Better to be safe than sorry, as they say. And that certainly applies in the case of a Formula 1 team when it comes to having a contingency plan in the event that a driver becomes unavailable.
Any one driver is vulnerable to the unexpected or to circumstances at any given time during the season as several teams have experienced in the past few years.
F1 returnee Nico Hulkenberg was F1's super sub during the Covid period, replacing Sergio Perez and then Lance Stroll at Racing Point at three races in 2020.
The German was also called upon a year ago by the same team – in its Aston Martin guise - to sub for Covid-stricken Sebastian Vettel in the first tow round of 2022.
So there's no disputing the need for a team to have a man or two on the bench, just in case, as Aston realized once again last week following Stroll's cycling spill.
Teams typically label their backups as 'reserve' or 'third' drivers. While the former is usually an outfit's go-to substitute, the latter is usually entrusted with a development or testing role, like simulator work back at the factory or on race weekends.
Furthermore, teams affiliated with the same engine manufacturer will typically share the same reserve drivers. This is the case with McLaren which struck a deal with Mercedes to call upon Mick Schumacher if necessary.
Here's a rundown of each team's official roster of reserve drivers that will be standing in the wings this season.
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