Red Bull’s ‘little Prost’ admits to being ‘apprehensive’ ahead of F1 debut in Mexico

Jamie Woodhouse
The crowd watching on in the stadium section at the Mexico City Grand Prix.

The crowd watching on in the stadium section at the Mexico City Grand Prix.

As Red Bull junior Isack Hadjar prepares for his FP1 debut with AlphaTauri in Mexico, apprehension is creeping in.

The Formula 1 teams have headed to the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, where the return to the traditional race weekend format brings about opportunity for various young drivers.

With teams required to run a ‘rookie’ driver, defined as one with less than two grands prix of experience, in two FP1 session across a season, teams are making their moves at the Mexican Grand Prix.

Trepidation for Isack Hadjar as F1 debut looms

Current Formula 2 Championship leader Theo Pourchaire will represent Alfa Romeo in FP1 in Valtteri Bottas’ place, while Frederik Vesti, P2 in the standings, is in at Mercedes for George Russell.

Oliver Bearman represents Haas, Jack Doohan will drive for Alpine and Hadjar will take over Yuki Tsunoda’s AlphaTauri AT04 for FP1.

But, while Hadjar, labelled Red Bull’s “little [Alain] Prost” by driver programme boss Helmut Marko, is “super excited” to make his F1 debut, the magnitude of the occasion is also making him “apprehensive”.

“I’m super excited to be driving in FP1, but at the same time, I’m a bit apprehensive, as I’ve never driven a Formula 1 car,” he said.

“To do so for the first time at an official practice session for a Grand Prix is quite something.

“The team has not set me any targets, so I don’t feel under any particular pressure, and I think I’m as well prepared as I can be.”

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Hadjar revealed that following Daniel Ricciardo’s injury, the AlphaTauri driver suffering a broken hand in an FP2 crash at the Dutch Grand Prix, he found himself with a ramped-up schedule in the simulator to support the race team, significantly boosting his preparation to debut in Mexico.

“After Daniel was injured and Liam stepped in, I did a lot more work in the simulator to help the race drivers prepare, so I have a good understanding of how all the controls in the cockpit work,” Hadjar continued.

“I’ve spent time in Faenza getting to know the team, and the engineer who will work with me in FP1 was also with me at the sim, so we know one another already.

“The altitude in Mexico means this is an unusual track to drive with less downforce than usual, but I can’t wait to get in the car and do my best for the team.

“Since I started karting as a young child, I have dreamed of being in Formula 1, and I want to thank Scuderia AlphaTauri and Red Bull for giving me this great opportunity.”

Hadjar claimed his first F2 podium in the Austrian GP sprint race and a maiden victory in the Dutch GP sprint, though no points were awarded as the race was abandoned due to bad weather.

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