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F1 reserve drivers: All the back-up drivers for 2024

The regular Formula 1 drivers are household names, but the test and reserve drivers play an important role behind the scenes. Here’s everything you need to know about each team’s back-up drivers.

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing, Christian Horner, Team Principal, Red Bull Racing

F1 teams have begun to announce their reserve and test drivers for the 2024 season. With teams preparing for the 24-race season, these are the drivers who will be supporting the team behind the scenes.

What's the difference between an F1 reserve driver and a test driver?

Additional drivers within Formula 1 teams don’t all have the same job title, with different roles being given to different people, depending on how the teams decide they can best use them to progress.

The terms ‘third driver’ and ‘reserve driver’ are both regularly used, although some teams combine this role. The third driver is best described as the test driver, and they are used to help the regular drivers and engineers to improve the car. Occasionally the third driver will participate in a test day or Friday practice to build a better feel for the car. Teams will also use the third driver for demos and other PR stunts.

A reserve driver, however, is on standby during grand prix weekends and will jump in the car if one of the regular drivers is unable to race. They are present at most grands prix, watching the action from the pitbox. Outside of the race weekend, they will also regularly work in the simulator.

F1 teams will also have simulation drivers or development drivers, whose sole role is to test any changes being made, as well as getting a feel of the car, to help the team and regular drivers improve their understanding of the vehicle.

Red Bull

  • Reserve driver: Liam Lawson
  • Simulation driver: Rudy van Buren

Liam Lawson will remain as the Red Bull reserve driver for the 2024, alongside their regular drivers Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez. The Kiwi joined the Red Bull junior programme in 2019 before making his Formula 1 debut in 2023, temporarily standing in for Alpha Tauri driver Daniel Ricciardo.

Lawson had an impressive debut, taking on five races for the team. He most notably qualified 10th at the Singapore Grand Prix, knocking out championship leader Max Verstappen from Q3. He then had a career-best when he finished ninth and scored his first F1 points.

Rudy van Buren will continue his role as the Red Bull F1 simulation test and development driver after joining the team in 2023. The Dutchman plays an important role behind the scenes and spends many hours in the team's simulator. With testing opportunities in F1 limited, Van Buren's role is very valuable. He is mainly involved in developing the car and 'track support': trying out set-ups and potential updates for the regular drivers during GP weekends and making suggestions accordingly.

Rudy van Buren, Red Bull F1 Simulator Test and Development Driver

Rudy van Buren, Red Bull F1 Simulator Test and Development Driver

Photo: Red Bull Racing

Mercedes

  • Reserve driver: Mick Schumacher

Mercedes will retain Mick Schumacher as their reserve driver for the 2024 season. The German joined the team at the start of 2023 having lost his seat with Hass at the end of the previous season. After struggling to find a drive for the new year, Schumacher has signed up for a full WEC season with Alpine but will continue his reserve driver role for the Mercedes F1 team.

Ferrari 

  • Reserve drivers: Ollie Bearman, Antonio Giovinazzi & Robert Shwartzman 
  • Development drivers: Arthur Leclerc, Antonio Fuoco & Davide Rigon  

Ferrari have announced that F2’s Ollie Bearman and Arthur Leclerc will join the team for the 2024 season. Bearman, who is part of the Scuderia Ferrari Driver Academy, will continue to compete in Formula 2 in 2024 with Prema racing but will be poised to step into the F1 seat if needed. The Englishman will join returning reserve drivers Antonia Giovinazzi and Robert Shwartzman who are both taking part in WEC alongside their Ferrari roles. 

Giovinazzi previously competed for Alfa Romeo from 2019 to 2021 but lost his seat at the end of that year. He became the Ferrari reserve driver in 2022, alongside competing in Formula E. As part of the role, the reserve drivers also fill the reserve role at Ferrari’s partner teams Alfa Romeo and Haas, with Giovinazzi testing for the American team at the 2022 Italian and United States grands prix.  

Shwartzman was a part of the Ferrari Driver Academy for several years before being given the reserve driver role in 2023. He drives under the Israeli flag after the FIA banned drivers from competing under the Russian flag. Shwartzman has competed in several F1 sessions for both Ferrari and Haas, including taking part in the FP1 session of the 2023 Dutch Grand Prix for the Italian team. 

Arthur Leclerc will also join Ferrari for 2024 as a development driver for the team. The younger brother of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, the Monegasque driver will join Antonio Fuoco and Davide Rigon working in the simulator, car development and updates introduced throughout the season. Leclerc will also compete in this year’s Italian GT championship, with Fuoco and Rigon competing in the WEC. 

Arthur Leclerc, Ollie Bearman, Ferrari

Arthur Leclerc, Ollie Bearman, Ferrari

Photo by: Ferrari

McLaren 

  • Reserve drivers: Ryo Hirakawa & Pato O’Ward 
  • Simulation drivers: Will Stevens & Oliver Turvey 
  • Development driver: Gabriel Bortoleto  

McLaren have announced that Ryo Hirakawa and Pato O’Ward will become its reserve drivers for the 2024 season. Hirakawa is a former Le Mans winner, taking the victory in 2022 during his debut season with his team-mates Sebastien Buemi and Brendon Hartley. The Japanese driver also took the Hypercar World Endurance Drivers’ Championship in 2022 and 2023. 

O’Ward currently competes for the Arrow McLaren IndyCar Team. He has previously taken part in several McLaren driver development tests, including FP1 at the 2022 and 2023 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. O’Ward will continue his IndyCar role alongside his new reserve driver duties.  

Behind the scenes, the British squad employs several other experienced drivers: Will Stevens and Oliver Turvey. The duo spends a lot of time in the team's simulator, where they work closely with the engineers and regular drivers. During grands prix, they test all kinds of changes and improvements in real time in Woking. This helps the drivers at the track find the best set-up and strategy. 

Aston Martin 

  • Reserve drivers: Felipe Drugovich & Stoffel Vandoorne 

Aston Martin will retain Felipe Drugovich and Stoffel Vandoorne as its reserve drivers for 2024. Previously the team were able to call on the reserves of engine partner Mercedes in case of an emergency but in more recent years have introduced their own reserve drivers. 

In November 2022 Stoffel Vandoorne was confirmed as test and reserve driver, making the move from Mercedes after many years in the role. 

The team has also set up its own driver development programme for 2024, with Formula 2 champion Felipe Drugovich being their first recruit. The Brazilian started work as the F1 team's reserve driver and attended a number of grands prix in 2023 to gain experience. 

Felipe Drugovich, Aston Martin F1 Team

Felipe Drugovich, Aston Martin F1 Team

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Alpine

  • Reserve driver: Jack Doohan

Jack Doohan will remain as the Alpine reserve driver for 2024 after announcing he will not return to Formula 2 this season. The Australian has decided to put his full focus on the reserve role for the new season in an attempt to make it into Formula 1 as a regular driver. He has however discussed the possibility of moving to WEC if he cannot obtain an F1 seat.

Williams

  • Reserve driver: TBC
  • Development driver: Jamie Chadwick

Williams does not employ its own reserve driver and in recent years has called on their engine partner Mercedes for their reserves when needed. The last known reserve driver for Williams was Logan Sargeant in 2022, who was promoted to the second seat alongside team-mate Alexander Albon for 2023.

RB

  • Reserve driver: Liam Lawson

Due to its close ties with Red Bull, RB doesn't have a reserve driver of its own. The small team from Faenza can call on the sister team’s pool instead, hence why Liam Lawson will remain as the team’s reserve driver for 2024. Lawson made his Formula 1 debut for the team during five races in 2023 after the team’s regular driver Daniel Ricciardo broke his hand during a practice session crash.

Liam Lawson, Scuderia AlphaTauri

Liam Lawson, Scuderia AlphaTauri

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

Sauber

  • Reserve drivers: Zane Maloney & Theo Pourchaire

Zane Maloney will join Sauber as a reserve driver for 2024 alongside the team’s previous reserve Theo Pourchaire. Maloney joins the team after being dropped as a Red Bull reserve driver in 2023. The Barbadian driver will remain in his Rodin Motorsport seat in F2 in the new year but will now split his responsibilities with Sauber.

The team will also retain Theo Pourchaire who had previously been part of the Sauber Academy since 2019. At the end of 2022, it was announced he would join the team as their official reserve driver for 2023, with the team deciding to keep him in his role for the 2024 season.

Haas

  • Reserve drivers: Ollie Bearman and Pietro Fittipaldi

Haas has announced that Ollie Bearman will join its reserve driver line-up for 2024, alongside Pietro Fittipaldi. Bearman will share reserve driver responsibilities with Ferrari, whilst continuing to compete in Formula 2 with Prema Racing. Fittipaldi will return to Haas for his sixth season with the team. The Brazilian will combine his role alongside competing in the 2024 IndyCar Series for Rahal Letterman Langian. Fittipaldi is a two-time grand prix starter after replacing an injured Romain Grosjean in 2020.

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