Should F1 teams test before racing?

Mark Webber, Red Bull, Hockenheimring, test, 2008, 470150

For the second race weekend in a row F1 teams are testing at the circuit where they will next be competing.

Three days of testing conclude at the Hockenheimring today ahead of the German Grand Prix a week on Sunday. But does testing on race tracks so close to a race weekend risk making the races duller?

(Update: I’ve added a poll to this article)

It seems to me that if teams are able to test at Grand Prix venues immediately before racing there it reduces the potential for differences in performance between the teams and drivers.

With a total of four days’ practice instead of one each team is more likely to get the optimum set-up for their cars, reducing the chance of one of them going the wrong way on set-up and falling behind cars they are usually quicker than.

The Circuit de Catalunya, home of the Spanish Grand Prix, often sees very poor races. This year there were only two passes for position during the race. Is this because the teams get to test here so often there is less variation in performance between them than usual?

However I think there is something to be said for allowing teams to test at Grand Prix venues before the race weekend begins. If it had happened at Indianapolis in 2005 perhaps that particular debacle could have been avoided. What do you think?

Should F1 teams test before racing?

  • Yes (24%)
  • No (54%)
  • Not bothered (22%)

Total Voters: 138

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25 comments on Should F1 teams test before racing?

  1. Interesting question. And certainly the Indy remark shows an other side of the issue.

    My first thought, however, is to not have teams test at tracks where a Grand Prix will be held a week or so later. And my second thought is to not have teams test at Grand Prix circuits at all.

    Why not appoint other, non-GP tracks as official test circuits, and make a four-day test session into a mini-GP or a Mini Prix? Broadcast the sessions via internet, have spectators at the track (for mini prices, too) et cetera.

  2. Terry Fabulous said on 10th July 2008, 7:34

    This a black and white issue.
    NO THEY SHOULD NOT.

    One word Catalunya, a difficult circuit which should be a set up challenge but instead is incredibly dull since as Alonso said, he feels he could do laps with his eyes shut.

    Indianapolis was a debacle for special circumstances and shouldn’t be attributed to the teams not being able to test before the event.

    In fact, the idea of testing before an event is just moronic.

    I have to take my pills now.

  3. Pedro Andrade said on 10th July 2008, 8:04

    I agree with what’s been said, no testing whatsoever should be done in tracks where Grand Prix will be held in that particular season.

  4. Architrion said on 10th July 2008, 8:16

    I will say it with an extra long speech

    YES.

    I want more races
    I want more practice sessions
    I want more testings with more pilots

    YES AND YES, and let me add, YES

  5. f1freak said on 10th July 2008, 8:24

    i think the testing shouldnt be allowed on the f1 tracks…cuz then if there is no rain the results are pretty much presictable…
    e.g if you are going to give ur a-levels or gcsc’s or whatever u call them u dont get to practice on them before giving the actual paper.

    p.s hamilton has set he fastest lap on hockenheimring for consecutive two days…hmmmmmmm. kimi is pretty close.. look out for adrian sutil..

  6. I say YES too. If the drivers don’t learn the track , how are they going to get the best set ups and how will the rookie drivers learn the circuit? Both of which will lead to BETTER RACING!
    It surprised me when the French testing was done at Paul-Ricard instead of Magny-Cours. And I do think the Indy experience is very relevant, as it would have allowed more time for Michelin to bring the correct tyres for the race!
    Also, given that there is such a reduction in testing allowed now, and that some teams (such as SuperAguri) have suffered from not being able to get to the separate testing events, it makes more sense for a testing session to be held before most races – it might even help cut down on transportation costs…..

  7. Robert McKay said on 10th July 2008, 8:29

    Why are they there? What is the official reason? I can understand that the traditional testing venues have been Catalunya and Silverstone. The pre-race test at Monza is done on the grounds of safety as the teams are running such unique downforce packages at it. But why are they testing at Hockenheim? It’s a rip-off for fans who go and pay money to watch a session and see cars sitting in the garage because they got a setup the week before. And, yes, it does make for duller races.

    The teams are sitting there moaning about how a 20 race season will be unfair on the employees in terms of workload, but if you just turn most of the during-the-season test sessions into race weekends the workload will be pretty much the same as it is now!

  8. Tols said on 10th July 2008, 8:41

    No, never. Except for Monza (the only high-speed track at the moment), but not later than 3 months for the race. I understand teams have to test at representable tracks, so why not follow the MotoGP example: test AFTER the race. I modern days team tend to be overprepared for races. This combined with the limitation on motor and gearboxes leads to lesser driving on friday. This is not good for the fans on friday. I agree with Robert McKay, race more, test less and stop moaning about costs. And, please, get rid off these bitterly ugly winglets and curved wings.

  9. Jonesracing82 said on 10th July 2008, 8:41

    no, they did this in the early 2000’s and the races were dull, and in a way, it gets rid of the element of randomness that makes the races exciting!
    in fact, they should not be allowed to test at any F1 GP track for that year!
    another point, they do the testing, y not have a race that weekend instead?

  10. Scott Joslin said on 10th July 2008, 9:35

    I see what we are trying to get at however I don’t think it always makes for a predictable weekend. The teams are trying new parts and systems and in different conditions to the race.

    Certain teams had great tests at Silverstone, yet could not translate that to the race weekend – Williams for example.

    I think Barcelona is not a comparable example, if the race is dull I don’t think it is down to the testing, more that the configuration of the track makes for a boring race.

    Also if it saves money, in that the teams will want to go testing anyway, why should they all have to drive somewhere else, when they are all going to end up at that circuit in a few days anyway?

  11. Noel said on 10th July 2008, 9:40

    Tols makes a valid point. Test at the circuit AFTER the Grand Prix. That way, it won’t affect the race, and all the gear, support etc will already be at the venue, reducing costs.

    Sounds like good sense to me.

  12. Architrion said on 10th July 2008, 10:09

    What makes dull races is the extreme different performances each car can give…. testing is less important about this. 2000 year was boring because of the extreme domination Shumi and Ferrari put on the grid. If you balance team performances then you will have close racing…. and one factor that do improves poor performances is testing.

    We could put some kind of handicap on testing using WCC points, allowing worst team to test more than better ones. Ie: current Ferrari constructors leader would not be allowed to test, current second BMW could test one day, McLaren, third, one day and a half, Toyota, two days, and the rest of the pack three days.

  13. Robert McKay said on 10th July 2008, 10:20

    “and one factor that do improves poor performances is testing.”

    That’s a fair point, but any benefit in, say, Force India testing is lost if Mclaren also test. In essence, testing is all about the teams running to stay still. There are very few tests which bring about a large change in position of one team. I’d say at least 85% of a teams maximum potential performance is already locked off come round 1. All testing does, usually, is move all the teams forward by more or less the same time increment, at large expense. It adds considerably less to the show than another Grand Prix would.

  14. Robert McKay said on 10th July 2008, 10:23

    “We could put some kind of handicap on testing using WCC points, allowing worst team to test more than better ones. Ie: current Ferrari constructors leader would not be allowed to test, current second BMW could test one day, McLaren, third, one day and a half, Toyota, two days, and the rest of the pack three days.”

    That’s not a bad idea at all.

    Of course a lot of the time it’s the money to go testing in the first place the smaller teams struggle to find.

  15. Architrion said on 10th July 2008, 10:27

    Robert, you make sense. So it would be a good point to introduce this rule:

    less world constructor championship points = more testing hours.

    It would be perfect to reintroduce balance between teams with no expense at all.

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