Russian Grand Prix – The first practice session in Sochi will see four rookie drivers take part, as McLaren, Force India, Renault & Sauber have all opted to run drivers from their youth programs.
Some twenty percent of the Formula 1 field will be rookie drivers in Friday’s FP1 session in Sochi, as four teams have confirmed replacements for the session.
McLaren have confirmed that Lando Norris, the man they have signed to replace Stoffel Vandoorne in 2019, will take part in FP1 as part of his preparation for next season. He will then immediately run over to the Formula 2 paddock for practice as he continues his weekend with the Carlin Racing team. McLaren Sporting Director Gil De Ferran said that “Lando will once again drive in FP1 in Russia, which will be a busy weekend for him, as he combines his F1 duties with his F2 championship campaign. Nevertheless, this will hopefully be another positive step in his development.”
Sauber will be fielding Antonio Giovinazzi, the man who is strongly rumoured to be taking Marcus Ericsson’s seat and be Kimi Raikkonen’s teammate in 2019. Giovinazzi has raced in two Grands Prix before, having driven in the Australian & Chinese races last year. He has maintained his links with Ferrari & Sauber and some sources have already reported that a race seat deal has already been signed. For now, the deal is unconfirmed.
Artem Markelov will get to drive in front of his home crowd as he takes over Carlos Sainz’ cockpit for the session. The young Russian driver is Renault’s Test & Development driver and is currently racing in his fifth season in Formula 2. However, there’s no prospect of him racing with the team in 2019 as they have already confirmed Daniel Ricciardo alongside Nico Hulkenberg for next season.
Force India’s Nicholas Latifi will also be on track, as the Canadian driver takes part in the session before also resuming his Formula 2 duties. He will be driving Sergio Perez’s car. The team are yet to announce their driver line-up for 2019, although Latifi is not considered a frontrunner for one of the seats since the takeover of the team by the Lawrence Stroll-backed consortium Racing Point.