The official Season 9 Rookie Test took place on Monday 24 April after the double-header Rounds 7 & 8 race weekend in Berlin, and we saw a host of new drivers sample Formula E and the GEN3 for the very first time. Some of those race rookies will be back, no doubt, and we'll see some new faces altogether come Free Practice 0 between 14:30 and 15:00 on Friday, ahead of the Rome double-header.
Teams can field someone who's sampled Formula E machinery before but they must not be drivers included on the Season 9 Entry List and they must not have competed in a Formula E race in their career before. The idea is to give the best young talent a pathway to race at the very top of the motorsport ladder with a taste of Formula E and the opportunity to impress prospective teams in the world's leading electric race series.
The choices the teams have put forward to Formula E and the FIA will be revealed in the lead up to Rome, with Envision Racing already signalling that Jack Aitken will once again be in the car after his outing in Berlin.
What classifies as a rookie?
To be able to take part in the session, drivers must hold either a full E-Licence or at the least a Free Practice only E-Licence. They also can’t have taken part in a Formula E race weekend, so there is no chance you’ll be able to qualify for the session if you’ve already got race experience from a previous E-Prix, for example.
They will also need to complete a specific training session on electrical safety, understand the features of the fully-electric Formula E car, and know the technical and sporting regulations for the championship.
From the various test days given to teams over the season, a maximum of two of the six official days can be reserved for rookie drivers. They can only participate in up to two official test days.
Why do drivers take part?
For those curious about electric racing and competing in the world's leading electric racing championship, it is a fantastic opportunity to try it out first-hand. With the grid always being packed to the brim with such a high standard of talent, finding a seat can be a challenge - so much so, journalists and drivers alike have called the Formula E field the best in motorsport. However, you’re more likely to get the attention of the big bosses if you impress in the test.
Since the last rookie test in 2020, several drivers have made the step up to a full-time race seat. Envision Racing’s Nick Cassidy, Nissan’s Sacha Fenestraz, NEOM McLaren’s Jake Hughes, Nissan’s Norman Nato and NIO 333’s Sergio Sette Camara all qualified as rookies last time out and are now some of the brightest stars on the grid.
What happened last time rookies jumped into the GEN3?
FIA Formula 2 champion Felipe Drugovich (Maserati MSG Racing) set the fastest time at the Berlin Rookie Test; inside the quickest Julius Baer Pole Position effort of the SABIC Berlin E-Prix weekend and just two tenths of a second off the best time set in practice by Maximilian Guenther - in the same car.
The afternoon's running proved quicker than the morning's with Drugovic, Victor Martins (Nissan), Zane Maloney (Avalanche Andretti) and Luca Ghiotto (Nissan) all inside Sheldon van der Linde's benchmark from the opening session.
Drugovic is the incumbent F2 champion and his 1m05.509s lap, set towards the end of the three-hour second session of the day, was only 0.208s slower than the quickest time of the SABIC Berlin E-Prix weekend set by Maximilian Guenther - in the same Maserati MSG Racing Tipo Folgore in Free Practice 2. The time also beat any set in either Rounds 7 or 8 proper.
Reigning FIA Formula 3 champion Martins was a tenth of a second back from Drugovic in the end with FIA Rookie of the Year and current F2 racer Maloney third as the chequered flag was flown.
Former F2 driver Ghiotto added the fourth fastest time in the afternoon to the second quickest time he sealed in the morning's running while Scuderia Ferrari reserve driver Robert Schwarzman and Mahindra Racing reserve Jehan Daruvala rounded out the top six runners.