Stoffel Vandoorne, Mercedes, Formula E, Marrakech, 2020

Mercedes to share reserve drivers with McLaren

2020 F1 season

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Mercedes will make one of its reserve drivers available to McLaren if the team needs a substitute driver this year, RaceFans has learned.

Former McLaren driver Stoffel Vandoorne could therefore end up back at the wheel of one of the team’s cars if either Carlos Sainz Jnr or Lando Norris have to miss a race this year. Vandoorne made 41 race starts for McLaren between 2016 and 2018.

However Vandoorne also races for Mercedes in Formula E, which could limit his availability. Mercedes’ other reserve driver is Esteban Gutierrez, who previously raced in F1 for Haas and Sauber.

After confirming details of the first eight races on Formula 1’s heavily disrupted 2020 calendar, the sport’s chairman and CEO Chase Carey said on Tuesday grands prix will go ahead even if a driver is unable to participate due to a positive Covid-19 test. “If a driver has an infection, [teams have] reserve drivers available,” he said.

McLaren had a similar reserve driver arrangement with engine supplier Renault last year. Other teams also have arrangements to share reserve drivers: Alfa Romeo racer Antonio Giovinazzi is listed as one of Ferrari’s reserves, and Sebastien Buemi fulfils the reserve role at both Red Bull and its junior team AlphaTauri.

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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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22 comments on “Mercedes to share reserve drivers with McLaren”

  1. Seems the reserve pool is not that big, how many reserve drivers are there for all teams?

    1. @macleod Not many in general and not every single team necessarily has a direct reserve driver (at least not for every single event).

      1. And most of those reserve drivers that are mentioned are either VERY race rusty. Or have other racing obligations as well.

  2. As far as I know Sergio Sette Camara is also a reserve driver for Red Bull Racing and Alpha Tauri.

  3. If Lewis or Bottas need to be replaced and Stoffel has a Formula E race, he’s going to cry

    1. Was going to comment on the same line. Can he chose to race in F1 instead? That would be perceived as F1 is above FE but in the other hand, if he has the choice, difficult to not take a potential shot at F1 win… It might also depend on when it occurs and where Stoffel is in the standings. Seems like he could be a contender for the championship this year.

      Still feel he was the most unexploited talent of the last few years and I still believe he has much more to show. Ended up in a team at the wrong time, with the wrong teammate, no room/attention left for him.

      Feels like Alpha Tauri is the best place for development in F1

    2. Most of the Formula-E races take place on Saturdays so Stoffel might still have chance to rush back to F1 circuit on Sundays.

      1. @sb12 Off the top of my head, the rules state you can’t participate in the race if you weren’t entered into qualifying. That’s why Williams weren’t able to put in a substitute for Bottas at Melbourne five years ago.

        1. @keithcollantine True and the same with Massa in Hungary in 2009 although the car was also quite badly damaged.

    3. @krommenaas @jeanrien In this scenario, it’d more likely be Gutierrez who’d get the one-off chance.
      @sb12 That would depend on the distance. It would be difficult if the FE and F1-venues were on entirely different continents to each other.

    4. are there any FE races scheduled though?

      I had gotten the impression that they’d pretty much abandoned the idea of holding them this year.

  4. Stoffel Vandoorne could therefore end up back at the wheel of one of the team’s cars if either Carlos Sainz Jnr or Lando Norris have to miss a race this year.

    There’s a name that’s wrong in there… :)

    Unless in exchange for Mercedes’ silence on fuelgate they get to put one of their reserve drivers into a Ferrari :)

    1. Eh, just realized it’s for this year, not 2021.

    2. @phylyp I think you’re getting ahead of yourself. Sainz isn’t at Ferrari until 2021.

      1. @dbradock – yeah, I realized it just a tick before you :)

  5. I find it strange how, with how tough Red Bull can be with drivers, that they still retain Buemi 8/9 years since he last drove for Torro Rosso. He’s clearly a very good driver and has had great results outside of F1, it just surprises me that Red Bull still sponsor and retain him for their F1 teams when they’ve had so many other drivers go through their programme in that period.

  6. I guess one of the issues they (teams) face is that not many drivers have a current Superlicense…. Reserve drivers used to mainly be the ‘new’ young up and coming guys/girls but the FIA changed the rules to make it much more difficult to obtain said license and the ‘reserve’ role is an area that has suffered.

  7. Lando doing one shot at Indy?

    1. Probably a COVID-19 contingency, if one of them gets infected.

  8. I wonder if Mercedes-Benz are thinking about winding down and are making preparations for returning to the marital bed as engine supplier only.

    1. I had similar thoughts reading the title. Hopefully they’ll sell their team (members, HQ, etc) so we won’t lose two cars from the grid.

  9. Get rid of team car limits. And allow customer cars.

    Cut all of the fat off the F1 circus. It wont survive in its current form.

    If the F1 season goes ahead as scheduled, we are all a lot more stuffed than we thought.


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