Minardi wants young driver test sessions on Fridays

2011 F1 season

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Nico Hulkenberg drives for Force India on Fridays

Former F1 team principal Gian Carlo Minardi says the FIA should require teams to run one young driver in Friday practice sessions at race weekend.

Minardi, whose team introduced Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber to F1, said: “Thanks to the preparatory championships, the boys now get ready for the leap and own their young age allows him to easily adapt the methods of F1.

“But we must give them the opportunity to compete and to create a healthy competition. The results of Vettel, Kubica, di Resta and Alguersuari are under everybody’s eyes and the FIA should take account of [them]. Unlike all the work is done from the kart becomes absolutely useless.

“My recipe is very simple: to force all teams to use a young man during the first session on Friday morning.”

Some teams already use Friday practice in this way. Force India did so with Paul di Resta last year and have with Nico Hulkenberg this year.

Daniel Ricciardo regularly drove for Toro Rosso before joining HRT and Lotus have also run other drivers on Fridays.

Minardi added: “Today, some teams do so only out of necessity. Imposing it as a fixed rule on the track at the same time we could have 12 rookies (one per team).

“In this way the choices of some teams will not be dictated by the budgets brought as a dowry, but the boy from the prize list. A team that is in your hands a talent think twice before renewing the contract for a pilot at an advanced age.

“Today the average age is rising because there is no spare. The team is afraid to invest as a young man, unable to perform tests, are faced with many unknowns. At that point, the balance leans toward the experience.”

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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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30 comments on “Minardi wants young driver test sessions on Fridays”

  1. I agree with this – for one thing, it makes test drivers relevant again. Although I can see the big teams (Ferrari and McLaren mostly) merely fielding experienced testers as their “young” drivers to make up for losing one established driver, so there’d have to be some kind of rule about that too.

    1. you mean like McLaren having Paffet in the end of year rookie test?

    2. I think we need to have another ‘Young Driver Test’ perhaps during the summer break to give them more experience.

      I don’t agree with enforcing only young drivers doing FP1 every weekend. There is a logistical issue with such a decision and perhaps more importantly, the actual F1 drivers need track experience to gauge track differences!
      Then there is the whole issue of drivers who have made it into formula one on the back of a huge sponsorship deal feeling they are not getting enough track time for their money’s worth…

      I agree with him though that something needs to be done. Teams are wary of letting young drivers in unless they have a massive sponsorship deal and the case of Nico Hulkenburg clearly demonstrates this.

      1. When I saw the title I thought, “Keith, have you brought up an old article or something?!”

        Anyway, I agree with it, and I also think it should be any driver, no ban on experienced testers. Also, the rule should be waived on new circuits.

  2. oh wow i did read this correctly.. it is Minardi!

    and i agree with him.. partly. I’m not sure about dedicating Fridays to Rookies, but there should be another way to get them in the seat.

    for example, with some teams (ok, maybe just ferrari!) wanting mid-season testing to return, then we could combine the Rookie’s and the Testing together.. Maybe 3 or 4 Mid-Season test days, and only Drivers who have never raced before get to test..

    kinda like the young drivers test at the end of the year, with the current cars..

    other than that, good to see Minardi back in the light!

  3. sounds like a pretty easily implemented and almost for free way to do what the F1 world pretends it needs to introduce 3 extra days of in season testing for.

    Good to hear Minardi is still a clear thinker.

    1. The extra testing was always about more than giving young drivers some track time, just a convenient excuse to bring back testing.

    2. The problem some may think would show up is that a young driver doesn’t have the experience of actual drivers and might find it harder to evaluate updates. True, there is telemetry, but a driver’s opinion is valuable as well.

      1. That might be true Fixy, but on the other side we have heard both team personell and drivers tell us how the first session is only of relatively little worth at many tracks when they are rarely used.

        So in these cases it would not really make that much of a difference. Only look at DiResta for proof, he did not do even a bit worse at tracks where Hulk drove his car on Friday.

  4. Has this been translated to English from another language by any chance, I found it difficult to read in places which is very unusual for an F1F article?

    I agree with the point he is making though, if you have 12 young drivers out on Friday all the teams effectively get to witness a showcase for young up and coming talent.

    1. The quotes were sent to me by email from Minardi.

      1. That would make sense, it does look as though it was penned by a person where English is not the native language that was all. More an observation rather than a criticism. :)

  5. I agree with the idea of young drivers being involved on Fridays, but I don’t think it should come at the expense of the current drivers. Perhaps the 3rd car should make a comeback on Fridays?

    1. Agreed, but the cost cutting police would veto that I think.

  6. Oh Giancarlo, how we have missed you!

  7. Erm… why exactly is Mr Minardi sharing his opinion? He’s had nothing to do with F1 for years. I suppose I agree with him, but he has rather popped up out of nowhere.

    I’m hoping to hear some quotes in the next few days from Aguri Suzuki bemoaning the cost of running an F1 team. Or maybe Andrea Sassetti will resurface with a tirade against his old foe Perry McCarthy

    1. Or perhaps that insufferable Eddie Jordan fellow will pop up and offer his two pence on how to run a team – oh, wait…

      1. And on how to spot emerging talent in the run up to the Belgian Grand Prix – oh wait…

        1. Or talk about all the great results he’s had at Spa – oh wait…

    2. Well people keep listening to Mosley, so why not a guy that actually seems to have good ideas?

  8. I don’t know about this. It’s good for giving young drivers more experience, but it takes away from the running time that the regular drivers get. Perhaps if there was an extra practice session at some point, one for the teams to give young drivers a go without taking away from the established drivers.

    1. Sounds to me like you would be penalising rookies with rookies. A nice idea but like you said, it would really require another session.

  9. the last paragraph is pretty much the case for getting a job in britain – the average age of everyone is going up, people working for longer, youth unemployment growing, ultra competitive job market.

    slight tangent, but there you are….

  10. Do support the theory.

    1. But another problem is that if you have team mates like Hamilton & Button then I guess they will play equal but things will be different as I think in Ferrari Massa may need to sit on the sideline more time then Alonso until they plan to have 3 cars running on Friday.

      1. Good point Wasif. You’d like to think that it would be evenly spread.

        Besides…aren’t these cars designed solely for the purpose of one particular driver?

  11. I think this is a good idea, but I also agre with PM and wouldn’t want to lose a Free Practice session to rookie test drivers. Also I don’t think it woul dbe actually fair on the (finacially limited) minow teams to be forced to field a test driver only or lose the opportunity to appear in that Free Practive session.
    Rather I would suggest a dedicated one hour session to be run before FP1 solely for test/reserve or prospective drivers (who have less that a specific number of Grand Prix starts).
    If a team doesn’t have a driver who qualifies, they don’t take part. Or if they choose not to take part, there is no penalty on them.

  12. Can we get a vote to see if we agree? Maybe the powers that be may take notice.

    Easy yes from me, btw

  13. He’s got a point. The current driver line-up is quite old. Barrichello said it himself, had it not been for the testing ban, he’d have been out of F1 after 2008. But since then, experience is everybit as important as raw speed.

    Young guys are not given the chance to accomodate to the series. Mid-season replacements within the top teams are getting very uncommon, teams always getting Nick Heidfeld back out of the shadow (or even Pedro de la Rosa!).

    But, it’d be a massive risk to let 12 young drivers test in a Grand Prix practice session. Plus, one of the drivers would be disadvantage.

    Maybe it’d be better if the teams did and extra practice session (with limited run or maybe shorter than the others) before the weekend, allowing the young drivers to test. Maybe 45 minutes before FP1 or during Thursday afternoon.

  14. I think this would be a great idea. It would be something of a side plot to the Formula 1 season, seeing who looks promising for the future and even the following season.

    It should be a separate session to the already organised Friday practices though, in my opinion.

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