Top teams unlikely to run third drivers – Button

2013 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Ma Qing Hua, Caterham, Shanghai, 2013Jenson Button says F1’s leading teams are unlikely to run junior drivers in practice sessions in order to receive extra tyres.

A plan is being considered under which teams will receive an extra set of tyres for the first practice session for a new driver to use.

Button said he was supportive of the plan although he didn’t expect McLaren would take advantage of it. “I don’t think you’ll see many of the big teams having a third driver drive the car on Friday,” he said.

“I think it’s a good idea to have extra sets for young drivers, yes. It’s very difficult for a young driver to have mileage in a Formula One car. They need to bring a lot of money, it seems, to have the opportunity.

“But now that they have extra tyres it could actually be useful for middle-of-the-grid teams and lower to have a third driver for more mileage, more information. There are quite a few test drivers that will sit around and watch Friday, Saturday, Sunday every other weekend and they don’t get to drive the car.

“So I think it’s good for them and I think for the future of the sport it’s important that youngsters are actually getting the chance to drive an F1 car and experience a Grand Prix weekend properly rather than just watching what happens.”

Jean-Eric Vergne, who drove in practice sessions for Toro Rosso before making his F1 debut, agreed that young drivers need more test mileage:

“I remember my case one year ago I was pretty happy to have some run on the Friday in the Toro Rosso. I think it’s a really good experience as Jenson said. First of all we have to bring a lot of money or we have a chance to be in the Red Bull programme and we get the opportunity to drive but it’s never enough and it’s definitely a good thing.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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21 comments on “Top teams unlikely to run third drivers – Button”

  1. I also think the top teams are unlikely to do it, although they might try it out if they want to give their 3rd driver a bit of running (that counts only for Lotus then, I guess. Do McLaren and Ferrari even HAVE a 3rd driver currently? )

    1. Actually, it might be a good idea for McLaren. With the car in its current state they’re not going to score big points anyway, so they might as well get some extra mileage, and let the sim drivers get a taste of the real thing. I guess they still have Paffett and Turvey for that role, and they also have two ‘proper’ young drivers in Magnussen and Vandoorne in their programme.

    2. I think Ferrari have pedro de-rosa

    3. No idea… I would check the 2013 season Wikipedia page, but *someone* decided it was a clever idea to get rid of test/third drivers from the entry list table. Which was a downright stupid idea.

      1. Indeed a stupid idea

        1. @prisonermonkeys

      2. if only Wikipedia was editable by anyone.

        That reminds me, must insert one direction’s names into random articles.

    4. Are Ferrari still running Gene? Although he’s not exactly what we mean by a young driver is he?

      1. I understood it was explicitly for a driver who has NO races started in F1 before, so Gene would not qualify.
        Maybe Fisi is officially listed as Ferrari’s reserve driver? And Paffet at McLaren?

  2. It’s a real shame the bottom teams aren’t allowed to run 3rd cars on Friday practice like they could back in the days of the T-car.

    I know spare cars are now outlaws in F1’s war on spending, but I do think it would be good to allow them again. A lot of teams want to have more in-season testing, but why not give them a chance to run an extra car in practice instead? It would also allow teams to give their young drivers some proper running without compromising the race for one of their lead drivers.

    1. small teams are doing well to run two cars as it is….

    2. I think it would be best if all day were allowed for practice, instead of the two practice sessions, just like a test day. Therefore teams would have more time for testing new parts and still allow youngsters some time in the cars.

      1. Personally I’d rather they used the Monday after the GP as a testing day, unless races are on back to back weekends or on street circuits.

        That way they could add several testing days to the season without any significant increase in costs as all of the teams staff and equipment would already be at the track – it would also give the fans an extra day of watching F1 during a GP weekend.

  3. I hope they won’t resort to juniors like Gary Paffet if they do use the extra tyres.
    But apart from the risk of irreparable damage, I see no reasons for top teams not to give an old engine to a Rookie and evaluate him.

    1. I do feel sorry for Gary Paffett at times – the guys been with McLaren for what, eight years, and has been overlooked for a race seat what, four times now?

      When they signed Perez you could almost hear the shout of “Oh COME ON!”

      1. I thought this too when I heard that Perez had been signed. I feel it’s probably an age thing in the end. Paffett’s 30 something now so maybe they thought they would be better off trying a young up-and-coming driver instead.

  4. I think the risk of running a third driver and ruining the car (accidents/wear and tear) outweighs its benefits for a top team.

    With the likes of Red Bull and Ferrari fighting for the championship and separated by just a few points over a season, each millisecond of performance is important, I don’t think they can risk it, even when given a new set of tires. Those teams can only afford to focus their energy in getting the maximum each and every race, where the car is suited only to their top 2 drivers (sometimes top 1).

  5. If you think mark weber was unhappy with seb and the team for treating him like a number 2, I think he might crack and go on a killing spree when he has to miss out on a session and hand over his car to a rookie!

  6. Yeah Jenson but McLaren aren’t a top team right now are they?

  7. I don’t think it would happen any time soon, but I’d love to see all the teams running a third car with a young driver for the practice sessions. With in season testing banned this would give the teams some valuable data and it would give the young guys the opportunity to get some needed experience. It would be an added expense, but one that I think most teams would favor.

  8. “I remember my case one year ago I was pretty happy to have some run on the Friday in the Toro Rosso”

    Wasn’t Vergne already a full works driver by then?

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