Should in-season testing return? (Poll)

Circuit testing during an F1 season has been almost entirely banned since the start of last season

But now several prominent figures in F1 have voiced a desire to bring back in-season testing in the near future.

Would increasing the amount of testing allowed be good for the sport? Or are there better ways to use expensive track time than testing?

For

Ferrari’s recent use of a ‘filming day’ to run the latest upgrades for their F10 provoked discussion over the revival of testing.

McLaren team principal and FOTA president Martin Whitmarsh put the case for it:

A little bit of testing in F1 would be the right thing. We had to take significant measures, given the crisis that our economy and F1 had, but I think now as we can see and feel signs of the economy improving, then hopefully we can go back to testing.

F1 is about running cars. I think drivers enjoy testing, the teams enjoy going testing and developing cars, so I think it is a good thing to do and progressively, as the health and well-being of the teams develop, then hopefully we can do it.
Martin Whitmarsh

Yesterday HRT’s Geoff Willis urged the teams to find a way of making testing a regular part of the F1 calendar:

While it was sensible to stop unrestricted testing, a better balance would have been to have certain fixed testing times common to all teams and wrap up a commercial operation around it.

You have to remember that there are often fairly large gaps when there is no F1 in Europe and we could have one test in Spain, one in Italy, one in the UK, something like that.
Geoff Willis

Against

The most obvious downside of increasing testing is the cost. As Willis explained, even a small increase in the amount of testing could have a disproportionately large effect on teams’ budgets:

Unless the calendar was particularly sympathetic [it] would mean going back to requiring an additional test team. Unless you can synchronise the calendar and actually use your race team to do the tests, but that might be difficult and would probably take a couple of years to work out.
Geoff Willis

There have also been beneficial effects from the testing ban. Teams have been much busier during race weekend practice sessions, as they are now their best opportunity to try new parts.

Previously it was not unusual for some teams to sit out most or even all of some practice sessions at race weekends. Where’s the sense in having cars pounding around a deserted track for hours then hiding in their garages a few days later when thousands of spectators have paid to see them?

I say

I think it’s an encouraging sign that teams feel they are able to increase the amount of activity they are involved in during a season. But I don’t think it automatically follows that more testing is the best thing to spend it on.

Given a choice between more testing and more races, and I’ll always pick more races.

Allowing a small amount of testing would be worthwhile – with certain restrictions. For example, teams may only use drivers not currently active in the world championship, and all the teams have to test together and only at venues not currently used for F1 races.

But I can’t see any value in going back to the days of teams covering more ground in testing than they do on race weekends.

You say

More races or more test sessions? Or both? Cast your vote and leave a comment below.

Do you want more racing or more testing?

  • I would like to see more test sessions but not more races in Formula 1 (26%)
  • I would like to see more races but not more test sessions in Formula 1 (19%)
  • I would like to see more races and more test sessions in Formula 1 (49%)
  • I wouldn't like to see more races or more test sessions in Formula 1 (6%)

Total Voters: 2,099

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105 comments on Should in-season testing return? (Poll)

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  1. Yep agree, if testing is to come back it should be limited and focused on young drivers, so we don’t have the situations we have had in the last 12 months where Rookie drivers are learning to drive an F1 car during the race.

    Testing is important, it helps the engineers but more importantly it provides an opportunity for the ‘next generation’ to gain an education before stepping in on race day.

  2. Todfod said on 1st July 2010, 7:50

    I think that teams that havent quite perfected their package at the beginning of the season can play catch up and close the gap to the leaders. For example, teams like Virgin, HRT and Lotus would be more competitive if they had the option of testing this season. I’m not saying that the top teams wouldn’t get stronger, but it gives all the teams a chance of developing their cars, and hopefully there would be more than just one or two cars dominating an entire season.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 1st July 2010, 8:07

      I think your perfectly right on this Todfod.

      Also the ideas of Willis (from a small team) are nice. Make it a nice show, with test drivers driving the cars and a healty part of the grid joining for team meetings and mainly fan moments.
      Have Michael, Vettel, Sutil, Glock and Rosberg moderate a fan event in Germany (Lausitsring or maybe the A1 ring in Austria), Lewis, Jenson, Webber, and maybe Heikki in the UK (not sure what track). Have Alonso, Pedro, Jaime there in spain (at Motorland Aragon, or make it Portmao instead), make Liuzzi, Massa and Buemi be there in Italy, or even better in the south of france.

      Sure the testing should be limited and maybe allow more running for those further back in the standings. Have FOTA pay for the event and make money with tickets (put please not too expensive) and fan events. Combine it with road show events.

      That would

  3. The problem is that with increased testing and races teams and drivers will be very tired. And lets not forget that teams have to take alot of componets to each test. I think that F1 should have 20 races, and a little of in-season testing. Also great article Kieth!

    • Kanyima said on 1st July 2010, 12:19

      Ever heard of test drivers Nixon?
      Wonder where you got the thinking that teams will be very tired too! Haven’t they done it before for a long time before the last couple of years? Aren’t they yearning for it?

      • Cacarella said on 1st July 2010, 13:44

        Many years ago they would have had a completely different ‘testing’ team that sole purpose was to test and develop the car. Getting rid of this second team is what has helped reduce the costs associated with testing. If they were to start testing again they would probably have to use the main team (I think this is what Geoff Willis refers to in his interview), which would in fact tire everyone out except of course the ‘test driver’ as you’ve mentioned (and I’m sure Nixons heard of them).

  4. Chris B said on 1st July 2010, 8:01

    I think testing could be added onto the race weekend, but had to be completed by non-race drivers (or drivers in the first season in the short term, as we still have some very inexperienced drivers on the grid). This would probably see some of the GP2 and GP3 guys getting F1 car time, as they are there as support races in a good percentage of the races.

    I think we are getting quite close to the maximum number of races in a season without requiring a crazy number of back-to-back races. I can see 24 being an upper limit that wouldn’t be exceeded, with 20-22 more likely.

    • maff said on 1st July 2010, 9:02

      Spot on, the MotoGP guys do it, stay over Sunday night after a GP and test on the Monday, reserve drivers only.

    • Flyguy said on 1st July 2010, 9:11

      Absolutely, if tests could be tacked onto the end of a race day (Monday / Tuesday) then all the kit, people and cars are already in place. This seems (to me) to be a good way of regaining testing AND keeping costs manageable.

      The hardcore fans can even make a longer weekend out of it…

      • This is by far the best solution. Pretty much everyone is at the venue so costs would be reduced and it would give the 3rd/reserve drivers the chance to learn most of the tracks should they be called upon later in their career.

        Why F1 doesn’t offer this is slightly baffling.

        • newnhamlea1 (@newnhamlea1) said on 1st July 2010, 15:42

          the problem with post race testing is that it defeats the point of testing. Parts are tested to check their worth and reliability, if it works it stays, if it doesnt work a new part is brought over for the next day. Testing needs to be done in the weeks leading up to a race, to acertain a parts worthyness for the race.

        • HounslowBusGarage said on 1st July 2010, 15:45

          But this couldn’t happen with back-to-back race weekends, could it?
          I think it’s a reasonable idea, but what would happen in a situation like Red Bull after Turkey or Valencia? One car written off. Or Sauber after Canada with both cars out of action?
          Would you suggest teams took three or evewn four cars to a race/test weekend, just in case?

          • Well rather than the day after a race, why not the Thursday of the week of the race. Let the fans who have race tickets turn up at no extra charge.

          • PJA said on 1st July 2010, 17:46

            Whether a test day was before or after a race weekend the team would rebuild the car between the test and the Grand Prix meeting because of the limited number of engines and gearboxes available during a season.

            True you may end up with a chassis being written off during a race and so not available for any Monday tests, but that doesn’t happen that often and the same argument could be used as a reason not to have tests before a race, although it would probably be less likely to happen. In pre-season testing the teams are currently allowed to run one car a day anyway at the moment.

          • Why not on fridays? Have the third drivers pound around doing a session or two, before the guys from the main game do 1st & 2nd practice. Everyone and everything is already there, and the third drivers have little to do on a GP weekend other than PR.

  5. Yeh I think that covers most ground. Testing and more racing! If you do the tests at venues that don’t get races, then that’s great for the fans. Also, using the test driver or a young driver would be a positive step.

  6. W-K said on 1st July 2010, 8:24

    As the teams already bring a complete spare car to the races. As witnessed at Monaco with Ferrari being able to build a new one for Alonso after he put his original one into the barriers.
    Why not use this ‘spare’ in FP1 and FP2, it would also get round the problem of the back-up driver not having any track time.
    It would probably need about 3 extra engines and two extra gearboxes per team for the season. And one of each set of tyres per team per race weekend.
    Garage space shouldn’t be a problem because, in days gone by, each driver used to have two cars.

  7. UneedAFinn2Win said on 1st July 2010, 8:31

    I’d like to answer, but the poll is for two different questions, not “Should in season testing return” as the headline suggests.

    Yes.
    It will make car development faster and safer, give test drivers and/or young talent a chance to get to grips with their future workplace, making their development as a driver faster and safer.
    I can see how separate test teams are financially implausible for the modern era, so add a Thursday or a Monday on selected races in the calendar, maybe every 3-4 races.

  8. Ady (@ady) said on 1st July 2010, 8:31

    Would it not be possible to turn up to some races 4 days earlier than a normal race weekend and use those as test days?

  9. I went to a test session at Silverstone, it was dead cheap for the three days and it was quite (compared to the 2008 GP)… bring back the testing!

  10. jil said on 1st July 2010, 8:38

    In-season testing should return, look to BrawnGP, they had by far the best car, created a gap in the first 7 GPs that was big enough for the world title. Not really exciting.

    And please, no more races. If there is a race every week u don’t look forward to it as much as now. I would rather have only 15 races on the really great circuits, than 20 races with all the crap like Valencia, Abu Dhabi, etc.

    • LewisC said on 1st July 2010, 11:26

      Not really exciting? The way that Red Bull came back at them and Vettel nearly pinched the title (and arguably would have done if he’d not dropped points in Turkey and elsewhere)?

      I also think that 18 races, 20 at the absolute maximum, is enough. I have Sky+ so I can record the races and qualifying and watch it when I want, but it gets to the point when I simply don’t have time to watch everything; F1 isn’t my only hobby!

      In my opinion you don’t attract more ‘casual fans’ by providing more races, you attract them by providing better races, and more ‘story’. Taking cricket as an example: most people don’t pay any attention to it most of the time. But every 3-4 years when England play the Ashes series against the Australians, it’s a big thing and takes over the back pages.

      We currently have two English guys in a British – albeit largely Arab-owned – team first and second in the world championship: beating a German no less! And yet F1 rarely captures the nation’s attention… the last time was probably when ‘Our Nige’ won the title in ’92!

    • leon said on 1st July 2010, 16:52

      Agreed. I voted for more testing but no more races, and the reason I did that is simply because the season is more than long enough now. The teams need a decent break from the high-pressure environment.

      The testing schedule needs to be a little more flexible. All the teams do not operate to the same rates of updates; they do not work to the same rhythms or timescales. What will be an easy run from the last race to the next testing session and then on to the next race for one team will be a hellish high-pressure week for another team.

      Back-to-back race weekends are already pretty heavy duty stuff for most teams.

      Needs careful planning if it’s to work well.

  11. wasiF1 said on 1st July 2010, 8:46

    I voted “I would like to see more races and more test sessions in Formula 1″ as I think the in season testing will allow the teams who have started on a back foot to catch up. But the testing should be limited to 3-5 days only & as Keith pointed out the reserved driver will be able to take part only.

  12. A certain amount of limited in-season testing would seem sensible. Even three two day tests would give the engineers to put some real-world meat on those wind-tunnel figures, and – IMO – would benefit the new teams more than the established ones, as they have less historical data, and most likely less data processing power and wind-tunnel capabilities.

    We don’t want Ferrari testing 200 days a year at Mugello again, but there is definitely a place for some testing.

    Another possibility is that if teams had 2-3 test days, they could be obliged to give a rookie driver a seat for at least one day. The grid is over-crowded with very experienced drivers who have never quite made it to the top echelons and are being paid millions… there are younger drivers out there who deserve a shot.

  13. Matt G (lotus fan) said on 1st July 2010, 9:07

    I think if they do bring testing back then it should mostly go to the teams test/reserve driver, however I would limit the amount of testing to only a few times a year, perahps change the calendar so the there are a couple of days of testing during the longer 3 or 4 week gaps. Also the test track shouldn’t be on a race track that is on the calendar.

    One thing I would also like to see is the first practice on Friday should be given to the test drivers and the other two drivers drive for the other practices.

  14. SoLiDG (@solidg) said on 1st July 2010, 9:08

    Just not too many tests like it used to be.
    Just a few after the race, like with Motogp.
    The teams are in the right place, let them use the circuit for 2 to 3 days and it won’t cost that much!

    • Macca (@macca) said on 1st July 2010, 9:13

      I agree, this is what I was going to post as well.

    • Oli said on 1st July 2010, 9:29

      Make it for only the European races though as the teams want to get back to base and respray the cars which takes 3 days

      • Macca (@macca) said on 1st July 2010, 16:39

        I would have it the other way around. European fans can see multiple races during the year because counrties are so close but overseas fans like Australia and Canada and others only get it once a year, I think they deserve to be able to see some more action.

  15. GeeMac said on 1st July 2010, 9:11

    I agree wholeheartedly with your proposal that testing should be carried out by drivers not currently involved in and at circuits not currently used for the World Championship. It allows F1 to further diversify its audience and allows the test/reserve drivers to stay sharp.

    in addition to this, the additional track time would allow smaller teams would be able to try out new parts and solve mechanical gremlins (like the hydraulic problems that hurt Lotus), and the faster teams would be able to optimise their packages. I see no problem in allowing a limited amount of testing.

    • djdaveyp said on 1st July 2010, 9:31

      Aren’t the hydraulic problems that all the new teams are having something to do with the fact that the Xtrac gearbox (Customer gearbox) they use isn’t very reliable in this department?

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 1st July 2010, 10:08

        I think it is, from what Willis said the other day, it is pretty clear this is those guys main weakness (X-track was brougt in by Mosley along with the cosworth deal).

        HRT is not going to build its own gearbox, so will hope Xtrack improves, or they choose another supplier (another team?). Virgin might build their own (they did the casing already) and Lotus will to the same i expect, or get one with another engine deal.

        • GeeMac said on 1st July 2010, 10:50

          That’s quite right. I didn’t go into detail ad nauseam because it’s not really necessary for my point. But these are precisely the sorts of gremlins that you sort out during testing.

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