I’m guessing his management want to put him in a racing series to assess him before they commit him to a larger programme. After all, he’s managed by Genii, and they’ve got a whole host of young drivers in their programme: Marlon Stockinger, Marco Sorensen, Alex Fontana, Esteban Ocon, Oscar Tunjo, Alex Albon and Dorian Boccolacci. Of those drivers, Stanaway probably slots in somewhere behind Stockinger and Sorensen, but ahead of everyone else. They no doubt want to give him a larger programme if he’s up to it, but they don’t want to commit him too early and then find they wasted a seat that could have gone to Fontana, Ocon, Tunjo, Albon or Boccolacci.
I was expecting the same too, but even FR3.5 years are expensive, and maybe they lost money with him being out for half of last year (or regained it back with his replacements?). Looking at the performances of Sorensen and Stockinger this year, I have to say I think Richie would be doing better than Stockinger for sure, maybe he can come back next year into the series. But if not, I’d say he looks set to at least continue in racing on the Supercup bill (follows F1) and that’s better than nothing after such a horror crash/injury. He could also continue with sim-racing on iRacing in the virtual Drivers World Championship, but I imagine that’s not as fulfilling as winning in real series. I wonder what would have happened if he did a year of GP3 last year and came top 3 in that series..