Should F1 teams test before racing?

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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?

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

Total Voters: 138

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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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
    10th July 2008, 7:34

    This a black and white issue.

    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
    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. I will say it with an extra long speech


    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. 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
    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. 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
    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
    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. 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. 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
    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
    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. 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.

  16. I like the idea of less testing, more racing.

    But I don’t like the idea of punishing people for doing well – it’s only a short step from that to the kind of success ballasting nonsense they have in touring cars, and that would be disastrous for F1.

    Besides which, I’m sure the teams would find a way around a restriction like that.

  17. Keith, you’re right but I think you’re missing one point. Those leading teams are in front of the pack because of BUDGET. That explains everything.

    And I’m not sure Ferrari, McLaren or whatever team would find a way around lack of testing…. We have few examples of bad performance because what the wind tunnel predicts didn’t reflect on a real test.

  18. The only point of testing is to physically stress test new parts and I’m assuming test the tyres that Bridgestone bring along.

    If testing at circuits is reduced, you’ll probably see the money spent in other areas like simulated testing.
    Honda use Wirth extensively to develop there Acura LMP2 car for the ALMS series.

    I can’t see why this testing between GPs is required. Tols suggesting of testing after a GP makes the most sense, if teams feel they really need some test time.

  19. although is was not the same as testing on the same track as the next race, the situation is similar ahead of Monaco / Montreal races. Teams go to Paul Ricard test on track configurations simulating Monaco and Montreal circuits … but that is a bit off topic

    I do not mind if they test on the same track as the next race but under one condition – no stand alone test days but add more races and make race weekend Friday the test day. There are 5-6 tests during the season or something like that, so cancel that and make the teams do 25 race weekends, that would give every team 25 test days per season. Allow the teams to use test drivers freely (give them chance to showcase themselves), give the spectators at the tracks more for their money. Instead of the test in Silverstone there could have been race weekend at Nurburgring, instead of the test this week we could have had race weekend at Imola, instead of Paul Ricard testing F1 could go to USA for GP for example …

  20. I think for tracks that are atypical of the usual ones on the calendar (e.g. Monza), testing before the races is a necessity, if only from a safety point of view.

  21. I’m against testing during the F1 racing season and even more so at tracks where they will race on the following week. I think testing should be limited to the closed season , that would give the cars who can do the better job then an advantage. I’ve seen it with Williams for 3 years running now , they do well in winter testing , start the year off fairly well , and what appears as a gradual fade out as the season progresses. In fact , they are improving , but at a slower rate than the better funded teams. I’m not suggesting Ferrari or McLaren should not beat Williams , because they do the better job , and also they have more funding as a result of their success , but what I’m thinking is that limited testing would bring the mid-field closer . We already have a close mid-field , to have that pack closer to the front , would be great.

  22. Why don’t they just follow the MotoGP example and test after the race has taken place? I would have thought that was cheaper?

    I also like the idea of Friday afternoon being a ‘test day’ give the team 5-6 hours of track time and let them put whoever they want in the car – they could even use the time to test new drivers or even better make it that their nominated 3rd driver is the only driver allowed to test for the first 2 hours.

  23. I have never been a fan of testing, so my answer is no.
    Racing is what it is all about, period. The teams get five months off in the winter to prepare, all the time they need. If they are not ready after that, then they’ll never be ready.
    I am all for alterations, but they should be made back at the factory and readied somewhere else, and certainly not at the next Grands Prix venue.
    I tighter race schedule, with more back to back races, would be far more interesting than testing.
    The Barcelona example is a justified one. Apart from 1996, I don’t think I have ever seen a good Grands Prix held there.

  24. I do like this discussion alot and I have to agree with Keith (this time only!!!) but I want to add that testing on F1 circuits that are currently used should be prohibited.Test on silverstone when the race is in Donington,test on the Nurburgring when the race is in Hockenheim…etc.

  25. I did not comment on this when it was originally posted, but it is quite interesting after linking here from the NASCAR at Indy article from the end of July.

    To me, I don’t think teams should test at the same venues they will later race at. For one, this gives some circuits a different situation than others, in that teams can easily drive to Silverstone or Barcelona, but the flyaway venues cannot accomodate this- are fans that turn out for races getting a better or worse product than at circuits where testing is done the week before?

    In my view, with all the resources that go into the development of an F1 car, the teams should be able to arrive at a GP with a resonable idea of what to expect. Therefore, my ideal solution is Twister27’s idea of a Friday test session, which would allow the teams to make small but important upgrades on-site. I imagine it would be a big hit with the fans also.

    My only hang-up is the question of who profits from seling tickets to a test at a place like Silverstone? If Bernie and his people get the money, you can bet thell test on all the off weekends from here on out.

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