Formula One houses some of the very best motorsport drivers on the planet, but as Sebastian Vettel’s retirement reinforces, none can be around forever.
That means a continual emphasis from every team within F1 to develop potential future faces of the sport in their own way, such as through Alpine’s academy setup or Red Bull’s sprawling racing empire.
Regulations in Formula One’s 2022 season also dictate that both named drivers in each team have to allow one free practice session each to a rookie in their car, aiding their experience and on-track mileage in fully functioning F1 vehicles.
Those rookies are effectively any driver who has started two Grands Prix or fewer, with Ferrari the latest to confirm their own plans in this regard: former F2 racer Robert Shwartzman, their test and reserve driver, will be taking to the track in the second half of the season. The 22-year-old will drive under an Israeli flag, with Russian athletes currently banned.
“For us, it’s Robert Shwartzman that will do our two FP1s,” Laurent Mekies of Ferrari told the media.
“We haven’t exactly decided on which events it’s going to be, [but] you are right in saying that you would not pick races like Singapore or races where the race drivers need more running. I don’t think we have an issue in doing it during one of the weekends where we have Pirelli testing.”
As such, Shwartzman looks set to replace Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz in FP1 sessions ahead of different races in the second half of the season, joining the likes of Nyck de Vries and the now-dropped Juri Vips in getting a taste of elite action.
Full list of teams and rookie drivers in 2022 FP sessions
Red Bull: Juri Vips replaced Sergio Perez before the Spanish Grand Prix in May, but saw his contract terminated as reserve driver after using racist language on a live stream in June. Liam Lawson is likely the alternative if there is space in the schedule for him to fill in with AlphaTauri too.
Ferrari: As above, Robert Shwartzman is confirmed to be joining FP1 sessions in the second half of the season. Antonio Giovinazzi, driving in Formula E in 2022, is also a reserve but he does not qualify as a rookie.
Mercedes: 2021 Formula E champion Nyck de Vries filled Lewis Hamilton’s seat in FP1 at the French Grand Prix. The 27-year-old still harbours F1 ambitions but Toto Wolff hinted Mercedes may have to let him go for that to happen.
Alpine Renault: Sporting director Alan Permane said not too long ago that Oscar Piastri would run in either Spa or Monza, but that was before the 21-year-old released a statement rejecting Alpine’s announcement that he would be in place as their F1 driver next season. No change to those plans has yet been announced.
McLaren: Pato O’Ward and Colton Herta are the main options. The latter did a test day in Portugal last month but it’s the Mexican who team CEO Zak Brown namechecked last year as a potential FP1 runner. There’s an agreement with Alpine too, to share Piastri on a race weekend if needed...but perhaps that depends on where the youngster has already decided his future lies.
Alfa Romeo: Zhou Guanyu’s first race of the season in Bahrain actually counted as one seat, since this was his rookie campaign. Teenager Theo Pourchaire was the most likely candidate for the other, but clashes with his F2 weekends have made it difficult to arrange. USA or Mexico are possible races for his involvement.
Haas: Last year team principal Guenther Steiner said Haas would pick from the Ferrari pool, but reserve driver Pietro Fittipaldi is also an option as he has an allowed two Grands Prix starts to his name.
AlphaTauri: Lawson was named back in February as the driver from Red Bull’s pool of talent who would step up to fill FP sessions with AlphaTauri, though as noted he could now also replace Vips in the main team’s seat for the second practice switch. He’s currently set to run in Spa in the first Grand Prix back after the break with AT.
Aston Martin: Mercedes’ Frederik Vesti has been mentioned as a possible runner here, as they don’t have an academy of their own. No confirmation has yet been forthcoming over their plans.
Williams: The aforementioned De Vries actually made his F1 bow in Barcelona earlier this season, replacing Alex Albon. American F2 driver Logan Sargeant is another option.