McLaren’s Carlos Sainz said he’d consider running in a ‘young drivers’ test at Abu Dhabi after the returning Fernando Alonso was permitted.
Sainz would, theoretically, complete the F1 test with Ferrari as Alonso has confirmed he will with Renault. The circumstances surrounding the latter’s outing have sparked controversy, though, for the apparent disregard of the tests original intent, which is to promote young drivers.
Critics argue that, although he shares the car with Formula 2’s Guanyu Zhou, this does little to compensate for the lack of youth representation in their test roster. Alonso allegedly stripping opportunity from youngsters has been a point of contention plaguing his F1 return before it has even begun.
In Ferrari’s case, Sainz argues that the Italian outfit – who recently promoted their junior driver Mick Schumacher to F1 – do enough to aid young talent already. The team have also given Robert Shwartzman and Antonio Fuoco testing opportunities for Abu Dhabi, but it’s possible that the team would concede some of the latter’s track time.
Sainz also said his contract allows him to participate in such a test. “I’m not going to say what we are going to do,” he said to media including F1, Motorsport Network, Racefans.net, Motorsport Week, BBC and more. “But I’m telling you that I’m very willing to be on that Abu Dhabi test, especially because my contract allows me to do so.
“I think it’s no secret, especially now that the hand has been opened a bit by the FIA for drivers that are not rookies, or not young drivers, to test, I don’t see why the FIA wouldn’t open the hand a bit also to all the drivers,” added Sainz, before clarifying that he does not intend to take an opportunity from a less experienced driver.
“Personally, I wouldn’t take any young driver out of the seat. I think Callum, Mick and Robert Shwartzman, I think they are still going to test, so if I jump into a Ferrari, I’m not going to not allow them to test, they’re going to still be testing. I think Ferrari is one of the teams that are promoting young drivers the most right now.
“So I don’t see why I shouldn’t also get the chance to test. I don’t know what’s going to happen to be honest, I don’t know what is the FIA’s decision, but you can tell that I’m going to try and be there as much as I can,” summed up Sainz.
Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo, who’ll replace Sainz at McLaren next year, poked fun at Alonso’s involvement in a young drivers test, which it was said the likes of Robert Kubica and Sebastien Buemi could also complete the test for Alfa Romeo and Red Bull respectively.
The Australian says participation was never an option for him given the terms of his contract. “From my side I was never going to participate,” said Ricciardo. “It was always from 2021 onwards, so I don’t really feel like personally I’ve lost out because it was nothing I ever expected to do.
“I think Fernando, obviously he’s been maintaining a lot of health and fitness. He looks in pretty good shape and pretty young. So, I think to the naked eye, he certainly passes as a young driver!” Ricciardo quipped.
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