What Is The Test Driver Job In An F1 Team?

What Is The Test Driver Job In An F1 Team?

In addition to the team’s primary drivers, there are test drivers that ride these F1 beasts from time to time. As an avid Go Kart driver myself and a huge F1 fan, I have always found myself wondering what test drivers actually do for an F1 team, so I took it upon myself to find out! 

Test drivers in F1 perform the bulk of the simulator work and often participate in testing. In the case that the full-time drivers are unable to race in a specific event, the test drivers typically fill in for them.

What Does an F1 Test Driver Do?

If you are just getting into F1, it might look like the F1 test drivers are there to race around the track and have fun pre-race but they actually play a crucial role in the squad and carry out some crucial duties.

What Is F1 Test Drivers Job? 

Test drivers are also commonly known as reserve drivers in an F1 team. When it comes to car development, test drivers have a lot of responsibility. And in reality, the test/reserve drivers usually put in far more effort in the background than the primary drivers do.

These test drivers perform the majority of the simulator work during the race and often participate in the testing of the race car. When an F1 driver is unfit to race or cannot race due to injury, illness, etc., the test driver fills in for them. It is also imperative that these test drivers have an FIA Super License, so teams can ensure that they are just as good as the primary racer in the team! 

Additionally, test drivers are there to test the vehicle and develop new car-related ideas in the simulator. Only one test/reserve driver is usually available for the smaller teams whereas for the larger teams, like Mercedes, Red Bull, and Ferrari, they have a variety of options to pick from in the event that their other driver isn’t available. Many of the test/reserve racers compete in other events and are active racers.

Drivers who have reached the end of their careers and choose to retire from full-time racing occasionally decide to join a team as test/reserve drivers as a chance to continue participating in the sport in some capacity. Examples of drivers who have performed test and reserve driving for a team after announcing their retirement include Johnny Herbert, Jean Alesi, Michael Schumacher, and David Coulthard.

Are There Test Drivers in other Racing Leagues? 

Not all test drivers bear the majority of the work. Some test/reserve drivers compete in different racing disciplines. However, they will still take care of their F1 responsibilities when it is required of them. For instance, Liam Lawson competes in Formula 2 and Nyck De Vries, Sébastien Buemi, and Stoffel Vandoorne compete in Formula E. 

In addition, if you are a Karting junkie like me, you might be interested to know that some very well-known F1 test drivers all started their careers by Go-karting competitively. This includes the following;

  • Stoffel Vandoorne
  • Nyck de Vries
  • Liam Lawson
  • Robert Kubica
  • Michael Schumacher
  • Antonio Giovinazzi
  • Oscar Piastri
  • Paul Di Resta
  • Nico Hulkenberg
  • Jack Aitkin

Who Are The Test Drivers For F1 Teams in 2022?

More than 20 drivers getting ready for the start of the new Formula 1 season in Bahrain, which is just around the corner. Continue reading to find out who they are!

MercedesStoffel VandoorneNyck de Vries
Red BullSebastien Buemi Liam Lawson
FerrariMichael SchumacherAntonio Giovinazzi
McLarenStoffel VandoorneNyck de VriesOscar PiastriPaul Di Resta
AlpineOscar Piastri
Aston MartinNico Hulkenberg
WiliamsRoy Nissani
Alfa RomeoRobert KubicaAntonio Giovinazzi
HaasPietro FittipaldiAntonio Giovinazzi
AlphaTauriSebastien Buemi 

Are F1 drivers allowed to test their cars?

No, unfortunately, they are not. Testing is very restricted and limited in Formula 1. 

The F1 teams utilize the backup driver to test drive an older vehicle. The use of older vehicles for unofficial testing is permitted for Formula 1 teams, and many teams have done it in the past.

The teams must have a driver ready and available to test the vehicle and log some miles in it. Most of the time during these sessions, the test driver will be behind the wheel. The only exception to this rule is preseason testing when the primary drivers will be attempting to log as many laps as they can become familiar with the new race car.

Bottom Line

In Formula One, test/reserve drivers are drivers who are asked to fill in for the main driver if they are unable to compete. Additionally, reserve drivers—also referred to as test drivers—can assist the team in refining the vehicle throughout the year through test drives, practice sessions, and simulator work.

If you have any more questions that you’d like me to answer, be sure to contact me or leave a comment below.

Picture of Dor from GoKart36
Dor from GoKart36

Hi, I'm Dor and since my first lap on a go-kart in Italy, karting became my favorite hobby. I check tracks in many places around the world and am happy to share from my experience.
In my daily job, I am a programmer, and during the season, I race in my local league in the senior category.

More About Me
Phuket Go Kart 390cc 4T

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