George Russell, Williams, Albert Park, 2019

New practice rules will put rookies under too much pressure – Russell

2021 F1 season

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New rules requiring F1 teams to run rookie drivers in practice sessions from 2021 could put newcomers to the sport under too much pressure, says George Russell.

RaceFans has learned F1 bosses are planning a new rule which would require teams to use two of their Friday practice sessions to run a driver who has competed in no more than two grands prix.

Russell made his first two official appearances as an F1 driver for Force India in practice sessions at the end of 2017. Although he is in favour of giving more opportunities to rookie drivers, he isn’t keen on making such opportunities mandatory at all teams.

“I think it’s a great idea to try and give more track time to rookie drivers,” he said when asked by RaceFans. “But personally I think [this approach] is not a good idea.

“Going in for an FP1 session, doing 20 laps, these young drivers are going to come in and try to prove what they have. You just can’t do it without good experience. So if anything it’s going to drivers’ careers more harm than do them good.”

Russell is a Mercedes junior driver and has tested for the world champions. He said that gave him valuable experience of the constant travel which comes from being an F1 driver.

“I was reserve driver for Mercedes last year so I knew what it’s like to go to a number of races, that’s probably the most fatiguing part of it.”

What else are F1 bosses planning for 2021? And why could the sign-off of the new rules be postponed? Find out in today’s new RacingLines column on RaceFans

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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7 comments on “New practice rules will put rookies under too much pressure – Russell”

  1. Maybe it could be like a bunch of years ago when reserve drivers actually drove the car every weekend, then the reserve driver role would be much more important for developing the car, and a better springboard for new drivers since they get quite some seat time and car experience. I think its a better solution than throwing in to many youngsters.

  2. Let rookies run on Friday too, 1 or 2 sessions, during their first year. Problem solved.

    1. Yes only allow rookies or drivers with even less experience. But I would also like to see veterans of Motorsport drive FP1/2, what if Some guys from Formula E would be contracted to jump in?

      Much more can be done here.

      1. And Bring back the spare car so that they can go out without the teams fearing the loss of a race car for Saturday & Sunday! That would provide a ton of more experience to the teams.

  3. Now we’re only lacking power ups (Formula E style), “easter eggs” (for example, if a driver accidentally knocks a certain fence he could discover Nigel Mansell’s hidden cave or something, with collectable items), obligatory generic heavy metal music during broadcasts (or perhaps braver approach, say K-pop or whatever, for the sake of political correctness), movable obstacles on the track for greater challenge, operated by the audience (to generate new young(est) fans). Just in case, to avoid making things too irresponsible and “fun”, we should impose speed limits to make the sport safer (say 180 km/h, perhaps 100 in places like Monaco), as well as no overtake markings in more challenging sectors. Of course, all this only until F1 becomes F-E within ten or so years, with possibility of going virtual soon after with the all new iFormula series.

  4. Well I guess that will guarantee that the Friday session crowds at the track will thin out considerably. Or perhaps Sat/Sun only tickets will be the big sellers.

    I guess there’s some academic interest in seeing a bunch of rookies tooling around but if I’ve paid a pile of cash and travelled halfway around the world to see F1 drivers then that’s who I want to see.

    Put on a separate rookie session if you must but from me, a track ticket buying fan, it’s a no.

  5. Well given the rumours (or truth?) that the F1 management want to remove one or two practice sessions, or having set-ups locked down before Saturday, this could be problematic.

    Why not try and merge the two ideas together and have one Friday session, say FP1 on a dusty track but with less time, so that one car from each team can be used for a reserve/rookie driver to do shake downs, aero, and just general running and then have a FP2 session which could be made longer in which the two drivers can do set-up and race stints etc? That way rookies can get some track time and do the grunt work such as install laps, constant speed tests and have the added benefit of track cleaning whilst the stars can get on with doing laps and set-up work without having to do all that. That way rookies get chances in the car and learn the technical side whilst the star drivers get more uninterrupted driving, less time on track, and one session to perfect their set-up.

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