Fernando Alonso, Renault, Bahrain International Circuit, 2020

Sainz, Vettel and others barred from joining Alonso at Young Drivers Test

2020 F1 season

Posted on

| Written by and

Carlos Sainz Jnr and other drivers who are joining new teams for the 2021 F1 season have been told they cannot join Fernando Alonso in participating in next week’s Young Drivers Test.

Renault revealed last week that the 39-year-old two-times F1 champion, who has started over 300 grands prix, has been given permission to take part in the test on December 15th.

The FIA sporting regulations state the Young Drivers Test is not open to drivers who “have competed in more than two F1 world championship races during their career… unless otherwise approved by the FIA.”

News of the dispensation granted to Alonso prompted several teams who have signed new drivers for 2021 to request the opportunity to run them at next week’s test. Sainz, who will move from McLaren to Ferrari, said at last week’s Sakhir Grand Prix he would take advantage of the opportunity to drive the SF1000 if it was available.

Other drivers changing teams for next year include Sebastian Vettel, who is joining Racing Point, and Daniel Ricciardo, who is heading to McLaren, though they have previously said they will not take part in the test.

In an email to teams seen by RaceFans, FIA Formula 1 race director Michael Masi confirmed the dispensation Alonso has received will not be extended to his rivals who are joining new teams for 2021.

Masi told teams that “for drivers who have participated in more than two F1 races in their career, the FIA’s approval, under Article 10.5 b) ii), will be subject to the condition that they have not competed in any Formula 1 races during the 2020 season.”

The clarification leaves open the opportunity for other teams to run experienced F1 drivers who did not race this year, such as Red Bull’s reserve driver Sebastien Buemi and Mercedes’ Stoffel Vandoorne.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2020 F1 season

Browse all 2020 F1 season articles

74 comments on “Sainz, Vettel and others barred from joining Alonso at Young Drivers Test”

  1. This is a yoke!


    1. This is pretty standard Alonso business really. Gets away with whatever he does and even gets others penalised if he wants.

      1. How did you make that up?

        1. Clearly you haven’t been following F1 for very long.

      2. Jelle van der Meer (@)
        9th December 2020, 14:21

        +1 like being angry at Vitaly Petrov for not being able to overtake him I think back in 2012 and obviously his dirty tactics during Hungary and Brazil 2007 and who can forget crashgate in Singapore.

        1. Hungary of course but what did he do in Brazil?

          1. The slightest hint of a brake test, might be. I wouldn’t call it dirty. But it totally desestabilized and ruined his rival’s race. Well done.

            On the other hand, you may think what you want but no one has shown the slightest evidence of Alonso’s guilt in the Crashgate.

            And for the Hungary qualy, well the other guy was not exactly innocent, but got away with it.

      3. That’s crazy… Alonso getting away with everything? Have you watch F1 for more than just the last 3 months? Crazy stuff. A lot of people are still sore about 2007. Get over it.

  2. Making the rules up as they go.

  3. Turn his cap backwards and arrive on a skateboard, popping bubblegum, nobody will ever know.

    1. “How do you do, fellow kids?”

      1. “Dad!!!!!! This is MY F1 test!!!!!”

      2. hey mick how did you like the f3000 cars?

    2. And wear those fancy early 2000s “fast” sunglasses

  4. I don’t have a problem Alonso getting some testing in. Very petty to think it gives him some kind of unfair advantage.

    1. It does give Renault an unfair advantage. His feedbacks will be valuable and may mean a tenth or two of car performance next year. Unfair potential advantage.

      1. @f1mre He’ll be driving a car that will soon have flooring removed to take away downforce for next year, some of which the team(s) will try to claw back with other alterations, but the point being this ‘refresher’ day for FA will be in an old car.

    2. As the rules also state that the cars can only be developed a relatively small amount he effectively gets to do miles in the car for next year .. how is that not an unfair advantage? It’s completely ridiculous. They should demand he uses last year’s car or something. Than it might be considered fair.

      1. Or demo tyres. Or just simply do not let a 40-year-old double world champion participate in a young drivers’ test. He is free to test last year’s Renault from 1st January anyway. He just steals the opportunity from a youngster to whom it may be a chance of a lifetime…

    3. Thats not the point at all. They could have put him in that car every FP session…

    4. If it’s not advantageous to some degree, they wouldn’t do it.

      1. @bradders Sure it’s a small advantage for FA to drive a current car and get a bit familiar with it and relate it to the simulator, but in terms of some unfair advantage over the rest of the field for next year? That’s ridiculous. It won’t even be the same car nor likely tires either. It will just allow him a clearer bit of thought during the off-season as to how the current car feels, but beyond that he’ll be experiencing the new Renault at next year’s pre-season test just like all the other drivers will, and dealing with new tires and a car that has had a chunk of floor taken out and will not feel like the current car does.

        Further to that though, if there was some significant advantage over the rest of the field for FA or Renault being able to do this one day test, then the FIA simply wouldn’t have agreed to the request.

        1. Clearer thought is an advantage.

          Are the other drivers getting the same dispensation? No.

          1. @bradders They don’t need it as they’ve just run a season in the current cars and on the current tires.

  5. Creating yet more rules on the fly is no way to run F1. It gives the impression that the dispensation for Alonso was, well, specially for Alonso.

    1. Fernando’s Improbable Assistance.

  6. That just shows the power of Fernando Alonso! As well as how badly Liberty Meida and the FIA want him back shown by what the willing to do for him!
    – Allowing Alonso to take part in the Young Drivers Test
    – Keeping the date of the Indy 500 free (I know Alonso said he wont take part & probably he’s not directly the reason here). But remember if Alonso goes and takes part i stuff like Indy, Le Mans, whatever it raises the profile of F1 as a whole & will attract more viewers. So im sure this played a little part in the date of the Indy 500 being kept free!
    – Also pretty obvious that the Spanish Grand Prix was renewed just because of his return. I mean how did a race go from about to dropped of the calendar (because it was initally only going to be on the calendar for 2020 and then be dropped) to being an essential on the F1 calendar… Simply down the mass popularity & following Alonso has in Spain… I mean he’s popular than F1 itself in Spain

    Anyways cant wait to see him back! F1 needs guys like him, Hamilton, Verstappen…. Brilliant drivers on the track with the right amount of arrogance of it! The last thing F1 needs is to get stuck with some of the PR robot drivers of the new generation. Mazepin seems like he’s got the attitude like those 3 but maybe not the talent

    1. It makes sense for other reasons than Alonso to schedule races around Indy. There is also a long tradition of F1 drivers driving in the event and it’s been like 10 years since this has been possible without missing Monaco.

      1. @ryanoceros yep, I think it is good, and it certainly seems valid, that the FIA tries to keep F1 from clashing as much as possible with (iconic) races from other series (which Ecclestone more or less on purpose worked against to stop them getting attention, let’s not forget!).

      2. Long tradition of f1 drivers racing at indy? More like a long forgotten tradition, and only because it was a race held in the f1 world championship in 50s and 60s. How many contracted f1 drivers have raced in indy since?

    2. Also remember when a WEC round’s date was moved as it clashed with a GP, just so that he could take part in both and win the WEC title?

      1. Exactly! Would that have been say for a Nico Hulkenberg? Or a Sergio Perez? I don’t think so….

    3. @fish123 @ryanoceros @bosyber @hunocsi @kpcart
      Merely a coincidence how the provisional schedule for next year looks like. I doubt there was an attempt not to have the Monaco GP on the same weekend any more than before. It merely has happened. Monaco had May 24 for this year before getting called off, so it’s the same part of the month for next year. Baku’s return to June has a slight impact, but nothing deeper than this. Monaco GP and Indy 500 never even directly clash anyway due to the time difference. The same with the Canadian GP and Le Mans 24H.

      1. Well technically with the flight time and all pre checks it would be impossible for anyone to race in both… Especially considering they would have no practice… Even for a driver as good as Alonso that’s to much.

        But by having them on different weekends it allows him to get in around 2 days of practice before racing (provided someone else Qualifies the car as Zak Brown had previously suggested he would be open to)….

    4. @fish123 the whole “Indy 500” situation doesn’t really make much sense though, as the qualifying sessions still clash with other F1 races.

      Furthermore, the traditional date for the Monaco GP is the fourth weekend in May, with the 23rd May 2021 fitting that pattern. Over the last two decades, the Monaco GP has been held on the fourth weekend of May 17 times – so, it would have been more of a surprise if the Monaco GP hadn’t been on the 23rd May 2021.

    5. Like him or not, I think F1 fans should be happy he’s back. For all the things people hate about Alonso one thing he can’t be accused of is being boring. Whether on or off track. If he’s anywhere near as capable as he was in 2018, he will be outstanding in that Renault next year.

      1. That his 100% true… As long as Alonso is in F1 there will be fantastic competition & some great off track drama!

  7. Can open, worms everywhere!

  8. Masi told teams that “for drivers who have participated in more than two F1 races in their career, the FIA’s approval, under Article 10.5 b) ii), will be subject to the condition that they have not competed in any Formula 1 races during the 2020 season.”

    The clarification leaves open the opportunity for other teams to run experienced F1 drivers who did not race this year, such as Red Bull’s reserve driver Sebastien Buemi and Mercedes’ Stoffel Vandoorne.

    Clarification is that what they call one rule for some and another for the rest? I’m a little surprised that Ferrari didn’t us their influence to get Sainz a drive.

    1. Teams should make this an ‘Old drivers’ test’ as a protest. Fisichella-Ferrari, Rosberg-Mercedes, Buemi-Red Bull, Button-McLaren, di Resta-Racing Point, Massa-Williams, Vergne-AlphaTauri, Kobayashi-Sauber and someone at Haas.

      1. Webber at Red Bull. Even better.

        1. Yes, he was totally useless.. look at what we know now, now we know how bad Vettel is

          1. Vettel was great at Red Bull, better than he is now, he was on fire and won 4 championships, dont forget it. True legend of the sport.

          2. And no, no legend, the most lucky guy ever. Should have won zero without that RB car. After Gosjeans accident he might however move to nr 2 on the luckiest F1 driver of all time list

      2. Kobayashi is only 34, Vergne is only 30, Buemi is 32.
        The difference is that the Vettel and Sainz are active drivers at F1, while the others are not.
        As such exceptions had already happened at the Young Drivers Test. The reasoning is at about acceptable in the case of a dricer who was outside F1 for at least a few seasons. althoguh I don’t like making an exception for Fernando, if he can take the rust off and aged well, then he will be good enough, otherwise his return might turn out to be a failure. (I’d prefer some success for him for the sake of better racing, instead of 2 seasons of whining.)

        As far as I know, Sainz, and Alonso are close and good friends, so I consider the effort that Vettel, and Sainz (etc.) are trying to join to the Young Drivers Test as an appeal, or protest. But as the relationship is good between them, it’s probably aimed at the decision and rule makers. So I consider it slightly funny, some kind of trolling, as
        jumping this kind of “let’s all join and test with Fernando” bandwagon. So I expect some good sense of humour here, even if hey are trying to perserve their competitive egde, and even if they are trying to do the right thing.

        1. Sadly many typos, and higher order errors here. I just had a hard time with being expressive at this topic, rewrote it quite much, and not reread it with sufficient care.

          Probably instead of some binary criterias to determine the eligibility for a young driver test, or a superlicese, there could be a points system, and a threshold of course. I mean binary criterias can be judged by their definition, and the definition can be easily attacked at some kind of court. If the criterias would be assembled of more quantified parts, like : points based on mileage in F1 cars in the recent some seasons, points for having an F1 seat in the recent some seasons, points for being a test/reserve driver. The points given are inversely proportional to time passed since the existence of the previously mentioned or other similar circumstances. Sum the points, and find an appropriate threshold.

          For the upcoming young driver test it looks like that a precedent is made, and the teams are plugging in many of their former, reserve, or test drivers, a bit more than usually, and they will use it as a not so young driver test.

      3. Well, Alfa romeo is having Kubica in the car for the test. And i think it’s already been confirmed that Red bull are going to have Buemi. Mercedes probably Vandoorne – which might also be a reason they did not want to give Stoffel the drive last weekend, since then he would not qualify anymore?

      4. I mean i don’t get the point here… If it’s allowed obviously teams would run more experienced drivers if possible… Its not a form of protest but marely a way for better development.

        Vandoorne Mercedes
        Buemi Red Bull
        Wehrlein/Hartley Ferrari

    2. @johnrkh I imagine he is contracted to McLaren until 31st December, so would need to be released even if Ferrari did get dispensation.

    3. @johnrkh Not sure why you think they should make a special rule for Sainz. He has driven in at least one race in 2020 so it would be a breach of the rules to allow him to do this test.

      1. @robbie That’s not what I said.

        1. @johnrkh You said there was one rule for some and another for the rest with a question mark, and the answer to that is that indeed drivers that have not driven an F1 race in 2020 can be allowed to drive this test once due diligence is done to ensure they meet the qualifications and FIA gives them/their teams the ok. But then you discard the rule when you suggest Ferrari could have used their influence to get Sainz in, when indeed since Sainz raced this year they would have to make a different rule for Sainz. Bottom line is that no drivers who raced in F1 in 2020 will be at this post-season test. Period. Sainz presence would breach the rule and otherwise a new rule would have to be made especially for him.

          1. @robbie this is what I said

            I’m a little surprised that Ferrari didn’t us their influence to get Sainz a drive.

            No where in that sentence did I suggest that Sainz should be given a test in the Ferrari. I was saying clearly imo that I thought it surprising that they didn’t ask for it as it’s not beyond Ferrari or any other team to want to bend the rules to suit themselves. Renault did in fact have to get a dispensation to let Alonso run. The ‘clarification’ has been made in the face of complaints from drivers and other teams. Which means robbie this is a case of a rule being put aside for the benefit of Renault and Alonso.

          2. @johnrkh I don’t see it that way at all. Fair enough that you have clarified that you don’t think Sainz should be given a test, and that you are surprised that Ferrari hasn’t pushed for that. Where I don’t think a rule has been put aside is that the rule allows for drivers who haven’t raced in F1 in 2020 to do the test with the blessing of the FIA. Ie. the rules allow for FA to be there with the permission he (the team) has been given within the rule, but not drivers like Sainz, Vettel, and Ricciardo who have been brought into the discussion because they are changing teams and would find useful a test day, but have raced this year.

            To me your suggestion of a special dispensation would only exist if for example CS, SV, or DR were to be given a test in spite of having raced this season. The clarification was simply to remind the likes of Sainz/Ferrari et al that a driver must not have raced in F1 in 2020 to qualify for the test. The clarification is not an alteration of the rule. Whereas FA will get a day after having not raced in F1 for a few years, the other drivers in question have just come fresh off of experiencing a whole season with the current cars. Sure they would have loved a day in their new teams’ current car, but I think moreso to just start working with their new team than to try a car out that is going to feel quite different after the changes made in the off-season to the floors for downforce reduction. But in general they’re already up to speed with today’s cars and tires, FA and the other participating drivers are not.

  9. Seems rather odd. Isn’t the whole point of this test to give up and coming drivers a taste of F1 and allow the teams to evaluate talent for the future? Surely the rule needs to change and hopefully it will for next year. Perhaps something like only drivers who have participated in 3 or fewer F1 races full stop. It’s bad enough that there aren’t enough race seats available on the current grid, let alone opportunities like this for young drivers to get some sliver of spotlight!

    1. The rules are set by the FIA though, it is labelled a young driver test but there has always been a provision for other drivers to enter. Now the FIA has just clarified what those other provisions are. The test is still going to be a young driver test, but will have 2 drivers that havent driven in f1 cars lately. If Sainz was allowed to test, it would have opened the floodgates for every team to run their current or incoming drivers if they wanted to.

  10. Much ado about nothing. FA has not been in a car for a few years. This will be a one day thing. Sure it will help him get a bit up to snuff with today’s cars, and perhaps confirm what he has been learning via their simulators. Then they’re going to have to cut flooring away like all the teams will, and that will completely change what FA experienced from one test day in this year’s soon to be irrelevant car. Will he be on 2021 tires? If not that will be another big change that will make this test irrelevant in terms of him getting a jump start over all others in terms of helping the team much for next year. And this is not a special rule for FA as it is within the rules for him since he hasn’t raced an F1 car in 2020, and otherwise the rules allow for FIA to give permission for him to test and they have. All on the up and up, all good, makes sense, and as I say much ado about nothing.

  11. So, why didn’t Renault do this for Ocon last year, if it’s just about not having driven for a season or more (perhaps his issues getting up to speed made them think of this scheme?).

    I mean, this reasoning is semi-solid in the same sense as many, if not most, of the Masi ‘explainers’ on incidents that don’t actually explain the motivation and foundational choices behind the reasoning, just that it was reasoned that way.

    The extra stuff about Renault doing so much for rookies etc. makes it seem as if there was some special dispensation. Which with this reasoning in off, but also because while certainly in the heyday of Prost’s generation they and the Ligier equipe did a lot to promote French drivers, and Grosjean, Ocon (Bianci!), Buemi, Vergne, etc. are probably an example how that still remained effective through today, but it seems a bit far fetched as a reason to modify a rule that apparently didn’t even need a special case for Alonso because he just didn’t drive last season.

    1. Williams with Kubica set the precent, so i see it ok to run Buemi and Alonso but not Sainz in this test. The wording the FIA has used makes sense. Not everyone is happy about it, but with limited testing, drivers returning from being out of F1 should be given a bit more time just like rookies. Renault probably could have run Ocon at least years end of season test, but was he still under contract with Mercedes? Or did Renault only notice the loophole this year.

    2. @bosyber They did. Ocon drove the RS19 in the post-GP test.

  12. Utterly useless Michael Masi and FIA. Biggest group of farce people I have ever seen. Corrupt til the bone. What a disgrace on worldwide level. If I was CEO of Liberty I would either start a new competition without FIA involvement or simply sell the whole circus. What is FIA thinking? That it is 1990 and they are all Sepp Blatter?

    1. Oh come off it, as the article says the fia has dispensation under the rules to let other drivers into the test, and they have now clarified the dispensation so that it doesn’t include current f1 drivers from entering the test. What is so wrong with that? People are more up in arms because it is Alonso, but are not up in arms about Buemi also being in the test for Red Bull, and were not up in arms when Kubica did the young drivers test for Williams.

    2. It’s just Alonso working on new diss tracks so that’s why he was there.

    3. Mayrton you’ve gone off the charts overboard with you remark. I have to assume you cannot bring yourself to watch F1 races any longer then, based on your venomous opinion?

      1. You’re right. Maybe too blunt there. Love the sport, dislike its governing body. So many non acceptable actions through the years. I personally cant take them seriously and would really wish the teams collectively have the courage to start a new governing body.

  13. geoffgroom44 (@)
    9th December 2020, 12:27

    This is not a good development for F1 …or for Alonso’s public image

  14. Alonso is young at heart

  15. As I mentioned on a previous article on the same theme, accepting Prima Donna Alonso to participate at the Young Driver Test is embarrassing and a joke. It also clearly says no more than two races in F1 not two world championships. Somehow, it is becoming more ridiculous, but the power of marketing brand name for Renault supersedes any reason or rule; regardless what the driver can potentially achieve next year.

    1. Ref Aston Martin next year…

  16. If it were useless for Alonso or Renault they wouldn’t be running him in it among all this bad press.
    The complaints are not about whether there is tangible benefit for Alonso or Renault. It’s about the original intent of the young drivers test being thrown down the drain.
    It is now possible for only old ‘retired’ drivers to be the ones running in the ‘young drivers test’.

    1. Or, Evans, this is a bit of a unique situation, with FA returning to F1, and besides “all this bad press” is only amongst certain disgruntled fans who, unless they are prepared to boycott F1 over this, will be watching FA race next year and they will have seen that this one day test in this year’s car will mean nothing once they are testing and racing in anger next year in next year’s cars.

      Note, at the last race they ask Horner about the test day and the concept of Sainz, Vettel, and Ricciardo being allowed to do it since FA was (obviously ignoring the rule that one cannot have raced in F1 in 2020) and Horner had no issue with that whatsoever. He simply shrugged and with a smile said it’s only one day and he’d have no problem with them being there. It’s merely one day where a bunch of newbies and an iconic F1 2-time WDC have an orientation day in a 2020 car. Then 2021 is going to be a whole new chapter with parts of the floor removed and then 2022 and massive new chapter. This one day is such small potatoes in the grand scheme of things.

      1. Again, the importance of the test is irrelevant. The denial of a young driver’s opportunity to drive an F1 car during a test designed for young drivers to have this opportunity is the problem.

        1. I think that assumes a young driver had a day taken away from him. If they never offered a young driver a day from whom they then took it away in favour of FA, is that a problem? I’m sure any young drivers they have in mind to offer sessions to can be accommodated at other times, but with FA uniquely having been out of a car for a few years I can see why they sought permission for him to test now before the off-season. The young drivers that are testing won’t be in an F1 seat next year whereas FA will be. If this gives him a tiny taste of what the other drivers who will be on the grid next year have had all season, in order to get a bit familiar and a bit up to speed with the cars and tires, I have no issue with that. I don’t consider it an unfair advantage and if one young driver could have had his day had it been offered, that is less important than FA being allowed to get a bit up to speed. If indeed FA stole a day from a young prospect perhaps he will make it up to said youngster with a personalized learning session together at some other time.

Comments are closed.