Fewer races and more testing? No thanks, Alonso

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Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Jerez, 2012Fernando Alonso may not consider himself “political”, but that doesn’t stop him from toeing the Ferrari party line.

At the team’s annual pre-season media event he duly restated their well-worn complaints about the reductions in testing in recent seasons: “Maybe it would be better to have one or two fewer races and a few more test sessions.”

Restrictions on testing were introduced to spare teams the enormous costs they were inflicting on themselves for little benefit. And they worked: The amount of testing done by F1 teams last year was less than 30% of what it was ten years ago.

As recent developments have shown, effective cost-cutting measures such as these are essential. Particularly as efforts to save money in other areas, such as designing and building the cars, is fraught with disagreement over whether to do so through budget caps, customer cars or tight restrictions on development.

While efforts to bring down the sky-high cost of competing in F1 stall, the grid has shrunk over the winter and there is no sign of anyone arriving to fill the gaps.

In fairness to Alonso, he is speaking from the point of view of a driver who has just completed one gruelling season and is about to embark on another: “Last year we had the last Grand Prix at the end of November and almost right up to Christmas there were events I had to take part in.

“There?s almost only the end of year holiday when one can have a break and I?ll try to fit in a few more days between now and Melbourne to recharge my batteries.”

Taken in isolation, that’s not an unreasonable point. But it contradicts his desire to see more testing, which often involves harder work for a driver than racing. Last year Davide Rigon completed over two Grand Prix distances in a single day while testing for Ferrari at Magny-Cours.

Running Formula One cars is not a cheap business. Teams can only afford to attend a certain number of events per year. The viewing public is far more interested in races than test sessions, so it make financial sense for F1 to spend as much time racing as possible.

Of course some amount of testing needs to be done. If the current amount was insufficient the consequences would be seen in cars breaking down a lot more often.

In fact they’re more reliable than they’ve ever been. Last year 83.5% of all the starts made by F1 cars resulted in a finish, the highest for at least two decades and likely a lot longer.

That may change in the future as the teams have to get to grips with a new engine formula next year. But as things stand the limits on testing are clearly working for Formula One.

It might not suit Ferrari, who have on their doorstep a testing track their F1 outfit hardly ever uses. Stefano Domenicali’s announcement that he signed Pedro de la Rosa to “work in the simulator, which with the current regulations regarding testing, is becoming ever more important” is a sign Ferrari are coming to terms with the new reality.

Hopefully once they start to make up the ground lost to McLaren and Red Bull on their simulator programme Ferrari’s whinges about testing will eventually stop.

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84 comments on Fewer races and more testing? No thanks, Alonso

  1. Well, he’s hardly going to publicly oppose them, is he?

  2. PG_Williams said on 18th January 2013, 11:50

    I personally have little issue with the testing ban, I think its been good in terms of cutting costs but I also think its been good for the on-track competition.

    Everyone talks about how great it is that the gaps between teams is so close now & I think thats a direct result of the testing ban as richer teams can no longer test endlessly to perfect updates & setups with the smaller teams unable to match them due to been unable to afford it & thus falling behind.

    Yes it has caused some problems with young/3rd drivers, However they could easily bring back the 3rd cars on Friday’s to give them seat time, Worked well from 2003-2006 & allowed drivers like Vettel & Kubica to come through.
    The only downside would be that the actual race drivers may not do much running on Fridays which is what often happened before.

    • Veteran said on 18th January 2013, 12:16

      You do realizes your point is completely void?

      The reason the teams are so close is that the FIA bans every new piece of technology the top teams come up with. (Off throtle blowing, DoubleDeckDiffuser, Flexi Wings,etc.) All these things are prohibited now because noone of the mid and lower teams cannot make them work. Now that these top technologies are gone. Teams are more close then ever.

      • Bob (@bobthevulcan) said on 18th January 2013, 13:37

        Actually, both of you raise good points, though I do lean toward PG_Williams’ view on testing. In the days of virtually limitless testing, top teams with massive resources, such as Ferrari, were able to hone their cars to near perfection with intensive testing regimens, offering the comparatively cash-strapped midfield teams almost no opportunity to shine. Limiting testing, so that all teams have the same restricted time frame in which to fine-tune their cars, naturally evens out the field.

        While I do agree that restrictions on new technology have also put the teams on more even footing, bear in mind that testing is necessary to get those innovative features working in the first place. For instance, without running umpteen laps around Fiorano and zeroing-in their performance, Ferrari’s technological innovations like periscope exhausts and direct-shift gearboxes would not have propelled their cars to such success in the early 2000s. Without collecting sufficient practical data from test runs, RBR would not have perfected exhaust blowing to the extent that they did in 2011.

        Hence, I still believe that limitations on testing is the primary root cause of, and best form of action by the FIA to ensure, closeness in pace between teams.

        • crr917 (@crr917) said on 18th January 2013, 14:13

          Without testing teams have a hard time catching up. Without bans the gaps would be big.

          • Bob (@bobthevulcan) said on 18th January 2013, 14:52

            @crr917 – With testing, the midfield teams have little chance of catching up to the top tier teams who can afford it, creating a running order out of the Schumacher era. With bans, big gaps are less likely to exist.

          • crr917 (@crr917) said on 18th January 2013, 15:12

            @bobthevulcan I meant the bans keeps the gaps small, not the amount of testing. Even if we had unlimited testing FIA would just have to ban stuff more frequently and teams would stay close.

          • Bob (@bobthevulcan) said on 18th January 2013, 15:22

            @crr917 – I agree regarding the bans, but I also believe that the amount of testing is a considerable factor in limiting gaps. Limiting the amount of in-season testing would, in all likelihood, prevent any one team from achieving dominance through sheer expenditure, as has been done in the past.

      • PG_Williams said on 18th January 2013, 17:45

        The reason the teams are so close is that the FIA bans every new piece of technology the top teams come up with.

        Yes, However with in season testing the big teams would perfect these things sooner as they could test them while the mid-field could not so it would result in bigger gaps.

        Take the double diffusers, With no in season testing those who didn’t start with the concept had to develop them on the fly so we had pretty much a full season of teams trying to figure them out which kept the field close.
        Had we had testing, The big teams who would afford to test would have spent days testing, figured out the best DDD solutions & been miles ahead of everyone else again.

        Also the FIA banned things regularly before the testing ban & the gaps between teams was still big, It wasn’t untill the test ban came in for 2009 that the gaps between the teams closed up & its stayed close since.

      • Joeoftheblog said on 18th January 2013, 21:34

        So restrict total spend, remove all/a lot of the regs – smartest team wins

  3. Garns (@) said on 18th January 2013, 11:51

    “It might not suit Ferrari, who have on their doorstep a testing track their F1 outfit hardly ever uses”

    I have never understood the actual restrictions of the F1 testing- if Keith or anyone else can answer the following it would be great:
    We know there are 2 test sessions this year (I think 3 last year- 2 pre and one mid-season??)
    So does that mean the teams cant drive the car at any other stage AT ALL? And what about last years car? The above comment states Ferrari hardly uses their test track- are they allowed to run a few laps of a new car to test aero, for example, or is the first time the tyres turn at the 1st testing?

    How much driving (in F1) does a driver do from Brazil to Austalia? We see Lewis take Senna’s 1988 McLaren for a run. Does he need special FIA permission for this? If not cant he take the 2012 McLaren for a run as often as he likes to keeps the skills up during the off season (Pun intended- I dont think Ron will let him anymore!!)

    What about a 3rd test driver? These guys usually are being set up for a drive in F1- some like Bottas last year were lucky to get many runs in FP1, but most dont. Unless they drive other classes surely they loose some skill over that time- Being in Australia with limited racing bar F1, Moto GP and V8 Supercars I really dont know if the 3rd drivers get to still have a run in F3 or whatever??

    Garns

    • andae23 (@andae23) said on 18th January 2013, 12:06

      Let’s run them through by paragraph

      There are three test session this year, all in February. They decided to cut the mid-season test (last year at Mugello between the.. 6th and 7th GP?) due to cost reduction. The team has a restricted number of straight-line test that they can perform each year (for instance the one in which De Villota lost her eye), which is used to correlate wind tunnel testing with ‘track’ data. So indeed, the first time the wheels turn are at the first test.

      Apart from doing some sponsor things – drive an old F1 car in current livery through the streets of some random place and do doughnuts – most drivers do absolutely zero driving in the winter break, except for simulator runs.

      Basically there are two types of third drivers. First you have the ‘experienced’ drivers that do a lot of laps on the simulator. The second species is the young and talented third driver that usually also competes in series like GP2 or the WSR 3.5. Bottas is a bit of an exception to the rule: instead of driving in GP2, he was allowed to take over from Bruno Senna at a good 90% of first practices last year. How rusty this has made him is anyone’s guess!

      • @andae23

        They decided to cut the mid-season test (last year at Mugello between the.. 6th and 7th GP?)

        4th & 5th, Ferrari brought updates from the Mugello test to Spain which was the 5th GP.

        As for the point of Lewis taking Senna’s 1988 McLaren for a run, the teams are allowed to do demonstration runs in cars older than 3 years I believe as they please.

        • hobo (@hobo) said on 18th January 2013, 14:37

          I don’t think it’s just demo runs. Unless they’ve tightened the rules, which they may have, cars older than 2 or 3 years can be run as much as the teams please. Example: when MSC was going to take over for Massa they asked for permission for him to practice in the then-current car, no luck. He then went and practiced in an older car.

          With as much as regs have changed a 2 or 3 year old car would not be that helpful at this point. DD, f-duct, EBD, downforce differences, wing differences, etc.

          If this is all wrong and the teams are restricted from even this, someone will correct me.

          • BasCB (@bascb) said on 19th January 2013, 13:25

            They can indeed run older cars without much limit. In fact a lot of cars are ran that way either by companies forming part of the racing teams, or independents to offer people who feel up to it a chance to drive it for money.

  4. Ben (@scuderia29) said on 18th January 2013, 12:05

    “Hopefully once they start to make up the ground lost to McLaren and Red Bull on their simulator programme Ferrari’s whinges about testing will eventually stop.”

    im surprised that people would rather teams do their testing on a computer simulation that actually out on a race track

    • montreal95 (@montreal95) said on 18th January 2013, 12:16

      @scuderia29 Not the same. Simulator testing is indefinitely cheaper. The only losers are avid F1 fans who live close to popular testing racetracks. But F1 as a whole including the vast majority of fans can only win from this

      • Ben (@scuderia29) said on 18th January 2013, 12:23

        sure its cheaper but i dont think it makes the sport better at all, so often teams bring updates to the car that dont work or dont have the same effect they had in the simulator, this if F1…the pinnacle of motorsport and to improve the car through the year they have to rely on a computer simulation, maybe its just me but i dont see it as a good thing

        • Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 18th January 2013, 12:49

          @scuderia29 Well, a wind tunnel is a sort of computer simulation. You cannot design a car on the track, you need a wind tunnel. And look how difficult it is when the results the wind tunnel gives don’t correlate with reality.

          I think it’s unavoidable. Computer simulation is a very very powerful source.

          • Ben (@scuderia29) said on 18th January 2013, 14:39

            but what testing does is give the teams a chance to test the new parts designed in the wind tunnel and refine them if necessary, instead they have to test them during friday practice, often removing the parts as the computer simulation suggested the parts would have a great effect and in reality they dont, taking your new untested parts with you across the world to the race venue only to find they dont work must be highly frustrating for any team

          • Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 18th January 2013, 15:54

            @scuderia29 well, I suppose the cost of carrying around a front wing round the globe is a lot lower than getting 30 people up a racetrack and test the whole day.

            I understand what you’re saying about testing: Messi gets to train, why shouldn’t F1 teams? but as costs goes, having many testing events during the year is not really necessary. And it makes friday practice all the more important.

        • GT_Racer said on 18th January 2013, 19:11

          so often teams bring updates to the car that dont work or dont have the same effect they had in the simulator

          And the same would be true even if they were allowed to test.

          A big portion of things teams used to test when we had testing turned out not to be things that didn’t work, Difference been they had wasted a few hundred thousand euro’s (Sometimes even well over a million) in sending the team/driver/car/engines/tyres/spares etc… out to a track which in most cases they had also had to rent for the day.

          I’ve seen teams spend millions in a multi-day test only to end up using none of the parts they tested as none of them worked as expected.

          The most extreme example you could use is maybe the 2003 Mclaren MP4-18, They spend millions testing it all year, Never got it to work & so never raced it. Not to mention the fact that it suffered several big accidents due to mechanical failures which was risking the drivers safety considering that it never passed the FIA side impact test’s.

          • GT_Racer said on 18th January 2013, 19:12

            turned out not to be things that didn’t work,

            Should read ‘turned out to be things that didn’t work’!

          • BasCB (@bascb) said on 19th January 2013, 13:29

            Exactly that @GT_Racer, teams that could afford it had an idea, or saw something from someone else, built it, put it on the car, make mileage on it to see if it actually was any good. When testing was limited, most of these were probably put through simulation and wind tunnel hours.

            Now that its not possible to do so any more, every team first has to be clever enough to choose what parts to actually built, simulate or even test (on the fridays), so its less about money and a bit more about the right ideas and choices made.

      • verstappen (@verstappen) said on 18th January 2013, 12:29

        Is that so?
        I really wonder, but I guess it’s about whether you account both CFD and simulator costs. I think CFD partly has seen rapid development in F1 because of the testing ban.
        And maybe Alonso envisions a shorter season with in season testing – which indeed would create a longer holiday season for drivers. Then again, it’s Alonso…

      • what about all of the up-and-coming drivers who aren’t up-and-coming into F1 b/c there’s absolutely no opportunity for them to actually drive an F1 car unless they already are established enough to buy into a seat?

  5. Tifoso1989 (@tifoso1989) said on 18th January 2013, 12:26

    This talk of cost cutting by reducing the number of tests is absolutely ridiculous ,i mean what is the difference between spending the money on tyres ,pistons, fuel….or on electronics, computers, simulators …
    Ferrari are always looking for testing because this is their approach of building an F1 car look at the benefit the team has after the Mugello test last year , the other teams like Red Bull and McLaren are always against testing because they are able to develop their cars without them ,look at Red Bull the team that is suspected to have overspend last year (& i’m not saying that their success was because of this) they are also against testing
    Ferrari now has no choice , they have to change their approach and that is why they are rebuilding their wind tunnel and they reinforced their aero departments with many senior engineers they are also building a new headquarters and all this of course needs a huge budget and none of the other teams will complain that Ferrari has maybe has overspend because they are doing the same thing

  6. sumedh said on 18th January 2013, 13:34

    Why can’t we have a repeat of 2007, 2008?

    If I recall correctly, there were a number of races where teams arrived on the track on Tuesday and tested on Wednesday and Thursday and went racing Friday onwards.

    This way, the travel costs are the same. You only need extra hotel costs. And fans at the venue get to see more F1.

    This way, Ferrari gets its in season testing, costs are not increased much and Alonso can also get a little more rest as three pre season tests won’t be necessary.

    • Dizzy said on 18th January 2013, 17:21

      If I recall correctly, there were a number of races where teams arrived on the track on Tuesday and tested on Wednesday and Thursday and went racing Friday onwards.

      There has never been any running in the week prior to a race weekend.

      Wednesday/Thursday have always been the days where teams setup there garages, Where ad-boards, TV cameras & timing systems are setup round the track & when teams/drivers do there track walks & media activities.

  7. Paulocreed (@paulocreed) said on 18th January 2013, 13:46

    What if instead of having more testing days, cancel the testing days and add another practice/test day session to the weekend at each or some of the races on the calender?. Since the teams are at that venue anyway for a race, would it not be more efficient to have an extra day at that track for testing rather than an entirely different day/weekend at an entirely different venue which adds to freight costs and so on. And then there’s the option of having fans attend to generate revenue instead of no fans at testing venue’s. I’m sure I’m not the first person to think of this, but what do the F1 Fanatics think?

  8. HoHum (@hohum) said on 18th January 2013, 14:06

    Is it really cheaper to build a wind tunnel and employ a hundred people to work with it, building 60% models of every update & widget, then computing the results to simulate the effect at 100%, before building the 100% piece and flying it halfway around the world to be tested on the car during race preparation , is that really cheaper than keeping a test “mule” and running it round the local race track for a few laps to evaluate parts that can go straight on to the race car if found to be beneficial?

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 18th January 2013, 15:34

      @hohum But the teams weren’t “keeping a test mule and running it round the local race track for a few laps”, they had entire separate ‘testing teams’, some of which were covering three times as much distance per year as the race team.

      Nor would all the teams switch off their wind tunnels and fire 100 staff if they were allowed to have “test mules”. They would do both, so there would be no saving at all.

      • HoHum (@hohum) said on 18th January 2013, 16:23

        @keithcollantine, you are right but that is not the question I asked, following your logic we should ban wind tunnels as well because some teams can’t afford them.
        I understand that the budget necessary to win is problematic, F1 is a development series and there will always be inequities but knee-jerk bans on such basics as testing seem to me to end up costing teams more and widening the competitive chasm rather than leveling the playing field.

        • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 18th January 2013, 16:43

          @hohum I didn’t answer your question because I felt it was based on a flawed assumption, as I pointed out.

          knee-jerk bans on such basics as testing

          The ban on testing was not “knee-jerk”. Several teams repeatedly lobbied for it in the early/mid-2000s over the strenuous objections of Ferrari who persistently tried to block it. We even had a situation where some teams voluntarily agreed to limit their testing under a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ because without Ferrari’s agreement a rule requiring it couldn’t be passed.

          seem to me to end up costing teams more

          As I said in my previous comment that is clearly not true.

          Even Ferrari, who clearly hate the testing ban, are not trying to pretend it hasn’t saved them money, so I don’t understand how anyone can think that is the case.

          and widening the competitive chasm

          Not at all – we’ve just had one of the closest seasons ever, thanks in part to the testing ban. The richest teams have not been able to spend their way into a dominant position by doing more testing than the rest can afford.

    • @hohum – no, absolutely not. I am all in favour of cost-cutting measures but that is only to provide equal opportunities for all the teams, not to make the cars identical (which is what I believe Keith was meaning). I agree that more testing could be used but it would have to be at the expense of something else, which definitely shouldn’t be the races as Alonso is suggesting.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 19th January 2013, 13:33

      I get your question @hohum, but in my opinion, nowadays it takes cleverer thinking to decide what parts are actually built (because of the limited scope to actually test them). Before that the richer teams could enable to simulate, windtunnel and track test just about every idea they had or saw on other cars without much limit apart from what they were willing to spend

      • HoHum (@hohum) said on 19th January 2013, 15:41

        @bascb,@vettel1,@keithcollantine, How about a rule that allows for 1 test mule to be run at a non F1 accredited track , 26 x 10 hr. days per season ie an average of once a week for 6 months but flexible enough to allow more use for early development or major revisions.

        This would save smaller teams from the capitol investment needed for a wind tunnel and scaled down modeling, even if it didn’t propel them to the podium.

        • @hohum – I’ll add something to that in that the teams have the option of doing only simulator work or what you have proposed, so teams such as Red Bull & McLaren can make use of their simulators whereas Ferrari can make use of their track. Everyone wins!

        • BasCB (@bascb) said on 20th January 2013, 19:14

          Hm, but if a team want’s to go out testing the cost will still be quite high, won’t it? It’ll be the car itself with parts off course, then the people running it (who would have to be different people from the race team in most cases), the medical team that has to be present, the rescue helicopter at standby etc. Off course some teams would make it a day of earning from paying “test” drivers because that would be their best use of the time, but it would be quite a burden on the cost for most.

          And when we look back at testing last year, most of the teams did not even take place in all testing days, so its not as if testing is that badly needed for them that they need an extra 4 weeks of it.

  9. Girts (@girts) said on 18th January 2013, 15:13

    I always love the editor’s comments! More of them, please!

    I think that all this talk is only about Ferrari’s dissatisfaction with the fact that they’re not competitive enough today and how F1 should change to let them return to the glory days. There are contradictions in their statements everywhere.

    Alonso says that he’s tired because of a long & busy calendar but, as Keith points out, testing is tiresome as well.

    Luca di Montezemolo complains about how the young drivers are at a disadvantage because of the limited testing (which I agree with) but Ferrari never sign rookies themselves, they didn’t do that during the years of unlimited testing either and now even Perez is too inexperienced for them, according to LdM.

    They also say that they want to make F1 more road relevant but at the same time don’t support cost cutting. As long as the expenses remain as high as they are now or increase, F1 will never bee ‘road car friendly’ simply because it will be too expensive.

    So it’s hard to see how Ferrari’s longing for more testing and other changes is anything more than defending and promoting their own interests.

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 18th January 2013, 16:31

      @girts, you are denying history, so much of the technology we enjoy on cars now was developed in racing and F1 has been a leading developer from its inception until the development freeze,
      traction/stability control is the most obvious example.

  10. infy (@infy) said on 18th January 2013, 15:19

    He’s not wrong. F1 needs more testing.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 18th January 2013, 15:34

      @infy Why?

      • infy (@infy) said on 18th January 2013, 17:15

        @keithcollantine
        1) So young drivers can be trained and tested throughout the season.
        2) So that signed drivers can train outside of the simulator.
        3) To promote innovation by limiting the risk associated with it.
        4) Give teams with reliability or performance problems the chance to figure out, test and fix said problems early in the season.

        I could probably go on listing things forever.

        Some might say costs are a problem, but I dont believe testing alone is going to shoot costs through the roof. If they plan their tests and share the costs between the participating teams, it will far less expensive.

        If a team cant afford to test, then they just skip the test and use the time to find more sponsors, until they can eventually afford to test.

        • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 18th January 2013, 18:04

          @infy

          Some might say costs are a problem, but I dont believe testing alone is going to shoot costs through the roof.

          If that were true there would be no restrictions on testing at the moment. As things stand they’ve cut testing back by three days compared to last year.

          It’s easy to say ‘testing’s not that expensive they should allow more of it’. But there are plenty of other things F1 teams could be spending their money on. They live in the real world and they can’t afford all the things they want.

          None of the reasons you’ve given for increasing testing (though I might be persuaded on the young driver one) would enhance the sport sufficiently to outweigh the drawback of increased costs. Such as reliability, for the reason given in the article.

  11. LoreMipsumdOtmElor said on 18th January 2013, 15:20

    Why not save even more money and let the actual races take place in simulators? I’m with Alonso on this one: I’d gladly have 2 fewer races if in-season testing would be allowed again. And while we’re at it: Don’t freeze engine developement anymore. 83.5 % finishes is too damn high. We need more engine failures.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 18th January 2013, 15:43

      Saying “don’t freeze engine development anymore” is all well and good but who’s going to pay for it?

      Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault will have to pass the costs on to their teams, most of which can’t afford it. And that’s not just fragile new(ish) teams like Caterham and Marussia (or dead ones like HRT) – one of the most vocal teams on the subject of engine costs is Sauber.

      I’d like to see greater technical development in F1 too. But it can’t happen until the teams can afford it. That’s why cost-saving measures like the testing ban are vital.

      • HoHum (@hohum) said on 18th January 2013, 16:41

        What if someone like “Pure” was able to build a 1600cc, turbocharged 4cylinder 2 stroke engine that was powerful, efficient, reliable and cost half what V6 4 stroke will cost ?

        Impossible you say, maybe- maybe not, we will never know because the FIA dictate all parameters of the engine, supposedly to reduce cost.

        • Mads (@mads) said on 18th January 2013, 17:02

          @hohum
          But so what if PURE can make that engine? Will that actually reduce costs?
          The problem is that all the while PURE and its costumer teams are saving money, Ferrari, Renault, Mercedes and Cosworth (who probably wouldn’t afford it) would then have to ditch their V6 engine, start from scratch and develop a whole new unit to compete with PURE’s engine.
          That way while 3 teams and an engine supplier are saving a few quid, three engine suppliers would then have to spend millions and millions to develop their engines all over again. Cosworth would likely have to throw in the towel and say goodbye so then that would be it.
          While I see where you are coming from, and actually, I would also prefer a little more freedom in the engine regs. it is just not possible when the economy is so tight because the costs of making a fundamental error, or someone else just having a great idea would make the development costs double just like that. And the less fortunate engine suppliers wouldn’t be able to afford that.

          • HoHum (@hohum) said on 18th January 2013, 17:37

            @mads, I see your point but without the imperative to build a 90degree 4V, 1600 cc V6 with 80mm bore, maybe the other engine suppliers would also have come up with something different that may or may not have been better or cheaper.
            Cosworth might leave F1! ok they would join the likes of Maserati, alfa romeo, vanwall, cooper, brm, march, brabham, toyota. honda. porsche, jaguar. matra. etc.etc. F1 is a tough and dynamic competition, always has been, but in the past a small garage with a good idea and access to a test track could take on the biggest and the best and succeed, not any more.

          • Mads (@mads) said on 18th January 2013, 19:08

            @hohum
            Yes others might succeed as well, but it only takes one engine manufacture with a concept that is 5% better then the others for everyone to need to redo their engine to a varying degree.
            That will never bring down costs. It might do if they all come up with the same concept, but as of right now, they are simply forced to do that all ready. That means that no team will have to risk developing their 2014 engine twice.
            Loosing Cosworth might not be the end of the world for F1, but the idea is to reduce costs. You cannot try to save money by risking ruining the future of the last ‘privateer’ engine manufacture in F1. And not only that, but it would also risk driving the costs for all the others through the roof. That will hit the teams because the engines will have to be more expensive, so we might loose Sauber and Williams in the process.
            The idea is to cut costs. That involves saving real money.
            Not risking everything for the slim chance of saving a million a year for one or two teams.
            Its like gambling your house on Rosberg winning the championship in 2014 for the return of that house and 200 quid in case you win.
            It might work out, but taking that gamble just doesn’t make sense when you compare the risks and the gains.

          • HoHum (@hohum) said on 18th January 2013, 21:02

            @mads, I do see your point and agree that it would be risky, b u t, I know F1 managed for about 50 years with exactly the formula we are talking about, and I do remember when almost every team used the Cosworth DFV until someone decided a turbocharged 1.5 might be better.
            In my above scenario I imagine everyone except MB and SF using the cheaper engine. MB and SF can afford to use and develop their own engines.

          • Mads (@mads) said on 19th January 2013, 17:12

            @hohum

            In my above scenario I imagine everyone except MB and SF using the cheaper engine. MB and SF can afford to use and develop their own engines.

            But that will require that the other engine has NO other advantages then its smaller price tag. And really, hitting two different engine formulas with exactly the same properties, or at least a similar overall performance (one might be more powerful, but heavier etc.) but if one of the engine designs gave just a tenth of a second over the other, then they would all at some point have to develop their own version of that engine to gain that tenth.
            And if the more expensive is the faster engine, then all the money spend developing the cheaper engine would be wasted.
            I see that it could work, but I think that the risk of it being 10 times more expensive in the end is noticeably higher.
            And really the possible savings in the engine manufacturing process isn’t that high when compared to development costs.

        • xjr15jaaag (@xjr15jaaag) said on 19th January 2013, 20:12

          2-stroke is something like 4 times or so the price of petrol.

    • As a fan of the sport, how can you possibly want to see less races?

      Unless of course they televised the tests.. Otherwise i couldnt care less. More testing wont produce better races.

      • Journeyer (@journeyer) said on 18th January 2013, 16:00

        Too many races = diluted value. How much more entertainment value does 20 races give compared to, say, 17 or 18? I’d gladly drop a few races to get us down to a more manageable calendar.

        That said, I don’t necessarily agree with more testing. I see why Alonso wants it (you would if you were Ferrari – you have a testing track in your backyard). But the one upside of testing for me (allowing teams with slower cars to catch up in development to the faster ones) was neutralized in 2012, when Red Bull pulled it off over McLaren anyway – without testing.

    • Personally I think more races are better as it makes for less boring weekends! As long as we don’t go crazy meaning that the teams have to have two separate crews then I am in favour of perhaps even more races, although I do feel that 20 is a good round number and we should stick with it.

  12. Bjornar Simonsen said on 18th January 2013, 15:21

    “But it contradicts his desire to see more testing, which often involves harder work for a driver than racing.”

    No it doesn’t. Ever heard of test drivers? Young drivers?

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 18th January 2013, 15:35

      Of course – but Alonso didn’t say anything about them.

      • craig-o (@craig-o) said on 18th January 2013, 15:53

        It also needs to be noted regular race drivers are more reliable than young test drivers. If you’re running just one car with a test driver driving a car with new parts, but is slower than a regular race driver with the old spec car in (let’s assume here) identical conditions, how can you tell whether it’s the new parts or the driver? Teams will want to run their regular drivers on track when testing most parts (Williams being an exception), especially if their driver is able to deliver consistent lap times, as oppose to some 19-year-old who could go from being 4s off the pace to 2s off and then 6s off.

        My view on this is pretty simple, I see nothing wrong with testing as it is. In this modern age these simulators are gradually becoming more reliable, and able to deal with more and more situations.

        • HoHum (@hohum) said on 18th January 2013, 16:47

          The modern F1 cars has so many sensors sending information back to the engineers that virtually any competent driver of the right stature can get the results that matter on the test track, actual lap times are not important.

        • BasCB (@bascb) said on 19th January 2013, 13:40

          I guess that is why part of the testing time is pend first establishing a base line with the unchanged car and the test driver. Then they start putting new bits on to compare them @craig-o.
          That said, your point about the racing drivers actually being better in the car is very valid. Only if we have guys like Pedro or Alex wurz (or some of the Ferrari guys) who spend their best years as full time test pilots will their feedback be of equal or higher value than that of the actual race drivers, IMO

  13. Andy (@turbof1) said on 18th January 2013, 15:55

    IMO, more testing is possible, but it needs to be done more logical and efficient. In the past, and on one occasion last year, we had teams running tests on circuits which didn’t even came close geographically to the next circuit where the next race is being held. Like last year: Mercedes, Ferrari and Force India moved to magny cours for their tests, coming from Italy while the next race was in Singapore. Logistics are usually being paid by the FOM for transport between races, but not for such tests. The test at Abu Dhabi shows hows it must be done: after race weekend teams stay there for their test, and after the test they go to the next grand prix. No extra costs for transport and no extra costs for setting up and such, and you save up alot of time. Infact, if Pirelli would be allowed to keep unused tyres (which actually by rule have to be destroyed after the race weekend) to be used for those test days, another major cost can be heavily cut. All in all, testing in F1 is highly cost-inefficient. If the teams were able to cooperate better and plan on which races they also want to hold tests, they could test much more while costs are kept relative low.

  14. Shimks (@shimks) said on 18th January 2013, 15:59

    Quoted from the above article:

    Of course some amount of testing needs to be done. If the current amount was insufficient the consequences would be seen in cars breaking down a lot more often.

    It may be an extreme suggestion but, in consideration of the testing-costly-versus-racing-profitable argument, surely testing could be reduced even further? We only really need enough testing to ensure the safety of drivers and spectators. All other testing could occur during races. The teams wouldn’t like it but it would save money and it would certainly throw up some interesting results.

  15. Ben (@benchuiii) said on 18th January 2013, 16:03

    How about no testing at all and go straight to the first race? That would be a real test of team and driver to get up to grips with the new car, and save a lot of money at the same time.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 19th January 2013, 13:42

      I do think it makes sense to have at least a couple of days (3?) before everything is shipped over the whole world to work out critical things, like the issue the Enstone team found after the first couple of days of testing last year.
      As we are essentially speaking about prototypes, to go racing straight off is a bit too much.

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