All reserve riders for 2023

While the Formula 1 racing team’s regular drivers are household names, test and reserve drivers play an important role behind the scenes. But who are they exactly? Here is our list team by team.

What is the difference between an F1 reserve driver and a test driver?

Additional drivers within Formula 1 teams do not all have the same job title. The terms “third driver” and “reserve driver” are both commonly used, although some teams combine this role.

The third pilot is best described as the test pilot. Teams string them together to help regular drivers and engineers improve the car. From time to time, a third driver can take charge of a test day or a practice session on Friday to better understand the car. Demos or other PR stunts also often fall to the third pilot.

A reserve driver, on the other hand, is on standby during Grand Prix weekends to fill in in case one of the regular drivers is unable to drive for some reason. They are therefore present at most of the grands prix, observing the action in the pitbox. Outside of the race weekend, the reserve driver is also regularly at work in the simulator.

  • Reserve Drivers: Liam Lawson, Dennis Hauger, Zane Maloney
  • Third driver: Daniel Ricciardo
  • Simulator pilot: Rudy van Buren

Red Bull haven’t skimped on behind-the-scenes assists for Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez. Young talent Liam Lawson, Zane Maloney and Dennis Hauger are all on the payroll as official reserve drivers for the main team and AlphaTauri. The trio will alternate during Grand Prix weekends, giving them valuable insight into how things work, with an eye to the future.

In November, Red Bull announced the return of Daniel Ricciardo to the team as a third driver. The Australian wanted to step away from the spotlight after his troubled time at McLaren and was able to rejoin his former employer. The good-natured driver will be responsible for many public relations activities, but will also enter the simulator to support regular drivers.

Finally, Rudy van Buren is the test and development driver of the Red Bull F1 simulator. The Dutchman plays an important role behind the scenes and spends many hours in the team simulator. With limited F1 testing opportunities, Van Buren’s role is very valuable. He is mainly involved in car development and ‘track following’: testing settings and potential updates for regular drivers during GP weekends and making suggestions accordingly.

Rudy van Buren, Red Bull F1 simulator development and test driver

Photo: Red Bull Racing

Aston Martin is opting for a strong internal reserve bank in 2023. In recent years, the team has been able to call on reserves from engine partner Mercedes in the event of an emergency. In November 2022, Stoffel Vandoorne was confirmed as a test and reserve pilot. The Belgian comes from Mercedes, where he played this role for many years. As part of the ambitious Silverstone-based team, Vandoorne will play an important role in the simulation and development programme.

The team has also set up its own driver development program for 2023. Formula 2 champion Felipe Drugovich was the first signing. The Brazilian will start working as the F1 team’s reserve driver and will compete in several grands prix in 2023 to gain experience. In addition, an extensive test program on the Aston Martin of a previous year is on its program.

Drugovich replaced the injured Lance Stroll in 2023 pre-season testing, and looks set to replace him in the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

Philip Drugovitch, Aston Martin AMR23

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

  • Reserve driver: Theo Pourchaire

Top French talent Theo Pourchaire has already been part of the Sauber Academy, the Swiss F1 team’s talent program, since 2019. In October, it was announced that he would become the team’s official reserve driver. This will strengthen the youngster’s ties with the F1 operation.

Theo Pourchaire in the Alfa Romeo C42 during post-season testing at Abu Dhabi 2022.

Photo: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

After three seasons at Alfa Romeo, Antonio Giovinazzi was dismissed by the Swiss team at the end of 2021. The Italian returned to Ferrari as a reserve driver. He also filled that role for Ferrari partner teams Alfa Romeo and Haas in 2022. He appeared for the latter during free practice sessions at the Italian and American GPs.

Robert Shwartzman has been part of the Ferrari Driver Academy for several years. Driving under the Israeli flag, the young Russian has already completed several F1 sessions for Ferrari and Haas. He also completed several days of testing with an old car.

Carlos Sainz, Charles Leclerc, Davide Rigon, Robert Shwartzman, Antonio Giovinazzi, Antonio Fuoco, Frederic Vasseur, Ferrari SF-23,

Photo by: Ferrari


  • Reserve driver: Alex Palou and Mick Schumacher (all season), Felipe Drugovich, Stoffel Vandoorne (first 15 races of 2023)
  • Test and development driver: Will Stevens
  • Test and development driver: Oliver Turvey

McLaren will again employ its own reserve drivers in 2023. In recent years the team has relied on engine partner Mercedes for any emergency replacements. Next season, Alex Palou is the official reserve driver. He is also active in IndyCar.

Mercedes reserve driver Mick Schumacher will also be made available as a replacement, after an agreement was reached with the German team.

The Woking team has also reached an agreement with Aston Martin to have access to its two backup drivers Felipe Drugovich and Stoffel Vandoorne on the first 15 races of the season if necessary.

Behind the scenes, the British team employs several other experienced pilots: Will Stevens and Oliver Turvey. The duo spend a lot of time in the team simulator, where they work closely with the regular engineers and drivers. During the Grand Prix, they test all sorts of changes and improvements in real time in Woking. This helps riders on the track find the best setup and strategy.

Mick Schumacher Mercedes

Photo by: Mercedes AMG


Reserve driver: Mick Schumacher

The Mercedes F1 team has relied on Nyck de Vries and Stoffel Vandoorne as test and reserve drivers in 2022. The pair will start working elsewhere in 2023. De Vries will become a full-time driver at AlphaTauri after his solid performance at the Italian GP. Vandoorne will become Aston Martin’s permanent reserve. Mick Schumacher was named successor after leaving Haas.

Reserve driver: Jack Doohan

Behind the scenes, top talent Oscar Piastri had been groomed by Alpine in recent years for a future as a regular driver. However, the Australian was not confident about the future and decided to sign a contract with McLaren. Jack Doohan has been named the team’s reserve driver for 2023, a role he will complete with a Formula 2 campaign.

Jack Doohan, Alpine A522

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Alpha Tauri

Due to its close ties with Red Bull, AlphaTauri does not have a reserve driver. Faenza’s small team can call on the big brother’s pool instead. Promising youngsters from the Red Bull training program also have the opportunity to gain time at AlphaTauri.

The legendary Grove-based team had Logan Sargeant as a test driver in 2022. However, the young American will be promoted to second racing seat alongside Alexander Albon for 2023. Williams does not employ its own reserve driver. In recent years, they have been able to call on the reserves of engine partner Mercedes when needed. It is not yet known whether this will also be the case in 2023.

Pietro Fittipaldi, Haas VF-22

Photo by: Michael Potts / Motorsport Images

Reserve driver: Pietro Fittipaldi

Pietro Fittipaldi has served as a reserve driver at Haas for the past three seasons. During the Brazilian Grand Prix, team boss Gunther Steiner revealed that a continuation of the partnership would be possible if it fits into Fittipaldi’s racing plans, which has since been confirmed.

Leave a Comment