The Force India Formula One Team have confirmed that Alfonso Celis will participate in the first free practice session of the Bahrain Grand Prix.
This announcement comes despite Alfonso having not yet achieved the required performance related results in junior categories to be granted a full FIA Super License. Upon querying how the team have come to this agreement, this writer was referred to Appendix L of the FIA International Sporting Code, in which it states:
5.2 Qualifications for Free Practice Only Super Licence
5.2.1 The driver must be the holder of a current FIA International Grade A licence.
5.2.2 The driver must be the holder of a valid driving licence when he applies for a Free Practice Only Super Licence for the first time.
5.2.3 The driver must be at least 18 years old at the start of the event of his first F1 race weekend.
5.2.4 a)The rest time he applies for a Free Practice Only Super Licence, the driver must successfully complete a question session regarding the most important points of the International Sporting Code and of the F1 Sporting Regulations.
b) For all successive Free Practice Only Super Licence requests, the F1 team concerned has to certify, through the F1 Super Licence application form, that they have held a briefing with their driver about the most important points of the International Sporting Code and of the F1 Sporting Regulations.
5.2.5 The driver must be judged by the FIA to have consistently demonstrated outstanding ability in single-seater formula cars. The F1 team concerned must show that the applicant has driven at least 300 km in a representative Formula One car(1) consistently at racing speeds, over a maximum period of 2 days, completed not more than 180 days prior to the application and certified by the ASN of the country in which the test took place.
5.2.6 The driver will be on probation for a period of 12 months, during which the Free Practice Only Super Licence will be held provisionally and subject to review at any time.
This work around for drivers to participate in Free Practice without the required results to take part in a race allows teams to maintain a revenue stream from ‘pay drivers’ which may have otherwise been shut down. It can be expected other teams will take advantage of this regulation through the season.
This license does not replace any requirements for a full racing super licence. As such Alfonso Celis would not be permitted to act as a reserve driver for the Force India F1 Team.
To download the sporting code appendix in full click here.