One of the major amendments to the Sporting Regulations for 2022 is the need that rookie drivers be utilized on at least two occasions during the first free practice this season.
Drivers who have participated in no more than two F1 World Championship races are eligible to compete as rookies. When looking for drivers with racing experience, the teams have a few possibilities. Because they considered their racers needed as much time in the new cars as possible, the majority of teams were unwilling to introduce rookies early in the season. Many have recently kept that focus as they compete for the constructors’ championship.
Additionally, teams are less worried than ever that a rookie will cause expensive damage, as Alfonso Celis and Force India did in Mexico in 2017. This is because of the budget limit. Brazil is clearly not one of the six remaining races where teams can field a rookie on Friday because it is a sprint weekend with FP1 and qualification.
There are just five more events, many of which include concessions. The street site won’t be used due to the risks involved because racing drivers haven’t been there since 2019. Japan is typically not used for FP1 runs due to how quickly a car may slide off and receive damage.
However, as Max Verstappen with Toro Rosso in 2014 showed, a rookie can contend at Suzuka. The choice to hold extended 90-minute FP2 Pirelli tyre testing at Suzuka and Austin in 2023 complicates things even more. Pirelli keeps Mexico on hand as a fallback.
Since it’s the last chance, there will undoubtedly be many rookies in Abu Dhabi’s first practice session. Managing the season finale, which features a tight race for third place behind the top two, presents a challenge for those who are now competing in F2.