Formula 1 Managing Director of Motorsport, Ross Brawn says Formula 1 managers are evaluating ways of increasing the number of FIA Formula 2 drivers participating in Friday Practice sessions.
Teams currently can run a third driver during Free Practice 1 during a Grand Prix weekend but are limited to just two cars, compare to mid-2000’s where teams were allowed to run a third car before the idea was dropped in 2006.
Current F2 drivers Charles Leclerc and Sean Galael will take part in Free Practice sessions in the latter stage of the F1 season, with Leclerc linked with a race seat to Sauber F1 Team for 2018.
Using an example of an F2 driver replacing an indisposed F1 driver, Brawn told Autosport.com that it would be unwise for teams to run an inexperience driver without giving prior running, such as a practice session.
“Putting someone into F1 who hasn’t got the experience is a risk, you have to prepare them as well as possible, maybe doing the Friday morning practice.” said Brawn.
“Those sorts of initiatives are important before they get exposed. If they have a problem and they get into F1 the wrong way, then their careers could be damaged.”
Brawn uses an example of Williams Martini Racing‘s Felipe Massa, who was taken ill during the Hungarian Grand Prix and was replaced last minute by Paul di Resta, stating that a situation like this wouldn’t of been fair for the F2 driver.
“I don’t think replacing Felipe with an F2 guy would’ve been very fair, because they would’ve had very little time to get into the car. There’s a better structured way of doing it, but that’s the sort of thing we want to do.”
“Friday practice – we’ve started looking at more positive initiatives to get the young guys to have an opportunity to drive – that sort of thing is what’s being discussed at the moment.”
Brawn said that Formula 1 is lacking MotoGP–Moto2–Moto3 style ladder but also claims that Liberty Media‘s takeover was “an opportunity to create that progression”.
“Wouldn’t it be great if we had a young guy coming in, he was a star in F3, a star in F2 and then he does a Max Verstappen-like entry into F1. That’s what we want to see. By having those races at an F1 grand prix, the fans can start to engage with them.” commented Brawn.
“It has so many benefits – commercially and from a sporting perspective – that we’ve got to make it work.”