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Tuesday, November 28, 2023

F1 groups dealing with rookie FP1 scheduling headache

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The FIA guidelines specify that each race driver has to surrender an FP1 session for a rookie who has began not more than two grands prix.

Nonetheless, a race driver who’s a rookie at the beginning of the season is deemed to qualify, which signifies that Oscar Piastri with McLaren, Logan Sargeant with Williams and Nyck de Vries with AlphaTauri all ticked the field once they took half in FP1 on the opening race of the season.

Unusually, no different rookies accomplished an FP1 run within the first half of 2023, in distinction to final yr, when Williams with de Vries and Pink Bull with Juri Vips took the chance in Barcelona.

Which means there are nonetheless 17 rookie slots to be crammed within the final 10 races, and the one session officially confirmed thus far is for Frederik Vesti with Mercedes in Mexico.

The problem the groups face in scheduling FP1 classes is that the run of 10 races is successfully solely seven.

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The Qatar, Austin and Interlagos occasions are all dash weekends, with FP1 adopted by qualifying for Sunday’s grand prix, making it inconceivable for groups to run a rookie.

Of the remaining seven, a number of others additionally contain compromises of 1 type or one other.

Singapore and Las Vegas are avenue tracks with an apparent excessive danger of incidents and it makes little sense to area a rookie, particularly on the latter, which is a model new venue that the race drivers should be taught.

As well as Zandvoort, Monza and Abu Dhabi all host FIA F2 races. Groups are typically reluctant to permit their junior drivers to be distracted by F1 working on the identical weekend as F2, particularly if they’re nonetheless preventing for championship positions and probably an F1 tremendous licence.

The present prime seven contenders on this yr’s F2 championship are all junior drivers of F1 groups and thus potential FP1 contenders, particularly Theo Pourchaire (Alfa), Vesti (Mercedes), Ayumu Iwasa (Pink Bull), Jack Doohan (Alpine), Victor Martins (Alpine), Oliver Bearman (Ferrari) and Enzo Fittipaldi (Pink Bull).

Jack Doohan, Alpine A522

Photograph by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

The issues about doubling up imply that Zandvoort and Monza are unlikely to see F2 drivers in FP1 motion, and the F1 Friday run programme in Italy is additional sophisticated as a result of it’s another tyre allocation weekend.

Nonetheless, it is inevitable that a number of groups should use the Abu Dhabi finale as their final likelihood regardless of the class conflict, which was the case in 2022, when 5 fielded F2 contenders.

The FP1 working additionally serves as a part of the build-up to the next week’s rookie take a look at on the identical venue.

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Such issues don’t influence F1 reserves who usually are not at the moment racing in F2, thus giving their groups extra flexibility.

That record contains Felipe Drugovich at Aston Martin, Pietro Fittipaldi at Haas, and Tremendous System racer Liam Lawson at Pink Bull/AlphaTauri, whose solely conflict is with the Mexican GP.

The remaining two tracks on the 2023 schedule are Suzuka and Mexico Metropolis, and even they contain some compromise in that Pirelli is planning to run its prototype 2024 tyres on Friday at each venues.

As well as, the tough nature of Suzuka and the sturdy probability of climate disruptions signifies that it’s not often used for FP1 classes.

Nonetheless, Pink Bull famously put teenage rookie Max Verstappen in a Toro Rosso in 2014, and the Faenza crew additionally ran Honda protege Naoki Yamamoto there in 2019.

Given his Suzuka expertise, Lawson may very well be a logical candidate for Pink Bull, whereas Iwasa – who competed in Japanese F4 at Suzuka earlier than he went to Europe – could be an apparent PR coup for AlphaTauri and Honda on the identical occasion.

That leaves simply Mexico as a monitor that, as already recognised by Mercedes with Vesti, is a comparatively easy location for rookie working, even with the Pirelli testing. Thus like Abu Dhabi, the weekend is prone to see a flurry of rookie exercise.

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