F1 team bosses urge for calendar, format "rethink" to help rookie drivers

Formula 1 team bosses reckon a “rethink” of the championship calendar and race format is required or else rookie drivers will have “no chance” of holding onto their seats.

Logan Sargeant, Williams FW45, climbs out of his damaged car after crashing out in FP1

Haas has this week announced that it will retain driver duo Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen for 2024.

Team principal Guenther Steiner praised their experience, with Haas having dropped young driver Mick Schumacher after his two multi-million-pound car-snapping shunts that forced 2022 upgrades to be abandoned to comply with the cost cap.

Alongside the financial constraints, the move to six sprint races – the format which includes only one practice session before qualifying – has also heightened the need for drivers to hit the ground running each weekend.

Williams team boss James Vowles believes these elements, combined with the Alternative Tyre Allocation qualifying format being experimented with this season, means F1 requires a “rethink” or else it risks favouring seasoned drivers at the expense of new talent.

The former Mercedes strategy head said: “How we are now with the ATA format, sprint race format, wet weather as well appearing pretty much most weekends - you’re in a situation where [a rookie driver’s] learning cycle is significantly reduced relative to what I knew five, 10, 15 years ago.

“I think it’s probably worthy of a rethink at certain levels as to what we can do to help drivers in that circumstance because, ultimately, we will get ourselves into a position where we’re not adding new drivers at the rate we want to.

“Or, we have to give them so long in the car that you’ll compromise your [team] performance. That’s a longer-term discussion.”

Mick Schumacher, Reserve Driver, Mercedes-AMG, watches as Kevin Magnussen, Haas VF-23, passes in the pit lane

Mick Schumacher, Reserve Driver, Mercedes-AMG, watches as Kevin Magnussen, Haas VF-23, passes in the pit lane

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Outgoing AlphaTauri boss Franz Tost pointed to the make-up of the F1 calendar, with the current campaign featuring Saudi Arabia, Melbourne and Miami across the opening five rounds - tracks graduating F2 drivers have limited experience of.

The Austrian also cited F1’s current commercial boom as having reduced the incentive for a team to back an inexperienced newcomer.

Tost, who reckoned a driver needs up to 6000km of private testing before entering F1, said: “It has become much more difficult for rookie drivers to come into Formula 1 as it was a couple of years.

“Why? First of all, the field is very, very close together. For second, on the financial side, 10, 15 years ago, you got maybe for 10th position [in the constructors' championship] 20, 30 million US dollars.

“Nowadays, you get 70, 80 million. That means there’s a big difference.

Read Also:

“The direction will go the way that you try to have experienced drivers in because otherwise you are at the back of the constructors’ championship.”

He added: “If you want to bring in a rookie driver, you really have to prepare him in the best possible way or else no chance.”

Previous article Ferrari: "Crystal clear" 2023 flaws will lead to "brand new" 2024 F1 car
Next article F1 results: Lando Norris fastest in Dutch GP practice