F1 should bring back testing as an event

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Fans wait to meet Lewis Hamilton at last year's F1 test at Silverstone
Fans wait to meet Lewis Hamilton at last year's F1 test at Silverstone

Michael Schumacher’s return to F1 and Jaime Alguersuari’s debut in Hungary has sparked a debate over the problems with the ban on testing during the season this year.

The ban was intended to cut costs, but it has caused problems for teams wishing to evaluate new drivers.

I think F1 is missing some valuable opportunities by not having testing during the season. Here’s my proposal for bringing it back.

The World Motor Sports Council agreed to ban testing for nine months in 2009 (with some exceptions) shortly after Honda’s shock withdrawal from F1 last year.

Last year much of the in-season testing was done in Spain. This meant teams incurred the costs of transporting their cars to distant circuits and back again.

The remainder were often conducted in the run-up to Grands Prix on the same circuits where the teams would be racing. Although it was cost-effective, as it fit in with the teams’ travel schedules, it meant they were less inclined to do running early in the Grand Prix weekend, meaning worse value for money for spectators at the event.

Could they combine the two approaches and get the best of both worlds?

What if a limited number of tests were allowed per year? These could be at circuits other than Grand Prix venues, but near to them.

For example, the pre-Italian Grand Prix test could be held at Imola, just a few hours away from Monza. Similarly before the German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring, the teams could test at Hockenheim.

Public entry to the tests could be charged (at a much lower rate than race weekends, of course), drivers could do autograph sessions and perhaps the paddock area could be opened up a little more than it is at hectic Grand Prix weekends.

There is definitely a demand for such an event in F1’s heartland countries. Last year Silverstone sold 5,000 tickets at ??12 each for its three-day pre-race test (??30 for all three days), which was held on weekdays.

There could also be ‘rookie only’ tests for teams looking to evaluate up-and-coming drivers. This would help the likes of Red Bull, who replaced Sebastien Bourdais with the untried Jaime Alguersuari. Similarly Nelson Piquet Jnr’s likely replacement, Romain Grosjean, has only driven the 2009-spec Renault in straight-line aerodynamics tests.

Given that F1 fans have so few opportunities to see modern F1 cars in action – just 17 races this year – I’m sure test sessions could, with a little imagination, be reintroduced as extra mini-events on the F1 calendar.

What do you think? Should they allow some testing during the season next year?

See pictures from last year’s Silverstone test here: Pictures: Silverstone F1 test paddock

59 comments on “F1 should bring back testing as an event”

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  1. Yes, and surely they could combine it with some other series’ demonstration races to keep it more varied and interesting.

  2. Brilliant idea. However, being as jaded as I am from observing the constant politics that go on in F1 I have to say it won’t fly. While FOTA would most likely try to introduce something along these lines Williams will have an objection to it. :-)

  3. GooddayBruce
    5th August 2009, 13:44

    Hells yeah!

    What about using a track in the US, with top drivers from the US scene testing alongside regular F1 drivers and young prospects?

    I think we could go further – why not some non-championship Grands Prix? Hamilton, Alonso, Vettel vs Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon at Elkheart Lake or somewhere? I would stay up late to see that.

    The only solution to less testing is to have more racing. A non-championhsip, FOTA run grand prix would surely not be beyond the realms of possibility and would certainly put Max and Bernie in their place.

  4. how about replacing the current scheme w/ tests on an oval? arent people compaining about the noise around airfields where they do the straightline tests? and airfields dont have grandstands…

  5. I think everyone agrees with Keith its great. But if it in anyway benefits the average joe fan, then I have a feeling the FIA won’t allow it. As far as I can tell, they are prett anti-not rich people.

  6. Why not winter testing (pre season) and about this time have 2 more testing session on a agreed/selected track. This way they can test new drivers when others are taking a break,

  7. people who support the testing ban are nuts!! thats all i can say.

  8. YES, them never should be banned in the first place… We own our thanks (again) to Mr. MAD Max Mosley for that…

    It’s cazy – the teams are testing aero improvements on matchbox models and small vans…

    And this is the top of technological achibements…

    Poor F1… poor us how love it… God damn the powers that allow (I know it all) the rising of a star – Schumi – because ratings went donw after Senna dies and then created a monster that they couldn’t control, have givven a lot of vantage to Ferrari, rating went down again because the damn bozo have the races won before even starting… and now, after he won everything it was to win, break every record there was, bring back the 40 year dude again – it’s a splash, rating will go up again, for sure, everybody wants to see what’s going to happen – will he do something, will he do nothing?… Will we laught of it – will FIA start introducing a clown per race to keep Bernie’s and their own pocket’s full?… We never know – them already prove to all of us that they can do whatever they want and, no matter how stupid it is, they get away with it and nobody can do nothing (execpt the teams – retire all and leave two old men playing with matchbox formula 1 car from the ’60s… Man I’m so tired of all this ‘formula one’… I just wanted to see good races, fair and normal rules… Keep the safety improovments and return to the ’80s… That’s an ideia! Remeber Keke Rosberg’s 1.000 horse power Williams? Remmeber Dallas, all those REAL stars, all those GREAT tracks… now all we get is those frigid tracks from that german guy nobody ever heard before many Bernie ‘invent’ him to do some drawings of new tracks. I admit – the edifications on the new tracks are nice, related to local tradition, but the tracks have no soul… there’s no history, everythin is design with a rule and a compass… I wonder if Silverstone was even drawn on a paper before they make the first race race – now that’s a track with a lot of soul, maybe the one that has more…

    1. YES, them never should be banned in the first place… We own our thanks (again) to Mr. MAD Max Mosley for that…

      I guess you don’t realize that I was the teams wo proposed to cut testing? Mosley simply accepted their proposal. You can hardly blame Mosley for that!

  9. I think the friday practice sessions should simply be changed to a test day…
    Most teams realize on the sunday if what they brought was competitive or not. Also, what’s the point of testing parts that will be replaced / be obsolete for the next GP. I don’t think you would get to see much action on mondays.

    I think it should be 8-12am 3rd/test drivers only, 1-5 race drivers only.

  10. I think a complete friday testday could be great (altough you need to get the other classes to drive).
    The day(s) after the race is a good solution too. MotoGP has been doing it indeed, they would be testing a lot for sure!

  11. Bring back non-championship races as a chance to test more parts and give fans more action.

    You could visit Adelaide the week after Melbourne, Magny-Cours after Monaco, Hockenheim after Nurburgring, Imola after Monza and Fuji after Suzuka. That keeps costs down and ticks most of the boxes, and all of these races should attract a good crowd

  12. This Monday test idea is the best thing since sliced bread. Just for a couple of GPs a year (obviously not street circuits!)

    The drivers can still go home on Sunday, so that’s ok. Now how can we get this idea to the FIA…?… hmmmmm

  13. How about this idea. It is mainly to help “test” drivers and younger drivers, but what if during the winter testing they had 3 or 4 pre-season races. The thing is, it is only the teams test drivers that take part in the races. That way the teams get to test new parts in race conditions plus test driverw will get to live up to their names.

  14. Good ideas here!
    I think a combination of the above is the best solution:

    During season
    – 5 one-day tests after the race on monday, 3 cars allowed (and engines, gearboxes tyres etc)
    – 4 one-day tests in the same country as the race also with the three cars

    Pre / after season
    – 3 multiple day tests on any circuit the team(s) like; the circuit may not be on the GP calender; with a limit on the number of miles.
    – 4 rookie races, ALL on Maranello, and all revenues (tickets, television) equally divided with all the teams.

  15. Keith, your pagan practice of common sense is not welcome in F1 :)

  16. I totally agree with you.
    It should be held at places which is easy for the teams and host no F1 race.

  17. I am all for testing, they need to do something. They could even extend practice days, time, etc…or something.

  18. The track at Portugal is really good and it is a shame it is so under used. I think more events ought to be organised here, not least F1. And only 10 minutes from the track at Portimao is a 5 bed villa that we rent out so I also have a vested interest!!

    I really can’t wait until F1 comes back to Portugal and at this fantastic track. Testing is important and I think that with this year’s events it has shown it is required. As good as Schumacher is what if something happens to him??? It could also raise additional revenue for the sport.

  19. Testing should be allowed. I think if testing were allowed, BMW would have benefited a lot and might have stayed. Maybe not but i sure would not like to see teams quitting F1 just because of this silly testing ban rule.

    Ferrari and Mclaren are top teams, they did well without testing and sorted their well off the pace cars, i am afraid if teams like Toyota or Renault had gotten it wrong(to Mclaren’s level), they wouldn’t have reached anywhere near good points let alone podiums like what Mclaren and Ferrari achieved. It would have been very tough for them and they would have complained a lot about this testing ban rule.

    I hope this testing ban stuff don’t get serious and have negative effects on F1.


  20. I like the monday testing idea alot. But the powers at be dont seem to be keen.

    I have an idea for a testing event that happens once a year in the vein of an All Star Weekend/Teams Showcase. The venue can be awarded to different countries each year like the Champions League Final.

    At the mid point of the season, just after the break, all the teams start a 3 day test on Wednesday as per normal, then on the weekend they all compete in a series of challenges to see who is the best team.

    Challenges include:
    – Rookie(not current F1 drivers) quailfying/race program (25 laps).
    – Pitstop time trial – In lap, tyres, outlap.
    – Car handling slalom time trial.
    – Elimination drag competition (no kers)
    – Standard car quali/race (like race of champions, all drivers in identical cars – eg, Formula Ford, WSBR)

    All competitions earn points for teams, winning team is crowned at the end with a trophy. No WCC points, just good PR for sponsors.

    What you think?

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