Friday morning's FP1 in Abu Dhabi saw a number of unfamiliar names on the timing board, with a host of up and coming drivers jumping into F1 seats to fulfil the sport's requirement for rookie drivers to take part in practice sessions during the season.
A number of drivers have popped up earlier in the season – Aston Martin's Felipe Drugovich, for example – but no session has had as many rookies on the track.
George Russell, notably not a rookie, put his Mercedes at the top of the boards in what Christian Horner called the 'least value session [sic]' of the season.
However, some rookies showed out, with one of them even beating the fastest time of their full-time F1 driver team-mate. But we'll get to that...
The Russian-Israeli driver, competing in the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup this season, recorded the second fastest time of all rookies – and was one of a number of drivers to have a huge snap out on track.
Schwartzman finished just a couple of hundredths of a second behind team-mate Carlos Sainz, despite nearly losing it in turn 3 after some aggressive bottoming from his Ferrari.
FP1 @F1 rookie honours clearly go to Drugovich who goes 0.271 FASTER than Stroll!! Nearest their leader was Shwartzman who should have had Haas drive two years ago just 0.027 down on Sainz! Then comes Bearman Doohan O'Ward Pourchaire O'Sullivan and Vesti with Dennis fastest RB.
Vesti is flying in F2 this season, likely to finish second in the championship in the junior series, but couldn't match Russell in the sister Mercedes. The Dane, who ran in a practice session earlier in the season, finished three quarters of a second down.
Jack Doohan (Alpine)
The most dramatic moment of the session came from Doohan – although through no fault of his own.
Coming up fast behind the Williams of Logan Sargeant toward the end of a fast lap, the Australian was forced to take evasive action as the under-pressure Floridian wandered onto the racing line. On the team radio after the incident, Doohan admitted "I just nearly had the biggest crash of my life".
The Mexican starlet had a relatively sedate session, although social media was abuzz with his hordes of fans celebrating the chance to see the IndyCar man behind the wheel of an F1 car as he celebrated a 2024 reserve driver contract.
He finished just over four tenths behind team-mate Oscar Piastri.
Jake Dennis (Red Bull)
Possibly the oddest moment of the session came early on for Formula E's Jake Dennis, who was forced to come into the pits for a replacement helmet, saying on the radio that his was 'nowhere near tight enough'.
That's somewhat sub-optimal when you're driving Max Verstappen's Red Bull at 200mph, but does beg the question: Just how small is his head?
Isack Hadjar (Red Bull)
In the other Red Bull, making it trickier to judge his and Dennis' relative performances against a senior driver, was Hadjar.
The French teenager held his own against Dennis, the pair finishing 16th and 17th and separated by just hundredths of a second. His headline moment came right at the end of the session, when Lance Stroll – not a rookie, but driving like one – completely failed to get out of his way at the end of a long straight, sending the Red Bull off track to avoid him.
Another driver who had to jump straight out of his F1 suit and into an F2 suit after the session, Bearman unfortunately lapped the slowest of all 20 runners.
However, he did put in a lap time comparable to his more illustrious team-mate Kevin Magnussen, finishing just a tenth of a second behind him. That's likely to mean more to the team than his time in a vacuum.
GPFans is a multi-platform, multi-language brand dedicated to Formula One coverage. We bring you all the ins and outs of the sport, 24/7, everything from up-to-the-minute news and features to the latest viral stories and clips.
We believe that a new generation of exciting, outspoken drivers will make F1 more popular than ever before, and we want to give our users access to as much of their heroes as possible, on and off the track. From Lewis Hamilton to Max Verstappen, Daniel Ricciardo to Sebastian Vettel, we provide in-depth analysis of every every Grand Prix in the season, from Australia to Abu Dhabi.
With Formula One under the new ownership of Liberty Media, how the sport is being covered is evolving, and GPFans will look to be at the heart of this progression into new media, as one of the fastest-growing sites covering the king of motorsports.