alonso raced for the Maranello team between 2010 and 2014, while in the mid-50s the Marquis Alfonso de Portago contested 5 Grand Prix with the team.

Sainz will continue at the wheel of the SF71H tomorrow morning before handing over to Mick Schumacher in the afternon.

“A day I will never forget!” grinned Sainz at the end of his first day. “This morning, the alarm went off at dawn because we had some very early meetings before going out on track. One of the most special moments for me today was when I arrived at the circuit and I saw the Ferrari with my number 55 on it! I was eager to jump in the car and that first installation lap was exciting.

“Then we got down to work and I am very pleased with how the day unfolded. We were able to get through an extensive programme and I was able to familiarise myself with the whole setup: the engineers and mechanics, the steering wheel, the procedures which are obviously a bit different to those on the car I drove last season.

“It was very nice to have my father there at such an important moment in my career. And I’d like to thank Mattia, Laurent and everyone at Ferrari for such a warm welcome and such a positive first day in the 2018 car. I am very happy and could not have wished for a better start.”

Despite Mattia Binotto’s confidence that the Maranello outfit is on top of the aero issues that compromised it last season, and an all-new engine that is producing impressive results on the test bed, according to Sports Betting Dime the Italian team goes into the new season at 14/1 to win the constructors’ title, this compared to Mercedes (1/5) and Red Bull 67/20. Aston Martin is quoted at 60/1 and McLaren and Alpine both at 80/1.

Check out our gallery from Fiorano, here.

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