Ahead of the São Paulo Grand Prix, Aston Martin made a little bit of news. The team confirmed on Thursday that Felipe Drugovich would return as their test and reserve driver for the 2024 season. Drugovich currently serves in that role for the team this season.
In addition, Drugovich will participate in the first practice session ahead of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, driving in place of veteran Fernando Alonso.
Drugovich was called upon to step into Lance Stroll’s seat during pre-season testing, when Stroll suffered an injury during training and could not participate. Aston Martin Team Principal Mike Krack pointed to that effort in the team’s official announcement.
“Everyone at Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team is incredibly pleased that Felipe will be staying with us in 2024,” said Krack. “He’s a familiar face within the team; he understands the particular demands of the role, has a tremendous work ethic, and has shown his speed and experience after stepping in superbly for an injured Lance Stroll during pre-season testing in Bahrain.
“Every time he gets behind the wheel, we clearly see the strength of his contribution: his pace, feedback and commitment are all extremely valuable to our engineers. We are already looking forward to him rounding out his season in style with another opportunity to drive the AMR23 during FP1 of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix,” added the Aston Martin boss. “We look forward to another productive season together next year.”
For his part, Drugovich pointed to everything he learned during his first year in such a capacity.
“I’m really proud to be continuing to work with Aston Martin for a second season. This year, I’ve learnt a huge amount – not just at the racetrack, but working with the engineers in the simulator and from the development programme that was designed for me,” said the driver. “I’m proud of the contribution I’ve been able to make, and pleased that I’ve been able to help progress the development of AMR23. My focus now shifts towards preparing for the upcoming FP1 session at Abu Dhabi – I’m already looking forward to driving the AMR23 again – and to the work I’ll be doing with the engineers over the winter to prepare for 2024.”
The announcement may reverberate around the paddock, particularly over at Williams. Just one single seat remains unclaimed for the 2024 season, the second seat at the team currently occupied by American rookie driver Logan Sargeant. Williams Team Principal James Vowles has made it clear that the team wanted Sargeant to succeed in that role, but they have yet to confirm that Sargeant will be back in that seat for 2024.
While Sargeant scored his first F1 points at the United States Grand Prix — thanks to disqualifications to Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc that pushed him up into the points — Sargeant was forced to retire his FW45 in the closing stages of the Mexico City Grand Prix.
But Drugovich returning to Aston Martin removes one of the few drivers who were perhaps an option for Williams next season. Another to watch remains Liam Lawson, who was the odd driver out at Red Bull/AlphaTauri. Lawson is set to take on a reserve roll with Red Bull next year, but could be considered as an option for Williams on loan.