2021 regulations to offer more opportunities for young drivers
Following the news that next year’s pre-season testing period is to be two days shorter, and in-season testing dropped, there had been concerns young drivers would have fewer opportunities to get time behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car and thus hamper their chances of stepping up – but the 2021 rules have moved to make provisions for that…
In 2019, teams were required to run young drivers for at least two of the four days of in-season testing, but they were not obliged to do so in Friday free practice sessions - where from 2020 drivers can earn points towards their Formula 1 super licence - or pre-season testing.
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But from 2021 – as part of the dramatic rules shake-up – teams must use a young driver for one or two days during the sole, three-day, in-season test, which will take place after a Grand Prix at a track as yet to be determined.
From 2021 teams must run a young driver in at least two FP1 sessions over the course of a season
More importantly, all teams are allowed to run non-race drivers in either one of the two Friday practice sessions from 2021, but they must run a young driver in at least two FP1 sessions over the course of a season.
Some teams, such as Williams, already fulfil that criteria. However, teams like Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren have not traditionally done so.
What defines a ‘young driver’? Well, it’s not really to do with age - it’s a racer who is in possession of an International A Licence and has not competed in more than two F1 World Championship races during their career.
Drivers who are parachuted in for free practice sessions can earn an additional point per Grand Prix towards their super licence, providing they complete at least 100km.
It may not sound like a lot, but those extra points could prove crucial as young drivers bid to secure 40 across three seasons before being granted an F1 super licence.