Willis wants testing return

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HRT technical director Geoff Willis would like to see the return of in-season testing – albeit on a limited basis.

Willis said:

From a purely engineering point of view, if we don?t have testing we have to compensate with rig testing and analysis. The money you don?t spend on testing you spend on that.

The mistake, for me, is that 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.

The downside is that to do that, unless the calendar was particularly sympathetic, 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. It?s something for FOTA to talk about but from an engineering point of view it would be nice to have some testing during the season.
Geoff Willis

With limited resources and no in-season testing HRT are, like Virgin, relying on Computational Fluid Dynamics for their development work:

In the short term we will be using hired wind tunnel time and will be doing a balanced programme of wind tunnel and CFD. For in-season development right now, with the time pressures it?s almost certainly going to be a 100% CFD programme, which has its slight risks, but I think from where we are, is sensible.
Geoff Willis

The team have suffered a series of gearbox-related problems on the F110 but Willis says they will have to continue using a customer gearbox as they are not ready to build their own:

Most of our problems have been related to transmission hydraulics, which is a complicated part of the car. It is the first time that Xtrac has been involved as a supplier of the whole system. It?s tough considering that we don?t have testing and we therefore have to try and find fixes on the dyno.

We?re looking at various options for next year. I think the one thing that is pretty certain is that the team will not be designing its own gearbox next year, so we?re either going to be a customer of Xtrac or a customer of somebody else. We don?t have the resource to do an in-house design.
Geoff Willis

However he believes the team have made good progress since the start of the season, having not been able to do any pre-season testing:

I think to date we have generally kept level with the other start-up teams which are developing the cars. I think the drivers have found their way around the car pretty well and from race two or three we have been more or less fixed on set-up and are getting slicker at operating the car and getting the best out of the race weekend.

You can clearly see we have been maintaining pace and if anything compared to the leading cars, closing up. We were 6.5% off the pace and now we are typically 4.8-5% off with qualifying time. The car is fundamentally the same, so I think that has come from the drivers. Both of them have worked well with the team and have a good working relationship.
Geoff Willis

The 107% rule set to return next year but despite HRT languishing at the back of the grid Willis says he’d be happier with a lower target:

I think at one race it would have been an issue. But from an F1 engineering point of view the limit should actually be closer than that, more like a 5% rather than a 7% rule. I think you have to expect the teams to operate at a certain level, that?s what we want from Formula 1.

Obviously we would be a little bit uncomfortable with 105% in our current position but it wouldn?t surprise me in the future. It?s just the nature of Formula 1. Go back 20 years and it was much more scattered.
Geoff Willis

Read more: Double finish at home (HRT race review)

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  • 15 comments on “Willis wants testing return”

    1. I think doing testing like Willis mentions here would make great sense, maybe combine it with some promotional runs like Renault and Red Bull as well as Ferrari do regularly (they have teams for that, don¨t they)!

      Intresting, if you think about what he said on their improvement, it seems the HRT is the best ever possibility for judging how the drivers improve over the season!

    2. Rumour has it, that the Virgin CFD and Simulator rigs have bonus points, power ups, and a range of colourful weapons to shoot other cars with.. very nifty :)

      If you type in a key-combo, all the other drivers get hit by upside-down tortoise shells :)

    3. And Michael Schumacher makes a special appearance by driving in the wrong direction on certain tracks :D

    4. I don’t agree.

      It would be nice to have testing on a Monday after certain races and instead mandate that the teams can’t do the other forms of testing Willis mentions. But I think this would go against the spirit of the testing ban in its ability to stop the big teams from leaping ahead; for example, Red Bull didn’t know their F-duct wasn’t up to scratch until they got it onto the track. Keeping testing confined to off-track guesswork yields a closer field, which can only be a good thing in a car-dominated sport.

      1. surely if the poorest team on the grid say they can afford to test, then it makes sense to end the testing ban. Also I semi agree with what Willis says, but i do think that the teams should be given some choice of when they test. The old 30,000km limit should be re-introduced, but with a rule that states at 20,000km of that must be performed at group tests.

        1. It’s not about money, it’s about field spread. The new teams being so far behind is a temporary phenomenon.

      2. I’ve always liked the idea of Monday testing at certain venues. Everything is already in place … cars, drivers, parts, haulers, hotel rooms, etc. The costs for keeping track workers and safety crews around for one more day shouldn’t be prohibitive, split amongst the teams. The tracks involved might even be able to make a bit of extra spectator money as well. It just seems so logical!

    5. Periodic testing can only benefit the sport. It will enable new or test drivers to gain some experience, and teams will be able to test new ideas that have been developed, instead of being forced to use practice sessions during a race weekend.

    6. I think they could do it with 3 or 4 mondays following grand prix weekends for testing at the track, the moto gp teams do that and it works fine. The teams and cars are already in place to carry out the testing.

      Either that or give them a set number of miles they can do throughout the season like they do pre season.

      1. Maybe, but the set number of miles should be pretty low. Right now the teams are allowed to do 15,000km of testing, which compares to the 6,000km or so actually raced. That’s ridiculous in my view, testing should be an aside for the teams rather than the main event.

        1. I dont think its ridiculous at all, in the past they used to be capped to 30,000km, that in my opinion is the right ammount and is likely to be the figure they return to. 15,000km for the pre season and 15,000km for during the season. If you bear in mind that they do about 15,000km of running already at grand prix weekends for things like the race and the practice sessions, 1 test Km for every Grand prix Km doesnt sound too ridiculous and teams will always need that 15,000km at the start of the season to ensure their cars are solid, safe and reliable.

          1. But didn’t Ferrari make the most miles in pre-season, reaching closest to 50% of the allowed mileage? McLaren, Merc., Williams, and I think Torro Rosso were in the 4x%, with Red Bull, FI, and Renault a bit less.

            Ah, yes, see http://www.vivaf1.com/testing.php
            Max tested was 7344 km by Ferrari. Granted there were rainy days, but that happens. Do they really need 4 times that amount then? Seems unlikely.

            1. yes they do need the full ammount, it is used for testing parts before they go to races in season, it is also used for ironing out technichal problems and reliability, like some of the lower teams struggling with their new xtrac hydraulics.

    7. I think the FIA should have given special dispensation to the new teams to test this year. After the pre season tests, it was clear that the new teams were gonna be off the pace. Allowing them one or two test sessions mid season could have made all the difference. It still isnt too late to allow this either. They clearly need it. These teams cannot afford to keep getting results in the lower teens or higher twenties.

    8. This indeed makes a lot of sence, if olnly form a safety point of view. With new tyres comming next year it would be doubly needed.

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