Formula 1's Next Generation takes the spotlight in Abu Dhabi's first free practice

The list for the first training ride will not be the one we are used to

by Sededin Dedovic
Formula 1's Next Generation takes the spotlight in Abu Dhabi's first free practice
© Mark Thompson / Getty Images

The Formula 1 world championship is set for an exciting twist this weekend at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, as several teams prepare to field young drivers in the first free practice session. This decision comes as teams look to fulfill their obligations under the rules for young drivers, which mandate that each team must provide at least two free practice sessions to rookies throughout the season.

Alfa Tauri has been the most proactive team in this regard, having already given Nick de Vries, Liam Lawson, and Isak Hajjar the opportunity to experience Formula 1 machinery. Williams and McLaren, each with one debutant this season, have also been diligent, with Zac O'Sullivan and Jack Duane both set to make their FP1 debuts in Abu Dhabi.

Fresh faces to take the stage in Abu Dhabi's first free practice

The Red Bull garage will see a fresh face in each car, with Isak Hajjar taking over Max Verstappen's seat and Jake Dennis behind the wheel of Sergio Perez's machine.

Mercedes and Ferrari will also welcome young drivers, with Frederik Vesti replacing Lewis Hamilton and Robert Schwartzman stepping into Charles Leclerc's car. McLaren has opted to bring in IndyCar star Pat Ovoord to replace Lando Norris, while Fernando Alonso will hand over his car to Felipe Drugovic.

The identity of the cars that Jack Duane and Jack O'Sullivan will drive for Alpine and Williams, respectively, is still to be confirmed.

Young drivers will certainly be motivated to prove themselves

Alfa Romeo is also set to introduce a new face, with Theo Purcher replacing Guanyu Zhou.

Oliver Berman will take over Nick Hulkenberg's car, completing the lineup of young drivers set to make their mark in Abu Dhabi's first free practice session. This influx of fresh talent promises to add an extra layer of intrigue to the weekend, as these young drivers aim to impress and showcase their potential for the future of Formula 1.