With none of Formula 1’s rookies coming through the Imola weekend smiling, former F1 driver Marc Surer says they are paying the price for limited testing.
This year, Formula 1 had just three days of pre-season testing, which meant just a day-and-a-half in the car for all three rookies.
But while their teams, or in Mick Schumacher’s case Ferrari, gave them track time in the old cars, the trio have all blotted their copybooks.
The less said about Nikita Mazepin’s Bahrain debut, which ended after just a few corners in a crash, the better while Schumacher also had a spin in that race.
Yuki Tsunoda was the only one of the trio to be praised for his performance at the Sakhir circuit but it was a very different story at the next race, the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
He crashed heavily on his first flying lap at the start of qualifying before going on to spin in the grand prix, where he was also hit with a time penalty for track limit infringements.
As for Schumacher, he had a small crash while warming up his tyres behind the Safety Car, nose first into the barrier. Mazepin had a less eventful race but one that finished with the Moscow-born driver two laps down.
“The problem is the testing regulations,” Surer explained to Formula1News.co.uk. “How can you expect a young driver to settle into a car in one-and-a-half days?
“This is ridiculous for a young driver to get used to Formula 1 and feel confident in a car.
“Because three days testing with one car means one-and-a-half days is the maximum a driver can get. This is not how a World Championship should be organised.
“All three rookie drivers are making mistakes. I think it’s just wrong not to give them more time in the car in testing.”
Schumacher loses the rear end warming his tyres, and takes off the front wing
— Formula 1 (@F1) April 18, 2021
Surer was asked specifically about Mazepin, who had a nightmare Bahrain weekend but brought the car home at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
He was, however, the only driver two laps down on race winner Max Verstappen.
Surer simply said: “I’m not sure yet if he does belong in Formula 1.”