Young driver test that wasn’t so young

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault F1 Team. Renault F1 Team Film Day, Tuesday 13th October 2020. Barcelona, Spain.

Renault test Driver Zhou and Fernando Alonso will get behind the wheel of the Renault R.S.20 cars for a one-day post-season test held at the Yas Marina Circuit on Tuesday 15 December.

Shanghai-born Zhou is currently eighth in the 2020 FIA Formula 2 Championship with one win and five podiums. The 21-year-old has completed five days of F1 testing in 2020, with runs in the R.S.18 car in Budapest, Bahrain and Abu Dhabi, the latter of which were alongside Fernando, who returns to the sport in 2021 after a two-year hiatus.

Cyril Abiteboul, Team Principal, Renault DP World F1 Team:

“We would like to thank the FIA and F1 for their acceptance of our test plans, made in recognition of our commitment to young drivers throughout junior motorsport and to Fernando’s own dedication to furthering the careers of young talents.

“Zhou has experienced the benefit of the Renault Sport Academy, having joined its ranks last year. He has worked hard and made a genuine contribution to the performance of the team through his work in the simulator and test programme. I am delighted he can drive the R.S.20 to complement his journey so far.

“For Fernando this will be the next step in his return. He has worked tirelessly to make sure he is as ready as he possibly can be for 2021. He wants to contribute fully – not just to the team, but to the fans and the sport he has missed in the past two years.”

Now here is where this gets funny. This test was supposed to be a young driver Formula 1 test after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Renault successfully lobbied the FIA to get Fernando not eh ticket and it seems Sebastien Buemi is expected to drive for Red Bull and Robert Kubica for Alfa Romeo.

Now, Ferrari have entered the ring lobbying for Carlos Sainz, of all people, to drive for them. The teams will have two cars at the test with Ferrari slated to use Robert Shwartzman and Antonio Fuoco.Fuoco would be the likely candidate to miss out not eating should the FIA agree to Sainz driving.

“I’m willing to test for Ferrari,” Carlos said.

“I think it’s no secret, especially now that the hand has been opened a bit by the FIA for drivers that are not rookies, or not young drivers, to test, I don’t see why the FIA wouldn’t open the hand a bit also to all the drivers.

“Personally, I wouldn’t take any young driver out of the seat.”

This is shaping up to be the young driver test that wasn’t for young driver so to speak.

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As if wasn’t hard enough for rookies to get track time, now this.

I know you (NG) and Paul will disagree with me, but I think having FA for 2021 is a massive mistake. He doesn’t have it anymore and he is too divisive, especially with Cyril in there too.

I’ll happily admit to being wrong if it doesn’t turn out that way, but I just don’t see it.


That’s a very good question, which unfortunately I don’t have a good answer for you. The Hulk unlikely as they only just got rid of him, I guess if they had know that Sergio would have been available they could have snapped him up.

charlie w

This is wrong on so many levels beside the title. It’s hard enough to get rookie drivers in F1 these days but these veterans are squeezing out those who may, some day, replace them in those cars. The FIA should had firmly told Renault “no!” on allowing Fred Alonso to drive in the young drivers’ test. And if the teams want to orient its newest(and more experienced) employees in their machinery, then the FIA should have one more pre-season test solely for that purpose at a track not on the 2021 schedule and limit that session to 4 hours using… Read more »

Peter Riva

Please, stop, I have tears running down my cheeks I’m laughing so hard… they keep labeling “tests” with qualifiers (age, tires, etc.), changing and adding more specs for the technical stuff… and continually have to say “Oops, we didn’t mean…”
Safety? Let them test.
Try-outs? Let them test.
Look when hiring new pilots–even ones with 2,000 hours behind the yoke in the military–simulation and paperwork only go so far. Every airline, every corporate jet pilot undergoes a test flight, or ten… what the heck’s wrong with F1’s mentality here.
Lord, it is laughable.


Um, maybe you could complete the Chinese driver’s name? His name is Guanyu Zhou. Not sure he’s yet earned the right to go by one name only, like Schumacher or Hamilton or Vettel, etc.