F1 reserve drivers: Who is eligible to race as a replacement?

After McLaren's confirmation that Paul Di Resta will be its reserve driver for the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix, a spotlight is on the drivers still eligible for a superlicence

F1 reserve drivers: Who is eligible to race as a replacement?

McLaren had previously announced that it has access to Mercedes reserves Stoffel Vandoorne and Esteban Gutierrez, and has given both men a seat fitting and time in the Woking simulator.

However this weekend Vandoorne is committed to the Formula E finale in Berlin, while it emerged over the Silverstone weekend that Gutierrez has forfeited his right to a superlicence due to a change in the regulations for this year.

The FIA's International Sporting Code now says that any driver who has not raced for three full seasons has to complete 300kms of testing within 180 days of the licence application - in other words as of now any driver who has not raced in F1 since 2016, and has not tested since February this year, cannot have a superlicence.

Gutierrez fell foul of that rule because he last competed with Haas in 2016 - timing he shares with Nico Rosberg, Felipe Nasr and Rio Haryanto. Sebastien Buemi, long listed as a reserve for the two Red Bull teams, is also not currently eligible, having last raced way back in 2011.

So aside from the up and coming drivers who have qualified by attaining 40 superlicence points, and Nico Hulkenberg who stepped in for Racing Point last weekend, which past F1 drivers have an automatic right to a superlicence - and what are their prospects of being called upon?

Jenson Button - last race: 2017 Monaco GP

Former world champion Jenson Button's last full season with McLaren was in 2016, but his appearance at Monaco the following year as stand-in when Fernando Alonso contested the Indy 500 means that he is still eligible for a superlicence. He made it clear at the time that it was a one-off and he has no interest in returning to F1. He has subsequently focussed on GT and sportscar racing, and his role as a Sky pundit.

Paul di Resta - Last race: 2017 Hungarian GP

Di Resta's last full season was with Force India in 2013. After two years away he took on a reserve role with Williams in 2016, and in 2017 he was called upon in Hungary when Felipe Massa was unfit. He jumped in on Saturday afternoon, went straight into qualifying, and retired in the race. That one start means that he is still eligible for a superlicence, which is why McLaren has called upon him for this weekend.

Jolyon Palmer - Last race: 2017 Japanese GP

Jolyon Palmer was dropped by Renault with four races of the 2017 season to go. He has subsequently forged a successful career as a media pundit, notably with BBC 5 Live. However he remains eligible for a superlicence until the end of this season.

Pascal Wehrlein - Last race: 2017 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Pascal Wehrlein left F1 at the end of his season with Sauber in 2017 after the team changed ownership, and later he cut his ties with long-time mentors Mercedes. Since 2019 he has been connected to Ferrari as a development driver, and is thus still "current" thanks to his mileage in the Maranello simulator. In June he split with the Mahindra Formula E team, and is thus currently available. Still only 25, his F1 career could yet be revived.

Stoffel Vandoorne - Last race: 2018 Abu Dhabi GP

Stoffel Vandoorne was dropped by McLaren at the end of 2018, and has subsequently forged a career in Formula E. His Mercedes links make him the obvious candidate for the reserve role for the Brackley team, and he is also available "on loan" to Racing Point and McLaren. His Berlin Formula E commitments mean he is not available as a reserve this weekend, but he will be free thereafter.

Sergey Sirotkin - Last race: 2018 Abu Dhabi GP

Sergey Sirotkin parted company with Williams at the end of his first full season in 2018. Last year he became a reserve driver for Renault, and was also available for McLaren. He remains the official reserve for Renault, and has been attending races this year with the Enstone team. He has kept his hand in by competing in endurance racing, and earlier this year he did some F2 testing with ART.

Fernando Alonso - Last race: 2018 Abu Dhabi GP

Fernando Alonso is currently focussing on his Indy 500 programme, which culminates with the race on 23rd August. From the Belgian GP onwards he is therefore available to fill a reserve role. His ongoing links with McLaren make him an obvious candidate for the Woking team, which also has the option to use Vandoorne. However, he could be of interest to other teams - and given his future commitment to Renault it's logical to assume that he might get priority over Sirotkin if the team needs to replace a driver.

Brendon Hartley - Last race: 2018 Abu Dhabi GP

Brendon Hartley's stint at Toro Rosso ended after an unhappy 2018 season, and he fell off the Red Bull radar after that. He has subsequently returned to the WEC, latterly with Toyota, and he also raced in Formula E until leaving the Dragon team last month. In 2019 he was a development driver for Ferrari and spent many hours in the Maranello simulator. He's still only 30, but his name has not been connected to an F1 reserve role.

Marcus Ericsson - Last race: 2018 Abu Dhabi GP

Marcus Ericsson switched his focus to the USA and IndyCar after his 2018 season with Sauber. However he retains links with the Swiss team and its owners. He was its reserve last year, and kept his hand in with a test in Austria. This year Robert Kubica has the Alfa Romeo reserve role, but Ericsson would be the driver that the team calls on next, IndyCar commitments permitting.

Robert Kubica - Last race: 2019 Abu Dhabi GP

After his unhappy season with Williams in 2019 Kubica and his sponsor switched camps to Alfa Romeo for this year. He is the official reserve for the team, and has an extra chance of being called upon as team-mate Antonio Giovinazzi is Ferrari's reserve, and would switch across if needed, leaving Kubica to take the Alfa seat. He has kept up to speed with regular FP1 sessions this year.

shares
comments
Valtteri Bottas signs with Mercedes to stay for 2021 F1 season
Previous article

Valtteri Bottas signs with Mercedes to stay for 2021 F1 season

Next article

Perez could return for 70th Anniversary GP after completing COVID-19 quarantine

Perez could return for 70th Anniversary GP after completing COVID-19 quarantine
The 10 stories to watch out for across the rest of the 2022 F1 season Plus

The 10 stories to watch out for across the rest of the 2022 F1 season

It’s 13 down, nine to go as the Formula 1 teams pause for breath in the summer break. But what can we expect to happen over the next three months from Belgium to Abu Dhabi? Here's the key storylines to keep an eye out for the rest of the 2022 season

The inconvenient truth about F1’s ‘American driver’ dream Plus

The inconvenient truth about F1’s ‘American driver’ dream

OPINION: The Formula 1 grid's wait for a new American driver looks set to continue into 2023 as the few remaining places up for grabs - most notably at McLaren - look set to go elsewhere. This is despite the Woking outfit giving tests to IndyCar aces recently, showing that the Stateside single-seater series still has some way to go to being seen as a viable feeder option for F1

Formula 1
Aug 17, 2022
How a bad car creates the ultimate engineering challenge Plus

How a bad car creates the ultimate engineering challenge

While creating a car that is woefully off the pace is a nightmare scenario for any team, it inadvertently generates the test any engineering department would relish: to turn it into a winner. As Mercedes takes on that challenge in Formula 1 this season, McLaren’s former head of vehicle engineering reveals how the team pulled of the feat in 2009 with Lewis Hamilton

Formula 1
Aug 15, 2022
The under-fire F1 driver fighting for his future Plus

The under-fire F1 driver fighting for his future

Personable, articulate 
and devoid of the usual
 racing driver airs and graces,
 Nicholas Latifi is the last Formula 1 driver you’d expect to receive death threats, but such was the toxic legacy of his part in last year’s explosive season finale. And now, as ALEX KALINAUCKAS explains, he faces a battle to keep his place on the F1 grid…

Formula 1
Aug 13, 2022
The strange tyre travails faced by F1’s past heroes Plus

The strange tyre travails faced by F1’s past heroes

Modern grand prix drivers like to think the tyres they work with are unusually difficult and temperamental. But, says  MAURICE HAMILTON, their predecessors faced many of the same challenges – and some even stranger…

Formula 1
Aug 12, 2022
The returning fan car revolution that could suit F1 Plus

The returning fan car revolution that could suit F1

Gordon Murray's Brabham BT46B 'fan car' was Formula 1 engineering at perhaps its most outlandish. Now fan technology has been successfully utilised on the McMurtry Speirling at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, could it be adopted by grand prix racing once again?

Formula 1
Aug 11, 2022
Hamilton's first experience of turning silver into gold Plus

Hamilton's first experience of turning silver into gold

The seven-time Formula 1 world champion has been lumbered with a duff car before the 2022 Mercedes. Back in 2009, McLaren’s alchemists transformed the disastrous MP4-24 into a winning car with Lewis Hamilton at the wheel. And now it’s happening again at his current team, but can the rate of progress be matched this year?

Formula 1
Aug 11, 2022
Why few could blame Leclerc for following the example of Hamilton’s exit bombshell Plus

Why few could blame Leclerc for following the example of Hamilton’s exit bombshell

OPINION: Ferrari's numerous strategy blunders, as well as some of his own mistakes, have cost Charles Leclerc dearly in the 2022 Formula 1 title battle in the first half of the season. Though he is locked into a deal with Ferrari, few could blame Leclerc if he ultimately wanted to look elsewhere - just as Lewis Hamilton did with McLaren 10 years prior

Formula 1
Aug 9, 2022