(Motorsport-Total.com) – “If a driver becomes infected, replacement drivers are ready. It’s just like when a driver gets food poisoning or something unexpected occurs.” These are the thoughts of Formula 1 boss Chase Carey about a possible coronavirus infection of a Grand Prix driver and how the teams could deal with it.
But has every Formula 1 racing team really nominated a replacement driver? Who would take over the car of a regular driver in case of doubt? And what if several drivers should fail at once?
Renault in particular should urgently deal with these questions. Because: The Franco-British factory team has so far not introduced a replacement driver and their own young drivers do not yet have a Formula 1 super license. So you couldn’t step in at short notice.
Comeback chance for Nico Hülkenberg?
Renault team manager Cyril Abiteboul is aware of the problem and says: “We are looking at various options and will present our plans later this month.”
In theory, Nico Hülkenberg would be obliged to take on the role of the Renault replacement, especially since the German drove for the team until 2019. The only question is whether Hülkenberg would just want to help out with the racing team that set him out last year and thus pushed him out of Formula 1.
The situation is different at McLaren and Racing Point: Both teams have contracts with Mercedes that also clarify the replacement driver situation. If necessary, the Mercedes customer teams could fall back on the Mercedes men Esteban Gutierrez and Stoffel Vandoorne. Racing Point would have priority here.
Which team Ferrari would use
Gutierrez and Vandoorne are of course primarily available to represent either Valtteri Bottas or Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes. But other teams can also afford dedicated replacement drivers: Sergio Sette Camara would be employed by AlphaTauri and Red Bull, whereby in case of doubt Pierre Gasly and Daniil Kwjat could move up to the A team; at Williams, the previous Renault tester Jack Aitken is the new reservist.
Photo gallery: The 10 worst Formula 1 drivers of the millennium
# 10 Tomas Enge: In terms of talent, the Czech should not appear in this list, but he stands in the way of a scandal. As a result, Enge’s Formula 1 career only lasts three races. From a sporting point of view there is little to criticize with a title in the German Formula Ford and two third overall ranks in the Formula 3000.
The situation at Ferrari is regulated differently: In the event of a failure of the regular drivers Charles Leclerc or Sebastian Vettel, Alfa Romeo would have to do without Ferrari junior Antonio Giovinazzi. Giovinazzi is an Alfa regular driver on the one hand and a Ferrari replacement driver on the other.
At Alfa Romeo, test driver Robert Kubica would then be in the car, possibly also IndyCar driver Marcus Ericsson, who was the third driver in the Swiss racing team last year. And: Mick Schumacher has already tested at least once for Alfa Romeo (and for Ferrari).
Substitute driver does not have to be substitute driver
The other Ferrari customer team, Haas, even has two young drivers under contract who could both step in: Louis Deletraz and world champion grandson Pietro Fittipaldi.
So much for the theory. It’s hard to predict what would happen in an emergency. A lot is possible, as Ferrari test driver Luca Badoer once had to find out: After Michael Schumacher’s broken leg in 1999 at Silverstone, substitute Badoer was not allowed to get into the car, but Ferrari brought in an external driver with Mika Salo.
To make matters worse, the corona crisis: Due to possible travel restrictions, the selection of potential replacement drivers may be reduced to drivers who are already on site anyway or who could arrive easily and, above all, at short notice.
Formula 1 also requires a negative corona virus test that a driver (or another member of a team) can even join the Grand Prix team.
These are reasons that could lead, for example, to the teams not having their substitutes do simulator work in the factory, but rather taking them with them straight away. In order to minimize the risk of not having to replace your own driver in the end.