F1 rules state that two of the four test days for the year must be given over to young drivers. And with many of the teams having run their race drivers at the Bahrain session earlier in the year, it means this week will feature numerous lesser-known names. Here’s a quick guide…
George Russell will drive the world champions’ F1 W08 on both days, as he gets his first F1 outing. The Briton, aged 19, is a member of Mercedes’ junior driver programme and is this year competing in GP3, where he currently heads the standings. You will also see Valtteri Bottas on track on Tuesday, but he will be conducting a tyre development programme with Pirelli, and not Mercedes team work.
Sebastian Vettel is expected to drive one day, with the other going to Charles Leclerc. The 19-year-old from Monaco was GP3 Series champion in 2016 and is running away with the 2017 F2 championship after five wins already this season. He first tested with Ferrari last year, as well as making four Friday practice outings with the Ferrari-powered Haas team. He is also a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy.
A relatively experienced line-up here, with Max Verstappen in action on day one, followed by Red Bull stablemate Pierre Gasly on day two. The 21-year-old Frenchman, last year’s GP2 champion, has tested several times for both Red Bull and Toro Rosso, including the former in Bahrain in April. This year he is competing in the Super Formula series in Japan, where his best finish to date has been a fifth place.
Cockpit time will be shared on both days by Russia’s Nikita Mazepin and Austria’s Lucas Auer. F3 Euro racer Mazepin, 18, has been with the team for over a year and first tested with them at Silverstone last July. For Auer, it will mark his F1 debut, and a return to single-seaters, the 22-year-old having been in DTM since 2015. He is currently enjoying a successful campaign there with Mercedes, lying third in the 2017 standings.
As Felipe Massa recovers from his dizzy spells over the weekend, team mate Lance Stroll will be at the wheel on Tuesday, before handing over to Italian F2 racer Luca Ghiotto, who makes his F1 debut aged 22. Runner-up in the 2015 GP3 Series, Ghiotto has been a regular front-runner in F2 this year, finishing all but one race inside the top 10.
Tuesday sees another F1 outing for Sean Gelael, the F2 driver from Indonesia who made his test debut with Toro Rosso in April. The 20-year-old from Jakarta will then make way for team racers Carlos Sainz and Daniil Kvyat, who are expected to share Wednesday’s driving duties.
The team’s F1 development driver Santino Ferrucci gets exclusive access to the VF-17 in Hungary. The 19-year-old American from Woodbury, Connecticut racked almost 1,000 F1 test kilometres last year and this season is racing in Formula 2.
Expect Renault to be the centre of the media’s attention on Wednesday as 2008 Canadian Grand Prix winner Robert Kubica (pictured top) gets his first outing in a 2017 F1 car, following his recent tests with the team in older machinery. Preceding the Pole on Tuesday will be Nicholas Latifi, the 22-year-old Canadian who signed as Renault test driver last year and who took his first F2 victory at Silverstone recently.
Stoffel Vandoorne is the reference point here on Tuesday, and the man looking to match the Belgian’s marker on Wednesday will be McLaren Young Driver Programme member Lando Norris. The 17-year-old Briton is currently enjoying a successful rookie season in the FIA F3 Euro series, lying third in the standings after three wins and 10 podiums to date.
Two fresh faces here. On Tuesday it will be that of Austrian F2 racer Gustav Malja, the 21-year-old Swede who made his first F2 podium appearance earlier this year. And on Wednesday it’s the turn of Japan’s Nobuharu Matsushita. Like Malja, it will be his first F1 test, and like Malja, the 23-year-old is racing in F2 this season, where he currently lies sixth in the standings after two wins to date in 2017.
Formula1.com will, of course, bring you news, reports and images from the Budapest test, so be sure to check back regularly over the coming days.