Race Weekend Central

Slipstream Saturdays: The Reserves, Junior Teams & Academies

(Editor’s note: Formula 1 moved the typical race weekend schedule up a day to observe Ramadan, which falls on Sunday. Frontstretch is following this schedule, which pushes the usual Slipstream Saturdays column onto Friday for the next two weeks. Enjoy the start of the F1 season.)

All 10 teams on the Formula 1 grid field two drivers in every single race.

But they aren’t the only two drivers employed by the team. Each team, per the rules, has at least one reserve driver. In addition to simulation work and PR events, reserve drivers stand by as a ready option in case of any emergency befalling one of the team’s regular drivers.

In addition to the normal reserve driver, teams must also field a driver with at least 30 FIA Super License points and one or no starts in F1 in two race weekend practice sessions, one in each given car.

All but two teams have a given junior or academy team, with both teams having strong connections to or sharing the junior team with other teams on the grid.

Finally, F1 requires each team to, at least, sponsor a driver in F1 Academy, the all-female feeder support series in its second season. Most teams push these drivers directly in their junior program, while Red Bull decidedly does not feature them as official junior drivers with the full resources afforded to them.

Let’s take a look now at each team’s reserves. Note that for junior teams, I’m only going to list either given reserve drivers or drivers in F2, F3, or F1A. Most teams have a large Formula Regional, F4, and/or karting lineups.

I stuck with the rule of thumb of sticking to drivers in the series covered on Formula Frontstrech, Frontstretch.com’s first Bluesky account, and the new home for our Formula 1 social content.

Alpine

Alpine’s chief reserve driver is Jack Doohan, the son of legendary motorcycle rider Mick Doohan. The younger Doohan has decided to force a path on four wheels, as the Australian’s only job is to support Alpine after finishing third in F2 last season.

Victor Martins and 2023 F3 champion Kush Maini represent the Alpine Academy in the 2024 F2 competition. Maini scored the first F2 pole of the season in Bahrain before his time was disallowed due to a ride height infringement. Both drivers must prove themselves on a very loaded F2 grid this season.

Gabriele Mini followed up his seventh place in F3 last season, with another year in the third tier. Alpine will also be represented on the grid by former F4 Spanish champion Nikola Tsolov and Sophia Florsch.

The team’s representative in F1A is Abbi Pulling, a 20-year-old Brit who finished fifth in points in the first season of F1A.

Aston Martin

Something you’ll learn going through junior programs is that not everybody is Alpine or Red Bull. Aston Martin only has four drivers in their coffers.

Felipe Drugovich is the team’s official reserve driver. The 2022 F2 champion did a solid job in the 2023 pre-season testing, where he stood in for an injured Lance Stroll in two sessions. Since then, he’s focused on testing the team’s 2021 car all around Europe.

After finishing ninth in the 2022 W Series season, Jessica Hawkins became the first woman to test a modern F1 car in five years. She piloted the 2021 Aston Martin around the Hungaroring last year and currently serves as a driver ambassador to the team. Swede Tina Hausmann is the team’s F1A driver, with just a single podium in the Formula Winter Series, and is her only podium in 16 starts in F4 championships.

Born in Charlotte and having grown up in Houston, Jak Crawford is one of just two Americans in F2 this season and will sport Aston Martin racing green.

Ferrari

The Prancing Horse has several reserve drivers and academy members. Former Alfa Romeo/Sauber F1 driver Antonio Giovinazzi is one of two reserve drivers with enough Super License points to race in F1, along with 2021 F2 runner-up Robert Shwartzman. Arthur Leclerc, Charles Leclerc’s younger brother, also serves as a development driver for the team.

One of the favorites for the F2 championship this year is Oliver Bearman, who is looking to improve on his sixth place in last year’s championship. The Scuderia also supports Dino Beganovic, who also finished sixth in his championship last year, F3.

17-year-old Aurelia Nobels from Boston will sport the legendary yellow Ferrari emblem in F1A this season.

Haas

The only team without an official junior program, Haas uses engine supplier Ferrari’s star academy driver Bearman as a reserve driver. Bearman is heavily considered a favorite for a seat at Haas next season on the F1 grid as long as things stay as they are now.

The team also has a long relationship with Pietro Fittipaldi, who raced for them twice in relief roles in 2020 and has quite a varied racing career. How many other drivers can say they have raced in Formula 1, IMSA, WEC, and been a Hickory Speedway track champion? Fittipaldi will serve as a reserve/support driver when not busy with his full-time IndyCar commitments this season.

To Haas’ credit, in light of the recent Andretti controversy, they do have an American driver on the payroll now. Chloe Chambers has won in Formula Regional and sports car competitions. The 19-year-old will represent Haas in F1A.

McLaren

McLaren has only recently revamped its development program, which once supported Lewis Hamilton from karting to an F1 world championship.

Pato O’Ward of IndyCar and Ryo Hirakawa of WEC are the team’s reserve drivers, with Mercedes reserves also available to the team due to both drivers being busy with their respective series. Gabriel Bortoleto represents the team in F2, while Bianca Bustamante is part of the program while driving for them in F1A.

Mercedes

Perhaps the most hyped junior series driver of all time, Andrea Kimi Antonelli, is a serious candidate to take Hamilton’s seat at Mercedes in 2025. The kid has won just about every championship he’s seriously competed for. He already has the Super License points to qualify for an F1 license; he, unfortunately, won’t meet the age requirement until August.

Until then, the second-generation Italian race car driver will have to race in F2, after completely skipping F3. He should be a serious threat in any series he stabs at.

Outside of Antonelli, the only non-F4 or karting driver the Silver Arrows employ is Doriane Pin, an Iron Dame in WEC who also has a great chance at winning her given series in F1A.

Mick Schumacher is still with the team in addition to his duties driving for Alpine in WEC, while Frederik Vesti serves alongside him as a reserve.

Red Bull

The hallmark of junior teams, Red Bull devotes tremendous resources towards its junior program. The two lead drivers in it would likely be reserve driver Liam Lawson, who is heavily rumored to have a clause in his contract guaranteeing him a seat on next year’s F1 grid, and now Super Formula driver Ayumu Iwasa.

Red Bull has divested itself a bit from having what felt like half of the F2 and F3 grid under their roof, but they still have six big ones. Isack Hadjar and Pepe Marti are the two F2 drivers, while Oliver Goethe, Arvicd Lindblad, Kacper Sztuka, and Tim Tramnitz are the team’s F3 drivers.

The team even has their own “Academy Program”, consisting of the three MP Motorsports drivers in F1A- Emely de Heus and sisters Amna and Hamda Al Qubaisi.

KICK Sauber

Reigning F2 champion Theo Pourchaire is spending this season in Super Formula. The Frenchman has been very close to a seat at the main Sauber team multiple times but has lost out to Zhou Guanyu each time. For now, he has to be content as the team’s reserve driver.

Zane Maloney of Barbados drives for Sauber in F2 and looks to make a leap this season after finishing 10th in points in 2023. German Carrie Schreiner finished 11th in F1A last year and returns for her second season there with Sauber.

Williams

Williams will likely use Mercedes reserves for their rookie practice requirements and emergencies.

Perhaps the most vulnerable driver on the F1 grid this season is Logan Sargeant, and F2 drivers Zak O’Sullivan and Franco Colapinto will be looking to make their case for Sargeant’s seat this year. Luke Browning will return to F3 this season after winning the Macau Grand Prix over the winter.

The most fascinating driver on the F1A grid this season is Lia Block. With a rallying background thanks partly to her late father, the legendary Ken Block, the 17-year-old is almost brand new to single-seaters and will have plenty of eyes on her. Jamie Chadwick is also still involved with the team, as she races in Indy NXT.

We are now within the Formula 1 season after a long winter. This year’s first two races will be unique in that they will be contested on Saturdays instead of Sundays. Lights out for round one, the Bahrain Grand Prix will come at 10:00 a.m. ET on Saturday, March 2nd. Coverage will be on ESPN.

About the author

Michael has watched NASCAR for 20 years and regularly covered the sport from 2013-2021. He moved on to Formula 1, IndyCar, and SRX coverage for the site, while still putting a toe in the water from time-to-time back into the NASCAR pool.

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.

Share via