F1 teams set for mandatory rookie presence in FP1 in 2022

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F1 is finalizing a plan that would require all teams to run a "rookie" driver in selected FP1 sessions next season in a bid to provide young talents with track time.

The elimination of in-season testing in F1 since 2020, due mainly to the onslaught of the global pandemic, has deprived teams running junior programs of the opportunity to test young drivers in current-spec machinery.

F1 is seeking to mandate the inclusion of a rookie driver, as shall be defined by the regulations, in each team's line-up, although the number of events where this new rule would apply has yet to be decided.

"Friday running is coming in," said F1 managing director Ross Brawn.

"On Friday, each team will have to run FP1 with a rookie. And we're being very careful about how we define a rookie. Let's wait and see how we define it.

"I think it's next year they'll need to run a young driver on a Friday, every team a certain number of occasions."

Williams and Alpine have run Roy Nissany and Guanyou Zhou respectively in Friday's opening practice, while Alfa Romeo handed an FP session to Callum Ilott last year.

Alpine and Ferrari have also handed track time to their junior drivers in older-spec machinery.

However, McLaren and Aston Martin do not currently have active driver development programs. But the Woking-based outfit fully supports the mandatory running of young drivers in FP1.

"It's very hard for rookies nowadays with all the limited testing to get seat time," commented team boss Andreas Seidl, quoted by Motorsport.com.

"So we're very happy with that, and we are also in favour to promote this even further more. It is the discussion we are having with the others teams, the FIA and F1 going forward.

"I suppose we are looking into who we actually want to give the chance to be in our car for these sessions. That's a process that is ongoing at the moment."

Aston team principal Otmar Szafnauer is also onboard with the idea of putting young talent through their paces on Fridays.

"For sure it will benefit those who do have young driver programmes," said Szafnauer.

"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 on we have less and less testing, and how are they to get the experience they need."

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