Updated: Feb 28
Covid-19 has impacted Formula 1 massively in the last 18 months. Races have been cancelled and some drivers have even missed races due to contracting the disease. When the drivers miss races, the teams have to find a replacement. This has been interesting for the fans, they get an opportunity to see how drivers will do in different cars. We have seen drivers like Robert Kubica and Nico Hulkenberg get to have another chance in an F1 car. We have also seen drivers like Pietro Fittipaldi and Jack Aitken get their lucky break for an F1 drive. In this article I will be stating who I feel would be each team’s best choice as a substitute driver.
Written by Dylan Free, edited by Tanishka Vashee
This was definitely the easiest one to choose, as he is confirmed as a Mercedes driver for 2022, and has already subbed in for Lewis Hamilton at last year’s Sakhir Grand Prix. I am of course talking about George Russell. The current Williams Driver has got the most out of every car has been in and would do as good a job as any of the best drivers in the world in the Mercedes car.
The obvious option for Red Bull would be to bring in reserve and former driver Alex Albon, and that would be that, right? No, definitely not. Alex Albon is a good driver and as much as i think he deserves a second chance in a Red Bull, Pierre Gasly deserves it a bit more. The Frenchman has given us reason to believe that he would take that chance and prove that he deserves a shot at the top level of Formula 1. So Gasly would come up from AlphaTauri and Alex Albon would replace Gasly at AlphaTauri.
McLaren’s strong reserve drivers are much to the help of their Mercedes power unit. They have a great choice between former driver Stoffel Vandoorne, current Formula E world champion Nyck de Vries, and also Paul di Resta. If I was the man making the decision I would go for Nyck de Vries, who won the 2019 Formula 2 championship, and also the 2021 Formula E world championship, but has never had an opening in F1. So given his proven talent I would go for the Dutchman.
Nico Hulkenburg filled in for both Aston Martins (Racing Point in 2020) drivers last year, and finished in the points on his two race starts. His performances show there is a slim chance of anyone being better equipped for the job than the experienced German.
If Alpine ever needs a replacement driver for the remainder of the 2021 season, they have Russian driver Daniil Kvyiat waiting in the wings for his chance to shine in Formula 1 again. Unfortunately for him, Alpine has a lot of talented academy drivers chomping at the bit to get an opportunity in F1. The two most likely to get a chance are current F2 championship protagonists, Oscar Piastri and Guanyu Zhou. As much as they deserve a chance it is unlikely that they would risk bringing in a rookie driver in the midst of their midtable battle with AlphaTauri and Aston Martin, so I think Kvyiat would get the seat.
If either Pierre Gasly or Yuki Tsunoda needs to be replaced for a race weekend, they have Alex Albon as their reserve. The 2022 Williams driver drove for the team when they were Torro Rosso in 2019 and his strong performances saw him get promoted to the main Red Bull team.
Robert Kubica has already subbed in for Kimi Raikkonen this season in the Dutch and Italian Grand Prix so he remains Alfa Romeo’s best option. If they really wanted to, they could bring in second choice reserve, Callum Ilott.
The current Haas reserve driver is Pietro Fittipaldi and he was used to replace Romain Grosjean last year when Grosjean had his big accident. If they ever need to replace someone this year, he would likely be the man to do so. However, they would potentially put F2 driver Robert Shwartzman in their car due to his Ferrari links and Haas’s Ferrari Power Unit.
If I had done this article at the start of the season I would have chosen Dan Ticktum as Williams’s best choice. Things have changed though, as he made his thoughts clear on current driver Nicholas Latifi, he is no longer an option after being dropped from the Williams academy. Now their best option would be to bring in Jack Aitken, the current reserve driver for Williams.