F1 reserve drivers: Who could get the call up in 2021?

As the global COVID-19 continues to linger around the world, F1 teams have devised contingency plans if a driver is sidelined by the coronavirus this season, or by any other unforeseen circumstance.

Last year, Sergio Perez, Lance Stroll and Lewis Hamilton all tested positive for COVID-19, a misfortune that led to eleventh hour outings for Nico Hulkenberg, George Russell and Jack Aitken, while Haas reserve Pietro Fittipaldi replaced Romain Grosjean in the final two races of the 2020 season following the Frenchman's horror crash in Bahrain.

Here's a team-by-team rundown of each team's potential back-up plans, because it's better to be safe than sorry.

Mercedes: The Brackley squad will officially rely on Formula E chargers Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries as substitutes this season. But the former McLaren driver was also on the team's books last year when Hamilton was forced into isolation, and yet the team opted to poach Russell from Williams for a one-off outing. It's unclear if such a scenario could pan out again in the future, but Russell surely wouldn't mind if it did.

Red Bull (and Alphatauri): All Red Bull drivers are theoretically interchangeable between the Milton Keynes-based outfit and sister team AlphaTauri. However, Alex Albon would be Red Bull's go-to driver if necessary.

McLaren: the Woking-based outfit has struck a deal with Mercedes to rely on its reserves if circumstances dictate a replacement. Vandoorne would no relish a chance to return to his former team but there were also vague talks earlier this month about McLaren putting F1 super-sub Nico Hulkenberg on its bench.

Aston Martin: Team Silverstone has not earmarked anyone as it reserve driver but like McLaren, Lawrence Stroll's team has an agreement with engine supplier Mercedes to use the latter's reserves. But here also, Hulkenberg, who entered three races with the rebranded Aston outfit last season, could be hanging at the back of the team's garage on race weekends.

Alpine: The French outfit's leading juniors Guanyou Zhou and Christian Lundgaard are unlikely candidates for an unexpected promotion given their lack of experience, which is why Alpine has contracted with former Red Bull driver Daniil Kvyat who recently said that he would pounce on any F1 opportunity that may come his way. Don't hold your breath Dany.

Ferrari: Alfa Romeo's Antonio Giovinazzi is the Scuderia's default reserve driver but slotting in the Italian in place of Charles Leclerc or Carlos Sainz would obviously require a few adjustments at Hinwil.

Alfa Romeo: Robert Kubica is onboard once again as the Swiss outfit's reserve, and the Pole is race-ready to replace either Giovinazzo or Kimi Raikkonen, just in caseā€¦

Haas: The US team recently confirmed Pietro Fittipaldi as its official substitute, a logical choice given the Brazilians two outings with the team last at Sakhir and Abu Dhabi, where Pietro did a competent job in difficult circumstances.

Williams: Jack Aitken will once again be on standby this season with the Grove-based outfit for whom he made his Grand Prix debut at Sakhir when incumbent George Russell was lent to Mercedes.

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Michael Delaney

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