Red Bull juniors Juri Vips and Liam Lawson will participate in Formula 1 free practice sessions in 2022 for the first time, fulfilling F1’s new young driver practice ruling.
From this year teams are mandated to run rookies in at least two Friday practice sessions during the season.
Rookies are defined as any drivers who have completed two or less F1 grands prix.
Vips, who has participated in the post-season Abu Dhabi test in both 2020 and 2021, is currently scheduled to drive Red Bull’s RB18 in two practice sessions this year.
The Estonian has been a Red Bull junior since 2018 and most recently finished sixth in his first full-time Formula 2 campaign in 2021 with two victories for Hitech GP.
Vips remains with Hitech for a second year in F2 this season and the 14-round calendar begins alongside F1’s season-opener in Bahrain.
His 2021 team-mate Lawson, who finished ninth in F2 last year with one win and narrowly missed out on the DTM title after a controversial finale, will drive in practice for the AlphaTauri team with whom he completed the post-season Abu Dhabi test with (pictured above).
“It will be Liam Lawson,” AlphaTauri boss Franz Tost said when asked who would drive for AlphaTauri as part of the new rookie rule.
“And of course, this is also a decision from Red Bull. Currently, the drivers are Liam Lawson and Vips, I think that Vips will drive for Red Bull Racing and Lawson for Scuderia Alpha Tauri.
“He was also testing with us last year in Abu Dhabi, he did a good job, he is driving this year in Formula 2 and then we will see what the next steps will be.”
Tost’s phrasing leaves the door open for change, which isn’t out of the question considering Vips and Lawson are two of five juniors racing in F2 this year.
Dennis Hauger won the FIA F3 title last year and will compete with defending Formula 2 champions Prema alongside fellow Red Bull-backed driver Jehan Daruvala who is lining up for his third year in F2.
Honda protege Ayumu Iwasa will make his F2 debut with the DAMS outfit that has recently been taken over by ex-F1 driver Charles Pic.
Alpine is likely to use its reserve driver and reigning F2 champion Oscar Piastri who missed out on a race seat in 2022.
Mercedes’ highest-placed junior is F2 rookie Frederik Vesti while Ferrari has 2021 F2 runner-up Robert Shwartzman as its reserve driver.
Late last year, Williams added F2 driver Logan Sargeant to its junior ranks and the team’s reserve driver Jack Aitken, who made his F1 grand prix debut with Williams at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix, would be eligible as he’s only competed in one race.
Additional reporting by Edd Straw