Teams scrambling to satisfy major FIA ruling before F1 2023 concludes

Jamie Woodhouse
Start of the 2023 Belgian Grand Prix.

View from behind of a grand prix start.

Teams look likely to be forced into a compromise somewhere as they plot where to fulfil the rookie driver running as per FIA requirement.

In a rule which first came into force for the 2022 campaign, each team must run a rookie driver, defined as a racer with two or less grands prix of experience, for two FP1 sessions during a season.

Both drivers in a team must give up their seat to a rookie, rather than one driver being allowed to sit out both times.

Teams plotting where to tick box on FIA rule

With the F1 2023 campaign now 12 races old, and a busy run of 10 race weekends in 14 weeks to blast through to complete it, many teams are seeing time tick away to get the rookies in the car, with 17 outings still unaccounted for.

While no rookie per say has appeared in an FP1 this season, a sub-rule meant the fact that Oscar Piastri and Logan Sargeant came into F1 2023 as rookies, while Nyck de Vries had made only one prior race start before linking up with AlphaTauri, meant they accounted for three spots by contesting the Bahrain season-opener.

Formula 1 now though is reaching the back end of the European stage, and so while Zandvoort and Monza on paper seem like ideal opportunities, Formula 2, where the title contenders are all F1 team-affiliated, runs at both rounds, which will likely put teams off FP1 outings as not to disrupt their rhythm.

We do know that one of those juniors, Mercedes’ Frederik Vesti, will be appearing in FP1 at the Mexico City GP in the place of George Russell, which may give a strong clue on where other teams could look to follow suit, considering venues like Singapore, Japan and the debuting Las Vegas in this stretch to the F1 2023 finish line do not represent ideal rookie outing material.

Let us then take a run through all 10 teams for a status update on their rookie plans, and where there are gaps to be filled, pick out which driver is most likely to fill it. recommends

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Red Bull (two rookie slots remaining)

Top contender: Liam Lawson

Currently going for the Super Formula title, Lawson would be expected to fill the Red Bull rookie outings, though Mexico is not an option as that clashes with the final Super Formula round.

Red Bull therefore could look to draft in the likes of Ayumu Iwasa, also of the Junior Team, meaning their plans are rather flexible.

Mercedes (one)

Top contender: Frederik Vesti

Already set to partake in FP1 at the Mexico City GP, expect Mercedes to drop in another outing for Vesti before F1 2023 is over.

Aston Martin (two)

Top contender: Felipe Drugovich

The Aston Martin reserve driver and reigning F2 champ is almost certain to account for Aston Martin’s pair of FP1 outings, though it remains to be seen how his rumoured Andretti Formula E switch could impact that.

Ferrari (two)

Top contender: Oliver Bearman

Currently P6 in the F2 Championship, Ferrari will likely turn to their star pupil Bearman, but should they want to use an FP1 outing at Zandvoort, Monza or Abu Dhabi for example when Bearman will be on F2 duties, they may call upon their reserve driver Robert Shwartzman.

McLaren (one)

Top contender: Pato O’Ward

Considering the ongoing McLaren-Alex Palou dispute, O’Ward will most likely take that final FP1 spot, since reserve driver Mick Schumacher is far too experienced for the job.

Alpine (two)

Top contender: Victor Martins

Alpine are likely going to need to fit their FP1 outings around the remaining F2 rounds, with Martins likely to get the nod, though don’t rule out the prospect of them sharing between Martins and fellow F2 competitor Jack Doohan, also an Alpine Academy member.

Williams (one)

Top contender: Frederik Vesti

The Danish racer may be set for a very busy end to his season, as he is the obvious candidate for Williams to call upon alongside Mercedes to fill their final FP1 spot.

Haas (two)

Top contender: Pietro Fittipaldi

While Shwartzman and Bearman are both in the mix considering Haas’ Ferrari links, it is most likely they will turn to their reserve driver Fittipaldi, who has not raced in Formula 1 since his two Haas outings in 2020 to cover for the injured Romain Grosjean.

Alfa Romeo (two)

Top contender: Theo Pourchaire

Another team with the F2 calendar to think about, but the Championship leader and Sauber junior Pourchaire would feel extremely hard done by if it was not he who took care of Alfa Romeo’s two FP1 outings.

AlphaTauri (one)

Top contender: Liam Lawson

If Red Bull are going to choose between Lawson and Iwasa and where they end up in representing their two teams, then Lawson it feels is the more likely to fill the last AlphaTauri FP1 slot, considering he is a contender to race for them in F1 2024.

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