There seem to be endless discussions over whether there is indeed a lack of seats available for young drivers trying to make their way into F1. There are various F1 teams like Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, and Williams that have offered young drivers opportunities through reserve driver and testing roles as well as other programs giving them a chance to get a feel for what it’s like driving an F1 car throughout the season during a race weekend. There are F1 teams that currently have young drivers on hand but don't always utilize them. There are also teams such as McLaren and Aston Martin who currently do not have a young driver within their team for testing etc..and have voiced their opinions on the new mandatory rule that F1 will put into place for the 2022 season.
Managing Director Ross Brawn has stated that they are working on a plan to ensure that more young drivers will get an opportunity to drive an F1 car by making it mandatory during a practice session. There are still some rules and terms that need to be ironed out, however, it does mean that all teams will soon need to have a young driver on their team to participate in this new plan.
"Friday running is coming in," said Brawn. "On Friday, each team will have to run FP1 with a rookie. And we're being very careful about how we define a rookie. Let's wait and see how we define it.
"I think it's next year they'll need to run a young driver on a Friday, every team a certain number of occasions."
Brawn also stated that he doesn’t believe that there is not a lack of opportunities for young drivers trying to get an F1 seat. He also referenced some current drivers that have been successful crossing over from junior racing series like Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc and George Russell.
"So there is the opportunity there. It's great to try and help, but I don't think we're lacking in young drivers coming through into F1."
Although not all of the details have been laid out, a huge factor worth mentioning is that all teams will need to have a young driver available with their team to participate in this new plan. This means teams that do not currently already have a rookie or young driver on their team will need to find one. One team that does not have a young driver program is the McLaren team.
So far, McLaren’s boss Andreas Seidl was very supportive and optimistic when he was asked about the new mandatory rule to have a young driver participate in official sessions throughout the season.
"We were very supportive in putting mandatory sessions in place at the post-season tests, or even during the season in practice sessions allow rookies to do official sessions," said McLaren boss Andreas Seidl.
"It's very hard for rookies nowadays with all the limited testing to get seat time. So we're very happy with that, and we are also in favour to promote this even further more. it is the discussion we are having with the others teams, FIA and F1 going forward.
Seidl also said they are currently looking for a young driver to participate in this new role for the team.
"I suppose we are looking into who we actually want to give the chance to be in our car for these sessions. That's a process that is ongoing at the moment."
The McLaren boss does not see any issues with the possibility of having to give up a Friday practice for the young driver program that will be put into place. Seidl also praised the mandatory aspect of this new rule because it puts every team on the same level of playing field.
"Absolutely happy with that. It also makes sense that we introduce that gradually. Next year we speak about two or three practice sessions so it's a good first step.
"But then I think moving forward we would be also happy to ramp this number of sessions up.
"It's good to have this also mandatory, so it's in the end, from a sporting perspective, the same for each team, and fair in the end. That's why we were very supportive with putting that in place."
The Aston Martin team is in a very similar position as the McLaren team with their lack of a young driver program and will also need to find a young driver for their team. Aston Martin team principal Otmar Szafnauer expressed some concern over limited practice time however he ultimately sees the value in the bigger picture that would benefit the young drivers.
"For sure it will benefit those who do have young driver programmes," said team boss Otmar Szafnauer.
"And, for us, because we don't, we prefer to make sure our drivers have the maximum time in the car. However, we've got to look at it from a holistic standpoint and feeding the sport with younger talent and coming up.
"It seems like as time goes on we have less and less testing, and how are they to get the experience they need."