Ferrari: Young driver F1 logjam "not a headache"

Ferrari sporting director Laurent Mekies insists planning the Formula 1 futures of the Italian team's talented proteges is "not a headache"

Ferrari: Young driver F1 logjam "not a headache"

Ferrari Driver Academy members Mick Schumacher, Callum Ilott and Robert Shwartzman are all in contention for the 2020 FIA Formula 2 championship title.

All three were given test mileage at Fiorano on Wednesday at the wheel of the 2018 Ferrari SF71H, with Shwartzman running his first-ever F1 laps.

Schumacher and Ilott will gain further experience when they take part in first practice for the Eifel Grand Prix at the Nurburgring for Alfa Romeo and Haas respectively, while Shwartzman will take his turn on Friday at the Abu Dhabi GP.

The young driver test that follows the race weekend at the Yas Marina Circuit will present another opportunity for all three.

Schumacher currently leads Ilott in the F2 championship by 22 points with two race weekends to come in Bahrain, while Shwartzman lies fifth, 51 points adrift of the lead but still in with a mathematical shot at the title.

Some sources have indicated that Schumacher has been guaranteed a graduation if he finishes in the top three in the championship, but the fact that Ilott has also been given an early FP1 chance suggests that Ferrari hopes to place both them in race seats next year.

Ferrari owns the rights to one seat at Alfa Romeo, which is currently occupied by Antonio Giovinazzi. The team is also talking to Haas about placing one of its youngsters, having previously had no involvement in the US-owned outfit driver line-up.

Speaking before Wednesday's Fiorano test running, Mekies said having three drivers on the fringes of F1 is a positive, and he stressed that managing their long-term futures is paramount.

"It's not a headache, it's a good problem to have," Mekies said. "And that's the sort of thing we want to deal with. The guys are doing a very good job. Mick and Callum are progressing significantly from last year, and they are solid leaders of the championship.

"Robert in his first year is pretty much playing with these guys straight away. So we are very happy with the performance of the three of them. There is a bit more struggle certainly for Marcus [Armstrong] and for Giuliano [Alesi].

"But as far as the three top guys for this year are concerned, we are very happy. It doesn't give us a headache, it gives us a lot of stability and options for the future. And that's exactly what we have FDA for.

"Of course, we're conscious that having three guys potentially getting to the right spot at nearly the same time is not always possible to do.

"But I think we have the tools in what we can offer to them in order to make sure we give them the chance to express their potential as best they can, be it today in F2, testing tomorrow, or a bit more next year, or the year after that.

"That's what our target is, how do we build the programme that will allow them to express themselves at best?"

Mekies insisted that there isn't a competition between them to land a race seat.

"We are not in a shoot-out mood, we are in the mood where let's find out how to make sure that they continue building up," he said.

"Because at the end of the day, and we've seen it with Charles [Leclerc], we have seen it with many other exceptional drivers, it's about developing, and the development certainly doesn't stop when you are at the door of F1. It's only the second chapter, which will also involve development.

"So we need to make sure that we support them in that development, and it is with that in mind that we build our programmes, and it is with that in mind that we are planning the next few weeks for them, to make sure that we put them in the in the right atmosphere to express themselves.

"On our side, there is no real strong rush to take decisions."

shares
comments
Ricciardo confident Renault F1 team can be competitive at remaining tracks
Previous article

Ricciardo confident Renault F1 team can be competitive at remaining tracks

Next article

Be at the first F1 race at Imola since 2006

Be at the first F1 race at Imola since 2006
Load comments
Why Ferrari is sure its long-term Leclerc investment will be vindicated Plus

Why Ferrari is sure its long-term Leclerc investment will be vindicated

Humble yet blisteringly quick, Charles Leclerc is the driver Ferrari sees as its next
 world champion, and a rightful heir to the greats of Ferrari’s past – even though, by the team’s own admission, he’s not the finished article yet. Here's why it is confident that the 24-year-old can be the man to end a drought stretching back to 2008

The downside to F1's show and tell proposal Plus

The downside to F1's show and tell proposal

Technology lies at the heart of the F1 story and it fascinates fans, which is why the commercial rights holder plans to compel teams to show more of their ‘secrets’. STUART CODLING fears this will encourage techno-quackery…

Formula 1
Nov 29, 2021
How getting sacked gave Mercedes F1’s tech wizard lasting benefits Plus

How getting sacked gave Mercedes F1’s tech wizard lasting benefits

He’s had a hand in world championship-winning Formula 1 cars for Benetton, Renault and Mercedes, and was also a cog in the Schumacher-Ferrari axis. Having recently ‘moved upstairs’ as Mercedes chief technical officer, James Allison tells STUART CODLING about his career path and why being axed by Benetton was one of the best things that ever happened to him

Formula 1
Nov 28, 2021
The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback Plus

The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback

It’s easy to look at
 Robert Kubica’s second Formula 1 career and feel a sense of sadness that he didn’t reach the heights for which he seemed destined. But as BEN ANDERSON discovered, performance and results are almost meaningless in this context – something more fundamental and incredible happened…

Formula 1
Nov 27, 2021
The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver the goods for McLaren  Plus

The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver the goods for McLaren 

From being lapped by his own team-mate in Monaco to winning at Monza, it’s been a tumultuous first season at McLaren for Daniel Ricciardo. But, as he tells STUART CODLING, there’s more to the story of his turnaround than having a lovely summer holiday during Formula 1's summer break...

Formula 1
Nov 26, 2021
The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title Plus

The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title

As the battle continues to rage over the F1 2021 drivers' championship, teams up and down the grid are turning their attentions to the prize money attributed to each position in the constructors' standings. But F1's sliding scale rules governing windtunnel and CFD use will soften the blow for those who miss out on the top places

Formula 1
Nov 25, 2021
The invisible enemy that’s made Hamilton’s title charge tougher Plus

The invisible enemy that’s made Hamilton’s title charge tougher

After winning his past few Formula 1 titles at a canter, Lewis Hamilton currently trails Max Verstappen by eight points heading into the final double-header of 2021. Although Red Bull has been his biggest on-track challenge, Hamilton feels that he has just as much to grapple with away from the circuit

Formula 1
Nov 24, 2021
Why F1’s inconvenient penalties have to stay Plus

Why F1’s inconvenient penalties have to stay

OPINION: Quibbles over the length of time taken by Formula 1's stewards over decisions are entirely valid. But however inconvenient it is, there can be no questioning the importance of having clearly defined rules that everyone understands and can stick to. Recent events have shown that ambiguity could have big consequences

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2021