The Formula 1 field will fire up for one last time before the summer break with the series’ second in-season test session at the Hungaroring following Sunday’s Grand Prix won by Sebastian Vettel.
With the current regulations dictating that each team must run a ‘young driver’ who has contested fewer than three Grands Prix on two of the four allocated in-season test days, there will be a mix of youth and experience – plus one highly anticipated comeback – over the next two days of on-track running.
After Mercedes ran both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas at the first in-season test in Bahrain, the team’s junior driver and current GP3 Series Championship leader George Russell will have his first on-track Formula 1 hit-out in current-spec machinery after previous tests in older cars.
Runaway FIA Formula 2 Championship leader Charles Leclerc will look to campaign for a promotion to next year’s Formula 1 grid when he gets a run in Ferrari’s Hungary winner, before handing over to regular drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen on Wednesday. The duo, who finished 1-2 in Sunday’s race, will share driving duties on the second day of testing.
Leclerc aside, the field will be well represented by the feeder Formula 2 field, with Luca Ghiotto (Williams), Sean Gelael (Toro Rosso), Santino Ferrucci (Haas), Nicholas Latifi (Renault), Gustav Malja (Sauber) and Nobuharu Matsushita (also Sauber) all getting some track time. The Sauber outing for Honda protégé Matsushita is rather surprising given the Swiss team’s recent confirmation that it had pulled the pin on an engine supply deal with the Japanese engine builder in the days leading up to the Hungarian Grand Prix.
European Formula 3 frontrunner Lando Norris will have his F1 test debut with McLaren-Honda, while fellow F3 driver Nikita Mazepin will have another hit-out with Force India with assistance from his Russian paymasters.
He will share the Force India VJM10 with DTM driver Lucas Auer, the nephew of former Grand Prix winner Gerhard Berger. Auer’s test outing comes thanks to the support of Mercedes-Benz and BWT, the team’s Austrian-based major sponsor.
Stoffel Vandoorne (McLaren-Honda), Max Verstappen (Red Bull Racing, pictured) and Lance Stroll (Williams) – the Canadian a last-minute substitute for the unwell Felipe Massa – will also represent the current crop of F1 drivers at the test.
The major focus of the test, however, will be former Grand Prix driver Robert Kubica, who continues to plot a remarkable comeback from potentially career-ending injuries.
The Polish driver will have his first outing in current-spec Formula 1 machinery for Renault following private test outings for the team in Valencia and Paul Ricard. The fact that the team is giving him a run in this test underlines just how seriously they view his candidacy for a full-time return to the sport.
The provisional driver line-ups confirmed by the teams reads as follows:
|2017 Formula 1 Hungaroring In-Season Test – Provisional Driver Line-up|
|Team / Entry||Driver||Running|
|Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 W08||George Russell||Tuesday & Wednesday|
|Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer RB13||Max Verstappen||Tuesday|
|Scuderia Ferrari SF70H||Charles Leclerc||Tuesday|
|Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM10||Nikita Mazepin||Tuesday & Wednesday*|
|Lucas Auer||Tuesday & Wednesday*|
|Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW40||Lance Stroll||Tuesday|
|McLaren Honda MCL32||Stoffel Vandoorne||Tuesday|
|Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR12||Sean Galeal||Tuesday|
|Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-17||Santino Ferrucci||Tuesday & Wednesday|
|Renault Sport Formula One Team R.S.17||Nicholas Latifi||Tuesday|
|Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C36||Gustav Malja||Tuesday|
* Car to be shared between both drivers
Image via Red Bull Content Pool