until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula E

Formula E tones down new F1-style rule after team pressure

by Sam Smith
3 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula E has toned down its plan for a new Formula 1 style rule compelling the use of rookie drivers in practice sessions, following pressure from teams.

The revised plan will be seen in the paddock as a compromise between FE teams and the FIA.

Now teams will only have to put a rookie in their car for one free practice session during the 2023 season. Originally the rule had dictated that this must happen twice.

An additional session for rookies will now be run at a specific event.

The original rule was largely unpopular among the teams because it meant disruption to planned work at races and jeopardy at the mostly run-off-poor street tracks.

Several teams told The Race recently that they would likely park their cars after installation laps if the rule had been driven through in its entirety.

The Race revealed last autumn that all bar one of the teams had pushed back against the plans. The topic was raised again at a sporting working group meeting at Valencia last month with teams voicing concern specific to the combination of rookie drivers in the new Gen3 cars and the risk to racecars in the time limited track running that is offered at E-Prixs.

Formula E Mexico City E Prix 2023

The change from two to one rookie outings in free practice sessions comes after an e-vote took place last week and the relevant sporting regulation article of 32.6 was amended.

The change means that the vast majority of teams are likely to choose one of the Berlin E-Prixs in April to use their rookie drivers. This is due to the wide expanses of run-off at the Tempelhof airfield circuit making it less likely that practice incidents will incur damage that might disrupt the regular driver’s weekend.

It is therefore expected that, in all but name, a rookie test session will take place prior to the first Berlin E-Prix on Friday April 21 or on Saturday April 22.

There is no clash with Formula 2 or Formula 3 that weekend, meaning that an influx of drivers from the main F1 feeder series is expected to attend the Berlin event.

Jehan Daruvala

Only three FE teams have so far announced drivers that could be eligible for the new rule. Jehan Daruvala for Mahindra and David Beckmann for Porsche have been hired as official reserve and development drivers this season, while Alice Powell continues in a similar role for Envision Racing.

Last month at Valencia, McLaren team principal, Ian James, said he backed the concept of the rule but wanted the rookies’ opportunities to be meaningful.

“If we’re going to have a successful future for this series we need a talent pool which is as good as it can be, and that means we need to give drivers – rookies – who are yet to have a chance, a genuine shot at proving their abilities,” James told The Race.

“We need ultimately to make sure this is as attractive as it could be, and the way we run the rookie test is going to be of paramount importance to that.”

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