F1 should bring back testing as an event

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

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59 comments on F1 should bring back testing as an event

  1. adz2193 said on 5th August 2009, 17:47

    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

  2. John H said on 5th August 2009, 18:14

    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

  3. Brian said on 5th August 2009, 19:56

    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.

  4. verstappen said on 5th August 2009, 21:13

    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.

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

  6. wasiF1 said on 6th August 2009, 2:18

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

  7. Shevon said on 6th August 2009, 4:46

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

  8. 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.

  9. JUGNU said on 6th August 2009, 19:16

    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.


  10. Tlux said on 7th August 2009, 1:14

    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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