The head of Ferrari’s Driver Academy has stressed that the long-term development of its juniors is its priority and says they are not in a “shootout” for a 2021 Formula 1 seat.
Ferrari has five of its junior drivers in Formula 2 and three of them are in contention for the title.
Mick Schumacher currently leads Callum Ilott by 22 points and both will make their FP1 debuts at the Nurburgring next Friday.
Schumacher will replace Ferrari reserve driver Antonio Giovinazzi at Alfa Romeo while Callum Ilott will step into Romain Grosjean’s car at Haas for the opening 90-minute practice session.
Fifth-placed Robert Shwartzman, in his rookie campaign, has taken three victories – the same number as Ilott and one more than Schumacher – and will make his FP1 bow in Abu Dhabi.
Neither Alfa Romeo nor Haas have confirmed their 2021 driver line-ups and both run Ferrari power units.
Alfa Romeo has fielded Ferrari-linked drivers for the past three years, with Giovinazzi preceded by Charles Leclerc, while Haas ran then-Ferrari reserve Esteban Gutierrez in 2016.
“It’s a good problem to have and that’s the sort of thing we want to deal with,” said Ferrari’s FDA chief and Sporting Director Laurent Mekies at last weekend’s Russian Grand Prix on the issue of having three front-running juniors.
“The guys are doing a very good job, Mick and Callum have progressed significantly and they are solid leaders of the championship, Robert in his first year is pretty much playing with these guys straight away.
“It doesn’t give us a headache, it gives us a lot of possibilities and options for the future, and that’s exactly why we have the FDA for.
“We are not in a shootout mood, we are in a mood where let’s find out to make sure they keep building.
“We have seen it with Charles, with many other exceptional drivers before him, it is about developing.
“The development certainly doesn’t stop when you are at the door of Formula 1, it is only the second chapter which will also involve development so we need to make sure we support them in that development. It is with that in mind that we build our programme.”