Three back-up drivers were drafted into action in 2020 through a mixture of illness and injury, with Nico Hulkenberg, Pietro Fittipaldi and Jack Aitken having unexpected outings. MotorsportWeek.com provides an overview of who’s in reserve for 2021.
When reigning World Champions Mercedes needed a stand-in last December it reached an agreement with Williams over the services of protégé George Russell. Officially Mercedes has its Formula E drivers, Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries, as its reserve drivers, and has been linked with Nico Hulkenberg in the event of a clash between Formula E and Formula 1 rounds. Vandoorne spent two years racing for McLaren across 2017/18 while both he and de Vries tested Mercedes’ W11 in Abu Dhabi last December. Under an arrangement that began last year McLaren will once more have Mercedes’ reserve drivers available if required.
Red Bull Racing has two-time podium finisher Alexander Albon on its books as reserve driver. Albon spent two years racing in Formula 1, stepping up from Toro Rosso to Red Bull mid-2019, and will be present at all grands prix this year. Albon, who will run a partial DTM campaign, will also be back-up for AlphaTauri.
Another ex-Red Bull driver is in reserve in the paddock, with Daniil Kvyat signing for Alpine. Three-time podium finisher Kvyat spent much of his six-season career with Red Bull’s junior squad but was left without a full-time 2021 seat after being replaced at AlphaTauri by Yuki Tsunoda, and has instead picked up a standby position with Alpine.
Ferrari’s official reserve driver is once more Alfa Romeo racer Antonio Giovinazzi. The Italian was appointed as Ferrari’s reserve in 2017 but since 2019 has plied his trade on the grid for the marque’s customer team. Alfa Romeo, meanwhile, again has former BMW, Renault and Williams racer Robert Kubica on standby and he is poised to participate in select FP1 sessions in 2021.
Haas and Williams have also opted for continuity, with Fittipaldi and Aitken staying on as the respective reserve drivers, having both made their debuts in Bahrain last season.
Aston Martin, which turned to Hulkenberg on the three occasions it needed a stand-in last year, has yet to officially nominate a reserve driver.