Why are 10 rookies taking part in Abu Dhabi FP1?

Published on
23 Nov 2023
Est. reading time
2 Min

Zak O’Sullivan will be jumping into Alex Albon’s FW45 on Friday, here’s why…

As we gear up for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend, you may notice 10 new names on the entry list for the weekend – but why is that?
Well, these 10 Super License-holding rookies will all be taking part in Free Practice 1. This is a direct result of a rule introduced ahead of the 2022 season, to give younger drivers a real-world testing environment.
It used to be much easier for younger drivers to get mileage under their belts, often getting tens of thousands of kilometres under their belts before making their debuts.
Nowadays, testing is much more restrictive. Take our very own Logan Sargeant as a prime example, practice hours aside, the young American had just 1.5 days of testing in the FW45 before making his race debut in Bahrain.
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Article 32.4 (c) of the Sporting Regulations stipulates that "On one (1) 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 (2) Championship races in their career."
This limits the opportunity for someone with vast Grand Prix experience to come in and take the seat. It also means that Logan filled his own rookie FP1 session way back in Bahrain.
Now the time has come for Alex to free up his seat, with Academy Driver and 2023 F3 Vice Champion Zak O’Sullivan getting a valuable hour of running around the Yas Marina Circuit.
Logan making his FP1 debut at COTA in 2022.
Logan making his FP1 debut at COTA in 2022.
Last season, Alex sat out for Nyck de Vries at Barcelona whilst Nicholas Latifi’s session was fulfilled by Logan making his maiden F1 weekend outing in FP1 at Austin.
But why are there 10 rookies in Abu Dhabi? Simply put, the teams typically like to load it towards the end of the season, when understanding the car is less critical.
There is no hard-and-fast rule that mandates when the rookie sessions must be undertaken, but it’s highly unlikely you’d see any of the teams give up an FP1 session at an F1 Sprint weekend, where you only get one hour of practice or an all-new venue such as Las Vegas.
This is why so many are being completed here in Abu Dhabi, and we look forward to seeing Zak behind the wheel on Friday.
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