F1 chiefs of Mercedes, Red Bull, Ferrari and Alpine have their say on the mandatory rookie running on a Friday from 2022 onward at few races.
F1 is making a push to be more inclusive towards rookies and the younger generation and this rule will do just that. In the past it has been an option for teams and some have taken it up every now and then and some haven’t especially the front running teams who don’t want to take any track time away from their title protagonists.
Rookies very rarely get a chance to drive an F1 car with such limited testing these days let alone over the course of a race weekend. Such moves tend to work for midfield or lower rug outfits, but the current move seems to be likened by the front-runners too – usually they don’t wish to give up time as they are fighting for titles.
The definition of a rookie is yet to be ascertained, but Mercedes is onboard nevertheless. “You mustn’t have any grand prix experience in that sense, so we need to give young drivers the opportunity to have a little bit more stress during the race weekend, have a comparison against the other guy in the garage, work with the team, and I very much welcome the regulations for next year,” said Toto Wolff.
The Austrian is clearly open to the idea of placing one of their rookies in the car during points throughout a season. Mercedes have produced some top talent over the years with the likes of George Russell and Esteban Ocon and giving young drivers of their calibre a chance in top machinery can only be a good thing for driver development.
Likewise Red Bull sees the good side of it. They do have the most formidable F1 driver academy with at times, the grid littered with former and current prodigies. They have the luxury of having an official B team in AlphaTauri as well, but as the senior outfit, they seem to be onboard like Mercedes.
So, putting some of those rookies in the Red Bull itself will be a new venture and another avenue for their formidable academy to pursue. “At Red Bull we do a huge amount to give youth a chance and I think that applies not just to the drivers,” said Christian Horner. “It’s a good thing, anything that gives young drivers an opportunity to get some time.
“You hope that it’s based on merit rather than finance available, but I think it’s a positive thing to ensure that young drivers are getting a chance.” In a recent interview to Sport1, AlphaTauri chief Franz Tost noted that they are likely to run Liam Lawson in the Abu Dhabi test, while Red Bull is set to use the services of Juri Vips.
Beyond that for 2021, things haven’t been put into action. Moving on to Ferrari – another F1 outfit which doesn’t uses FP1 sessions for rookies – welcome the opportunity. They don’t have the most revered driver academy, but off-late they do boast a hunger to give this new rule a go and invest in their youth.
Having said that they have produced Charles Leclerc and more recently Mick Schumacher, but whether he makes it to the top remains to be seen. In fact, Ferrari has shared more details on their run plan, whereby they will identify only one driver for whatever the number of FP1 sessions they will have to run the F1 rookies.
“At first, as Ferrari, we welcome the opportunity to run the rookie in FP1,” said Mekies. “We have been investing in the younger generation for many different reasons, for a number of years so without so many testing opportunities it’s great to see that as a sport we have now the window to at least give them these FP1 opportunities.
“I tend to think that we will run only one driver because two sessions is still very little. We all know that it’s a very tough ask to a young driver, to get into a car in FP1, one hour, and to perform, so I think giving only one shot and not the two shots to whoever is going to probably be… is not the best way around, so I think the short answer to your question is probably going to be one driver only,” summed up Mekies.
Over at Alpine, who also boast of good number of youngsters, they have given FP1 chance to Guanyu Zhou recently, but not a proper F1 run. They welcome the decision, but haven’t thought about what and how they will plan the runs for their youngsters.
“First of all, we’re doing it already, so it’s not going to change an awful lot, this regulation, for us. We’ve run Guanyu Zhou, one of our F2 academy drivers, in Austria this year and we are looking at the opportunity to run him again in an FP1 session later this season, so obviously we welcome this regulation because we believe it’s the right thing to do, to develop young drivers,” said Marcin Budkowski.
“There’s very very few opportunities at the moment for young drivers to actually drive current F1 cars, let alone during a proper race weekend. To answer your question precisely, it depends what we do effectively next year with our young drivers and especially with the reserve driver role.
“Should we put one of our young drivers – academy drivers, if you want – that are currently competing in F2 as a reserve driver, then that’s the best way to actually prepare your reserve driver to step is, should he have to, if one of your main drivers can’t participate, it’s likely to be the same one but it doesn’t have to be.”
Its good to see all the top teams in favour of this rule for 2022 when in the past they would be reluctant to take the opportunity. Its all part of making F1 more inclusive and giving the rich talent below a chance to show their worth on merit. Whilst yes it takes away track time from your main guys, everyone will be in the same boat so the rookies will benefit no end.
The story was written by Ollie Pattas
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