How could F1 implement "guest" drivers?

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    Ben Needham

    As Fernando Alonso embarks on an exciting challenge in the form of the Indy 500, it got me thinking about how F1 could adopt a similar approach of allowing guest drivers in for individual, one-off races. This might not be something everyone would like, but from my point of view it would add another layer of intrigue if some/most weekends we had a driver from IndyCar, DTM or WRC trying his hand in a Formula One car… or even a young up-and-comer from GP2, or an old favourite (Rubens?!) back for one last shot.

    I think it’s a really interesting prospect that should be considered. How it could be implemented is a different matter, as the rules in Formula One are already complex as they stand. I would envisage that the following could work:

    Each team gets two ‘joker’ Grand Prix, where they can deploy a third car featuring a special guest driver. This driver would have to be approved by the stewards of the event to prevent truly useless pay drivers (or even competition winners) ending up ruining the racing. The driver would not score points and would simply be racing for pride, or for the team’s purposes to tactically further the chances of the regular drivers.

    Do you like the idea of guest drivers? How would you have it work?



    It’s an intriguing idea. The main issue I can see are how would teams that are struggling to compete currently going to afford to produce another car? Maybe they could make the money back with a pay driver for the race but it’s unlikely. I think there’s also the issue of what happens if for instance Mercedes fielded an extra drive next race and they were involved in a crash with Vettel. Any punishment to the driver is meaningless as it’s a one off race but could potential decide the championship.
    Perhaps this idea could be merged with the idea of a non-championship race though? Allow any teams that want to or can afford to to run a third car for that race with a guest driver in?



    Hey Ben,

    I don’t mind the idea of a guest driver on face value but not sure how it would work logistically. Alonso has certainly opened this up for interest and different points of view that may not have been expected.

    As pointed out above a guest driver for one particular team would be hard. It would have to be non-points scoring and not to influence year end payments (or pay them all equal anyway……..hmmm…….. that may work). But when you think all F1 teams have the exact same garage (tools placements etc) as they have back at home base at the factory you cant just add a 3rd car and expect the other teams just to shuffle down one (Its is actually true at a few pit lanes they don’t have the same size garage, the further down you go the less space – not sure if this is true for all races though – when McLaren fell from grace they had to stack their tyres outside.

    So the only way I can see this working is a specific “Guest team”. They have drivers for a one of race or stay for a few. To have 5 – 8 top racers from all over the world in one car over a season would be fantastic !!

    But again, logistically and logically what team would be in F1 to race and fund ‘wanna be’ drivers for the others teams to take them? (ok ok- Toro Rosso- I put my foot in that one lol)!! Well it would to have money and a car (and PU) that could show enough competitiveness to make it worth while. With so many teams struggling financially one conclusion would have to be a team funded by Liberty or FOM, which in itself opens up so many questions the mind boggles!! That just wont work.

    Love the concept, but not sure how it could actually be implemented well and fairly. I am looking forward to others ideas- great post Ben!!

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