While race drivers garner plenty of attention, the talent pool at an F1 team cascades through many levels. There are test and development drivers learning their trade in junior formulae, simulator drivers pounding out the hard yards behind closed doors, and reserve and third drivers.
This latter group are qualified to race in F1, and on hand to do so if one of the race drivers is unable to race. It's common for teams to share official reserves – because there aren't that many qualified, available, and enjoying the level of confidence and trust that makes them suitable.
2022 FIA Formula 2 Champion Felipe Drugovich, as well as 2015 F2 and 2021-2022 Formula E Champion Stoffel Vandoorne are our Test and Reserve drivers. This year, Felipe stood in at the pre-season test in Bahrain, when Lance Stroll was injured, and the 23-year-old Brazilian took part in Free Practice One at Monza as part of the next stage in his development programme.
As we prepare to race in São Paulo, where Felipe will receive a rapturous welcome from passionate home fans, together with our Official Trading Partner AvaTrade we break down the rules around reserve drivers.
To race in F1, Article 4 of the Sporting Regulations states a driver needs to hold a Super Licence. The rules for this are contained within Appendix E of the International Sporting Code.
Rookies qualify for their Super Licence by accumulating points in other series over the previous three years. The threshold is 40 points, with a multitude of series being eligible, ranging from the Junior FIA Karting World Championship (three points for the winner, two for second, one for third), all the way up to F2 (40 points for first, second and third, down to three points for 10th).
In addition to Super Licence points, the driver must also be aged 18 or over, hold an International Grade A competition licence, a standard driving licence, have passed a theory test and contested two single-seater seasons.
Not every driver at an F1 event meets these criteria; there is also a Free Practice Only Super Licence. The requirements here are lower: drivers must have 25 points or have completed six F2 races before their first application. It keeps the standard high, while allowing young talent a taste of F1 operations.
Every F1 team on the grid must also satisfy Article 3.4(c) of the Sporting Regulations, which states: 'On one occasion during the Championship, for each car entered for the Championship, each Competitor must use a driver who has not participated in more than two Championship races in their career.'
Teams generally satisfy the above rule by fielding a driver in Free Practice One; Felipe took part in the first practice session at Monza for the team earlier this year.
Article 32 of the Sporting Regulation details when a driver is permitted to race once they are qualified.
Each team is allowed a maximum of four race drivers per season. Entries, including driver names, are published after initial scrutineering, two hours before the start of FP1.
Any subsequent driver substitutions require the acquiescence of the Stewards – but can be made at any point before Qualifying.
For example, our Team Ambassador Pedro de la Rosa made his 99th Grand Prix appearance subbing for an unwell Sergio Pérez at the 2011 Canadian Grand Prix.
In fact, Pedro amassed an impressive set of statistics during his driving career; from 1999 to 2014 he took part in 365 test days, covering 22,981 laps and 105,288 kilometres in testing alone.
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