Formula 1 is figuring out a way to bring in more Formula 2 drivers to take part in the Friday general practice sessions, according to Ross Brawn.
Many of today’s stars made their name when they first took hold of an F1 car driving in the practice sessions. Drivers like Sebastian Vettel and Robert Kubica came to the attention of teams while driving in the practice sessions
The program was abandoned by the end of 2006 season. The teams are still free to choose other drivers apart from the regular race drivers during the practice sessions.
Brawn feels using an F2 driver as a replacement for an indisposed F1 racer at short notice would be unwise and dangerous without enough time for practice runs.
“Putting someone into F1 who hasn’t got the experience is a risk,” he said.
“You have to prepare them as well as possible, maybe doing the Friday morning practice.
“Those sorts of initiatives are important before they get exposed.
“If they have a problem [and] they get into F1 the wrong way, then their careers could be damaged.
“I don’t think replacing Felipe [Massa, who was forced out of the Hungarian Grand Prix with illness] with an F2 guy would’ve been very fair, because they would’ve had very little time to get into the car.
“There’s a better-structured way of doing it, but that’s the sort of thing we want to do.
“Friday practice – we’ve started looking at more positive initiatives to get the young guys to have an opportunity to drive – that sort of thing [is] what’s being discussed at the moment.”
Is F1 missing a MotoGP-Moto2-Moto3 type of ladder, Brawn replied “I think it is” and the changes that started after Liberty Media took over F1 will give “an opportunity to create that progression”.
He added: “Wouldn’t it be great if we had a young guy coming in, he was a star in F3, a star in F2 and then he does a [Max] Verstappen-like entry into F1.
“That’s what we want to see.
“By having those races at an F1 grand prix, the fans can start to engage with them.
“It has so many benefits – commercially and from a sporting perspective – that we’ve got to make it work.
Brawn also sees a possibility of using F2 to test format tweaks before rolling out the rule changes to F1 since both the series belong to the same group, Liberty Media.
“Because we’re all under the same umbrella, why would you not want to see how you can develop ideas [and] concepts?” he said.
“F2 is very committed to the reverse grid which works very well for them, but they have some different commercial considerations, so [F1] may not necessarily follow.
“And of course they have two races which F1 doesn’t.
“We’ve started to look at the safety car restart procedures, different grid formations for the start – things like that can very easily translate from F2 to F1.”
Liberty Media is taking an active interest in overhauling the sport from all angles, making it more systematic and logical. They are replacing all the bits and parts changes that came into F1 earlier as a reaction to situations, rather than proactive changes to make things better.