F1 is set to introduce mandatory Friday FP1 time for young/rookie drivers for all the 10 teams, as some of them seem receptive of the idea.
F1 supremo Ross Brawn has outlined plans to introduce mandatory running for young drivers on Fridays from 2022 onward. Prior to this, teams have had the opportunity to run junior drivers on Friday, but only few took the option. It is about to become compulsory from next season onward. The actual number of race weekends is still to be confirmed.
Who can be termed as a rookie driver also remains to be sorted. One big reason for a number of F1 teams not running is because of life at the sharp end being so competitive, it is deemed something that “gets in the way” of the teams at the front of the grid. But the idea seems to be receptive from some of the F1 team bosses.
While the full details is still to be out, Haas’ Guenther Steiner had a mixed opinion about it. He naturally put it down that it isn’t possible this year, but for not next year, considering he has two relatively young drivers – he wouldn’t be adverse to it, but it isn’t something he is fan of. “Depends when it comes,” he said to media including FormulaRapida.net.
“In the moment, this year it wouldn’t be beneficial for us, but I don’t think it will happen this year anymore, otherwise if this is a way to evaluate new talent or something like this and because what is true if you think about it there is very little opportunity for a non-F1 driver to show what he can do or even sit in an F1 car because the tests are limited.
“So maybe this is something we should entertain, but I think we have to agree all of the teams, FIA together if this is the right way forward, but in general I wouldn’t be opposed, would I be a big fan of it? May as well not, but you know if it comes it comes,” summed up Steiner. On the other hand, Williams’ Dave Robson is a fan of it – not because they have taken up the option before, but in general too.
“I think if its beneficial for the sport, which I think it is, because at the moment, getting young drivers and giving opportunities is very difficult,” said Robson, when asked by FormulaRapida.net. “If it is the same for all the teams then it is absolutely fine. That’s the best thing for the sport, it is also something we are really used to doing over the last couple of years, so I see no problem.”
Among the front-runners, McLaren’s Andreas Seidl seemed receptive of it too. Even though, its been long since the team gave a FP1 opportunity, but the German is very much on with the idea. He even thinks, F1 should think of expanding it in the future and has no troubles in sitting out their regular drivers, even though 2022 will be crucial year.
“We were very supportive in putting mandatory sessions in place at the post-season tests or even during the season in practice sessions to allow rookies to do official test sessions,” said Seidl. “Its very hard for rookies nowadays with all the limited to get seat time. So we’re very happy with that, and we are also in favour to promote this even more.
“It is the discussion we are having with other teams, FIA and F1 going forward. I suppose we are looking into who we actually want to give the chance to be in our car for these sessions. That’s a process that is ongoing at the moment. Giving up Friday time, I am absolutely happy with that. Also makes sense that we introduce that gradually. Next year, we speak about 2 or 3 practice sessions so it’s a good first step.
“But I think moving forward we would also be happy to ramp this number of sessions up. Its good to have this also mandatory, so its in the end from a sporting perspective, the same for each team, and fair in the end. That’s why we were very supportive in putting that in place,” summed up Seidl.
Asgon Martin’s Otmar Szafnauer, meanwhile, is also in favour, feeling it is a very positive and the rookies can only benefit. “For sure, it will benefit those who do not have young driver programmes,” he said. “And for us, because we don’t, we prefer to make sure our drivers have maximum time in the car.
“However we’ve got to look at that from a holistic standpoint and feeding the sport with younger talent and coming up. It seems like as time goes on they have less and less testing, and how are they to get experience they need,” summed up Sazfnauer.
While the F1 midfield seems to be onboard, it also remains to be seen how Red Bull and Mercedes feel about it. If it is was the current year, Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton are fighting for the title like, would they have the time to afford this in FP1? They may have the time, but they may not want to avail of it as they would more contentious issues to hand.
At the same time it wont be every weekend. Alongside of this, the drivers (rookies) will of course benefit but also the teams themselves. You never know, the rookies may have have something to add that the teams other drivers have missed.
The story was written by Neil Farell
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