For a lot of time now, Formula One teams have had the opportunity and possibility to run junior drivers on Friday practice sessions, but only a few have used it, with Williams and Alfa Romeo among the regulars. It has yet to be determined on how many weekends teams will have to run a rookie next year, but one complication is that it will have to be dovetailed with the sprint schedule, because for such events the first free practice session is actually the single chance for race drivers to run before qualifying.
“Friday running is coming in,” – British Formula One managing director, motor sports and technical director Ross Brawn explained – “On Friday, each team will have to run the first practice session with a rookie. And we’re being very careful about how we define a rookie. Let’s wait and see how we define it. I think it’s next year they’ll need to run a young driver on a Friday, every team a certain number of occasions.” – the former Ferrari boss added.
Asked about the lack of race seats for those drivers to progress to, Ross Brawn explained: “Look who we’ve seen come in, we’ve seen George [Russell] come in, Charles [Leclerc] come in, Max [Verstappen] come in, we’ve seen other drivers come in. So there is the opportunity there. It’s great to try and help, but I don’t think we’re lacking in young drivers coming through into Formula 1.” – he concluded.
Several teams do not have active young driver programmes, notably McLaren, and will therefore now have to begin a search for suitable candidates.