F1 approves compulsory practice running for young drivers

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 19: The cars wait to go out in the Pitlane during qualifying for the Australian Formula One Grand Prix at Albert Park on March 19, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Mark Thompson/Getty Images

F1’s managing director Ross Brawn has confirmed that teams will be obligated to run young drivers in free practices next year. Recently, the idea of running rookies in practice has exploded. Now, F1 is clearly making a statement of the direction they wish to take.

In the past, up-and-coming drivers had minimal driving opportunities in Formula 1. After all, currently, there are only 20 seats available in the sport. Knowing the level of F1’s finest drivers, many lower category drivers never get the opportunity in the sport.

Previous rumors suggested that teams will be obliged to ensure young drivers’ running in every Grand Prix. However, that’s hardly possible, and Ross Brawn confirmed F1 will provide runs over a “certain number of occasions.”

“Friday running is coming in. On Friday, each team will have to run FP1 with a rookie. I think it’s next year they’ll need to run a young driver on a Friday, every team a certain number of occassions.”

“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.”

Ross Brawn

Teams will have to adapt to the new rule

Some teams have expansive youth academy programs, like Ferrari and Red Bull. For example, championship leader Max Verstappen is the jewel of Red Bull’s academy program. Next year, Mercedes academy driver George Russell will fill in instead of Valtteri Bottas.

Despite this, some teams don’t have a youth program. Aston Martin team, for example, is one of them. Team boss Otmar Szafnauer commented that the team would have to adapt and take different approaches. Perhaps this will serve the team well, considering Sebastian Vettel is 34 years of age.

“For sure, it will benefit those who do have young driver programs. And, for us, because we don’t, we prefer to make sure our drivers have the maximum time in the car. However, we’ve got to look at it from a holistic standpoint and feeding the sport with younger talent and coming up.

“It seems like as time goes we have less and less testing, and how are they to get the experience they need.”

Aston Martin Boss Otmar Szafnauer

Formula 1 spectacle will resume on September 26th. In the 15h Grand Prix of the year, Sochi will host the Russian Grand Prix. Valtteri Bottas will look to secure his first victory of the season on a track he often dominated. In the drivers’ championship, the battle between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton continues.

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