Overview: Who's in reserve for 2017?

Overview: Who's in reserve for 2017?

20 March 2017 – Formula 1 teams have traditionally employed test, reserve or development drivers to either act as back-up to regular racers or as a stepping stone to a potential full-time seat. GPUpdate.net takes a look at those in reserve this year, as well as the legion of young drivers on academy programmes.

Mercedes: Role not filled

Mercedes enters 2017 without having officially nominated a reserve driver, though it has three junior drivers on its scheme, two of which will race in Formula 1. Pascal Wehrlein (Sauber) and Esteban Ocon (Force India) have both tested for Mercedes, while new recruit George Russell could be in line for mid-season running, alongside his duties with ART in GP3 this year.

Red Bull/Toro Rosso: Pierre Gasly

Red Bull will once again employ the services of Pierre Gasly as its official reserve driver. Gasly formally stepped up to the role in late 2015 and has participated in six test days with Red Bull and Toro Rosso. Gasly claimed last year's GP2 title and this season will dovetail his commitments with a race programme in the Japan-based Super Formula category.

Ferrari: Antonio Giovinazzi

Ferrari, having dispensed with the services of Esteban Gutiérrez, has hired GP2 runner-up Antonio Giovinazzi as his replacement. Giovinazzi could carry out Ferrari's in-season test running, and filled the breach at Sauber in place of the injured Pascal Wehrlein for the opening pre-season session. The Italian will also conduct simulator duties and be present at race weekends.

Force India: Alfonso Celis Jr.

Having joined Force India as development driver, Alfonso Celis Jr. has stepped up to the role of test driver for 2017. Celis Jr. completed four test days and six practice sessions in 2016, as he immersed himself within the Silverstone-based team, and receive a day's worth of action in the VJM10 pre-season. Celis Jr. will compete for Fortec in World Series Formula V8 3.5 this year.

Williams: Paul di Resta

Williams has retained the services of Paul di Resta, the Briton who raced for Force India between 2011-13, scoring 121 points and a best of fourth place. Di Resta also competes in DTM and acts as a pundit for Sky Sports, though his F1 experience means Williams will need another driver for half of the in-season test days. 

McLaren: Jenson Button

Few teams in history have been able to call on the talents of a World Champion as reserve, but that's what McLaren has in its armoury this year, after Button stepped down from a race seat at the end of 2016. Behind Button, who is officially an "advisor and observer", McLaren has F2 racer Nobuharu Matsushita and Formula E's Oliver Turvey on hand, who have both been retained as test and development drivers.

Renault: Sergey Sirotkin

Sirotkin's first foray into Formula 1 came as a lanky, raw teenager with Sauber, though a planned promotion to a race seat never materialised. Sirotkin returned with Renault last year, and this season becomes its reserve driver. Sirotkin participated in two practice sessions and a test day with the manufacturer last year and also placed third in GP2, with two race wins.

Haas/Sauber: TBC

Neither Haas nor Sauber has acquired a reserve driver for 2017, though both have links with Ferrari, prompting speculation that Ferrari-backed GP3 champion Charles Leclerc could have a role with one team this year, following on from his Haas runs last season, as he steps up to F2. DAMS GP3 racers Santino Ferrucci (Haas) and Tatiana Calderón (Sauber) are tied to their respective teams as development drivers, rather than reserves. 

Young drivers involved in F1 team academy schemes:

Pascal Wehrlein – Formula 1 with Sauber
Esteban Ocon – Formula 1 with Force India
George Russell – GP3 Series with ART Grand Prix

Red Bull:
Pierre Gasly – Super Formula with Team Mugen
Niko Kari – GP3 Series with Arden
Richard Verschoor – Formula Renault 2.0 with MP Motorsport
Neil Verhagen – Formula Renault 2.0 with MP Motorsport
Dan Ticktum – Formula Renault 2.0 with Arden

Charles Leclerc – FIA Formula 2 Championship with Prema
Antonio Fuoco – FIA Formula 2 Championship with Prema
Guan Yu Zhou – FIA European Formula 3 Championship with Prema
Giuliano Alesi – GP3 Series with Trident
Enzo Fittipaldi – Italian Formula 4 with Prema
Marcus Armstrong – Italian/German Formula 4 with Prema

Force India:
Jehan Daruvala – FIA European Formula 3 Championship with Carlin

Nobuharu Matsushita – FIA Formula 2 Championship with ART Grand Prix*
Nyck de Vries – FIA Formula 2 Championship with Rapax
Lando Norris – FIA European Formula 3 Championship with Carlin

Santino Ferrucci – GP3 Series with DAMS

Jack Aitken – GP3 Series with ART Grand Prix
Jarno Opmeer – Formula Renault 2.0 with MP Motorsport
Max Fewtrell – Formula Renault 2.0 with Tech 1
Sun Yue Yang – Formula Renault 2.0 with JD Motorsport

Tatiana Calderón – GP3 Series with DAMS

Nirei Fukuzumi – GP3 Series with ART Grand Prix
Tadasuke Makino – FIA European Formula 3 Championship with Hitech GP

*Matsushita is also backed by Honda



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