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Take five - Fresh Friday faces // An exciting line-up of drivers could see practice session action

Published by Christine

Pocket F1 Handbook 2014

There are so many changes for the upcoming Formula One season that it could potentially be a confusing year, unless you get your hands on a copy of the Pocket F1 Handbook: Guide to the 2014 Grand Prix Season. It's packed full of driver biographies and team profiles, plus a handy update on the new regulations, plus which tracks F1 will be visiting this year. There's also a top ten list of things we should be looking forward to this season, and to celebrate F1's imminent return, we're counting down five of the items right here. Today features the second of five, and takes a closer look at who may be in the car on a Friday.

The 2014 class of F1 drivers has seen quite a shake up from the previous year, with only two teams retaining both their drivers from last season. Everyone else features at least one driver change, with Caterham featuring an all-new line-up for the coming year. It’s not just in the race seats where things have changed, however, we’ve also got some shuffling around the paddock in regards to the test driver roles as well.

It’s long been established that the opportunities to get some seat time in an F1 car are few and far between before a driver is signed for their debut season. That being the case, the occasional young driver testing becomes very important, as does the ability to give seat time to a new face on a Friday. It’s not clear whether the unpredictable nature of the 2014 season will lessen the opportunities available to third drivers or not. There’s a trade-off between investing in the future and getting some mileage for the youngsters, or letting your racers spend time in the so-far unreliable machinery.

Regardless, there are a few new names signed to the teams for 2014, with a couple promised seat time during a handful of Friday practice sessions.

TeamTest driver(s)
CaterhamRobin Frijns, Alexander Rossi
FerrariPedro de la Rosa, Marc Gené, Davide Rigon
Force IndiaDaniel Juncadella
Lotus F1Charles Pic, Nicolas Prost, Marco Sørensen
MarussiaTBC
McLarenStoffel Vandoorne
MercedesSam Bird
Red BullSébastien Buemi, António Félix da Costa
SauberGiedo van der Garde, Simona de Silvestro, Sergey Sirotkin
Toro RossoSébastien Buemi
WilliamsFelipe Nasr, Suzie Wolff
Nicolas Prost, Pastor Maldonado, Romain Grosjean, Charles Pic and Marco Sørensen E22 launch
Prost, Pic, and Sørensen complete Lotus' line-up

The list of test and/or reserve drivers seems to fall into three main categories: Those who are looking to break into Formula One, those who have already raced in F1 and are hanging around on the off chance a seat becomes available, and those who really should have moved on by now. Actually, it looks like there’s only one driver left in that final bracket, so maybe times are changing.

Both Caterham drivers from 2013 were ousted from their race seats at the end of the season, but both have found refuge at other teams. Charles Pic moves to Lotus F1, which previously would have been seen as a huge step up but at this point is more of a question mark. Giedo van der Garde joins Sauber, who are racking up a very interesting and large number of drivers-in-waiting. Alongside the Dutchman, they’ve signed Simona de Silvestro as an affiliate driver, which won’t mean time spent in the car on Fridays, but is still a breath of fresh air at the Swiss team.

Suzie Wolff has had something of a promotion over at Williams, where her development driver role has been expanded to include a couple of practice sessions. Williams have also made the amusing move of signing Felipe Nasr as a test driver, which isn’t going to get confusing with race driver Felipe Massa, at all.

Overall, the test driver roster for 2014 looks like a good mix of experienced drivers and fresh blood coming through. Hopefully there will be plenty of opportunity for them to cover some miles as the season unfolds, as the early pre-season evidence suggests the teams could use all the help they can get!

All content in the series Five things to look forward to in 2014