Sergio Perez, Racing Point, Circuit de Catalunya, 2019

“This is not what F1 should be”: Drivers oppose plan to cut testing next year

2020 F1 season

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A plan to reduce the amount of testing ahead of the 2020 F1 season by two days has been criticised by drivers.

The 2020 F1 calendar is expected to feature just six days of pre-season testing. Two three-day sessions will replace this year’s pair of four-day sessions.

RaceFans understands the provisional dates of next year’s tests are February 19th to 21st and 26th to 28th, all of which will take place at the Circuit de Catalunya.

Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat was among the driver who strongly criticised the decision.

“I disagree with that completely,” he said in response to a question from RaceFans. “To be honest we already have too little testing.”

Kvyat was Ferrari’s simulator driver last year. However he believes more real-world testing should take place in F1.

“We should do more real driving rather than simulator driving. I 100% disagree with [this]. What we are doing now is the minimum from a driver point of view.

“I’m not too keen to drive in the simulator, I would rather do a lot more test days and travel, even, but this is not the way Formula 1 should be. We should be driving.

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“This is the only sport where we practice so little outside the race weekend. We need this. I’m not saying as much as it was in the past, free testing, but we shouldn’t get less than now I think.”

Kvyat said he would like to see between 16 and 20 days of testing per year, including the four days of in-season testing. However Romain Grosjean said he would be prepared to lose some in-season testing in order to have more pre-season tests.

“Two-times-four days was already very little,” he said. “Winter testing is great: For the teams, for the fans, for everyone. The fans can come, they can see much more. I think winter testing is cool. I’m not in favour of reducing it.”

Pierre Gasly also wants more opportunities to test before the season begins. “For me I like driving F1 cars so if there could be 10, 12 days it would be great,” he said.

“After that I think you need to find a compromise [for] the people. At the end of the day it takes a lot of people to run the car, mechanics, engineers to get everything ready.

“I think in the past it was clearly a lot more intense and probably too much. Now I think with eight days it seems to be quite good so I will not put any less.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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36 comments on ““This is not what F1 should be”: Drivers oppose plan to cut testing next year”

  1. Maybe some additional days for rookies like in indy would be a good idea, just to give them some more seat time and get into the game quicker. With 22 race weekends, do kvyat really need a couple of more test days, there will be enough travelling and driving for most of the team. With so many points available for a season the first couple of races can be seen as testing weekends anyway :)

  2. I agree that F1 need winter testing, not only for the but also fans. But Friday testing need to be scrap for better unpredictability.

    1. @ruliemaulana But getting rid of the Friday practice sessions would only have a temporary effect, though. Yes, that might initially lead to more unpredictability, but eventually, things would revert to how they are with the current amount of practice-running via simulations, and other methods, etc.

      1. @jerejj exactly, if it becomes the norm to just have saturday morning practice the teams will quickly adapt to that. the unpredictability we get from teams missing fridays at the moment is because they plan their weekends around having those extra sessions.

      2. My problem with reducing testing is it will make it harder for the field to close up. The big teams have enough resources to analyze data but the smaller teams don’t. Reducing testing will make the gap worse.

    2. @ruliemaulana

      but also fans

      But scrapping Friday practice is then taking away from fans who then have less opportunity to see cars on track over a race weekend.

      I’d also argue scrapping Friday practice makes attending a race weekend less value. Traveling to an F1 race is expensive & some travel around the world to attend races in other countries & having 3 days with upto 7 hours of F1 track running is more value than 2 days with maybe half that.

      1. @stefmeister

        scrapping Friday practice makes attending a race weekend less value

        Can’t argue with that. But Liberty could create new and more valuable event for fans to replace that. I proposed one make race. Friday is race day with the same equipment for all. Let’s settle the argument on who really had the best talent there.

        1. @ruliemaulana but that isn’t what fans are attending an f1 race weekend to see. when i go i am there to watch f1 drivers in f1 cars and want to see as much of that over the 3 days as possible.

          taking away the f1 friday running and adding in more support events or whatever would for me still make attending an f1 race less value than it is now where we get 3 hours of f1 running on friday where i currently like to walk around the circuit and watch the f1 drivers/cars attack different parts of the circuit.
          i often wonder if those that advocate for getting rid of the fridays are those that never attend the races and therefore don’t get how much extra value & how much more fun you can get by attending the fridays & doing things like walking about the track & watching from some different places.

          if they were to drop f1 running on friday i’d simply not bother spending the money to go as i’d be spending a few hundred dollars to see less of what i’m paying to see so it simply wouldn’t be worth the cost. i’d certainly not bother traveling outside of the us to watch the overseas races.

          1. @roger-ayles Solid argument. Looks like I had to revised my mind after this. In my defense, I was thinking about event for young and new fans not about the core fans experience.

      2. Absolutely agree that the value of a ticket is reduced. Further, the value of an F1TV subscription would be dramatically reduced.

  3. Less testing tends to cement advantage for teams with great simulator resources (e.g. the largest and richest teams), especially in the context of an impending budget cap. There are also too many races, if the first couple are to be treated as testing weekends.

  4. Less testing tends to cement advantage for teams with great simulator resources (e.g. the largest and richest teams), especially in the context of an impending budget cap.

    I agree because the lesser teams gain most from pre-season testing. And so I think there should be less testing for the more successful teams and more for the least successful. Something like ten or more days for the last placed team, reducing to just a couple of days for the WCC team – anything to boost the lesser teams and to decrease their competitive disadvantage.

    1. Bother. That was supposed to be a reply to @alianora-la-canta . Missed!

  5. The bigger question I would like to know the answer to is why is there reduced testing?

    If it’s part of a bargain to introduce new races without losing old races then I’m all for it, as teams have said they feel like the current calendar is pushing man-hours to their limit. If it’s just to cut costs or to prevent the competitive edge for the teams that can maximise the testing opportunities then I’m not really sure.

    I’d like to see lots of race weekends with lots of sessions and plenty of testing too for everyone… But it’s understandable that not everything can be catered for and concessions have to be made. Of those I think it makes perfect sense that testing be the factor that gets reduced.

    1. @skipgamer I think the first of those is Liberty’s intent, and that any cost savings are a happy coincidence.

  6. Less testing = bigger Mercedes advantage. Seriously, FIA what are they even thinking by doing that that is the only opportunity for smaller teams to catch-up. I would even consider reverse-grid testing where last team in the championship has considerably more testing days than the 1st placed.

    1. Daniel Cronise
      10th August 2019, 11:27

      This.

      Damn, that’s the first time I’ve heard that suggested. Brilliant!

    2. Whilst there are those who claim that it gives an opportunity for smaller teams to catch up if there is more testing, how many times have we actually seen that happen, and how many times have we seen it just reinforce an existing status quo?

      That line of reasoning only works if there is an assumption that a smaller team must be gaining more from that additional testing than a larger teams would gain from that testing. On what premise is that assumption founded on? In many ways additional on track testing is advantageous to those larger teams, as often they are the ones who have the most resources to be able to extract the most information from those tests.

      Even if you increased the allocation to the smaller teams, would they actually be in a position to be able to use it and what difference would it actually make? Would those smaller teams have the financial resources to conduct those tests and to then be able to use it to push forward development of their cars?

  7. I wouldn’t mind shrinking pre-season testing a bit – maybe just one session of 3-4 days, if they could increase in-season testing, with more instances of testing being done on Mondays that don’t lead to a double-header.

    I think teams will benefit more from in-season testing and development, alongside some testing that they already do in FP1 (From what I’ve observed, FP2 tends to be more of race simulation, due to the similar time as quali and the race).

    This reduction in pre-season testing is a decision that is likely to come back to roost in 2021 when teams move to 18″ rims. Maybe that’s what Liberty is going for, use that to shake up the prevailing order.

  8. Just test a one-hour reverse drivers championship race (with points given only to the drivers) in lower formulas, and if successful, add it to the current format of f1.

    1. Fan polling & surveys suggest’s that reverse grid races & sprint races in general are massively unpopular.

  9. I don’t have a problem with the amount of pre-season testing. But I certainly don’t think it should be more! Your F1 drivers for crying out loud! Get your backside in the car and drive the damn thing. My God, how can you whine about this when it’s so costly also.

  10. Why not have testing on the Monday and Scrap Friday Practice. Same costs hopefully better unpredictability.

  11. Something that often comes up is that Friday practice should be dropped or reduced in order to improve the unpredictability, However there is evidence out there to suggest that getting rid of Friday practice wouldn’t improve anything.

    For instance a few years ago DTM got rid of Friday running to try & make races more unpredictable, However ultimately it had zero impact on the unpredictability of the racing because teams simply did more simulation work & re-worked the race weekend around having less track time.

    Additionally it proved unpopular with fans who were having less opportunity to see the cars out on the racetrack, Drivers hated it as it meant less time in the cars & more time on the simulators & teams also didn’t like it as it was reducing the opportunity for there sponsors to get the exposure while cars were out on track.

    I think after only 1-2 seasons they reverted back to a 3 day weekend.

    1. @gt-racer Almost as if you took words from me, LOL. Yes, that’s indeed what probably would happen with F1 as well. The point about the simulation work in the second paragraph, I mean.

  12. The solution is to have 2 races…
    -friday morning, saturday morning (and sunday morning) are FPs, QP, and 1 race of the first race.
    -friday afternoon, saturday afternoon and sunday afternoon are the FPs, the QP and the race of the other race

    or you can stay with the current situation: friday is open to everyone, satuday is FP, QP and race of first race. Sunday is dedicated to the second race.

    Here is how to get fruity with this:
    -since each team has 2 driver, each can be with only 10 cars (one driver focuses only on 1 race). A driver is assigned to 1 race by drawing lot on Thursday.

    -one race is with the usual direction of the track and the other race is the opposite direction of the track (which needs revamping a bit the tracks…)
    (it is really stupid to have only one track per circuit…)

    I think ideally, each race would be with 20 cars and 1 race is in the opposite direction of the usual race. Each race would be a long race.

    1. ”and the other race is the opposite direction of the track (which needs revamping a bit the tracks…)”
      – Something that would be practically impossible to do without any proper notice, though. You can’t just change the driving-direction (especially from one day to the next) because of how the run-off areas are, for example. LH suggested that on the Sochi circuit, but in reality, it wouldn’t work as the run-off area of the last corner is too small for the approach-speeds that would be achieved going into that corner if it was approached from T2 instead of the penultimate turn. Corners that are approached by high-speeds require vast run-off areas in case of, for example, a brake-failure.

    2. I don’t think you understand track safety. You CANNOT run a race in the opposite direction safely. The opening or access points for equipment will have no protection and will increase significantly, the chances of a fatal collision. Its also becomes unsafe in runoff areas which were designed with a specific direction in mind.

      If you’ve attended a race live, it’s more a matter of value for the time and money that fans spend to attend races. For me any reduction in F1 action at this point will diminish the value of the 3-day event and I won’t be attending anymore. Support races do nothing to add value to but are good in occupying the time of attendees. It’s also not ideal seeing cars breakdown or not able to perform at their best as it takes away from on-track action. Every car that drops out of a race creates a gap in action on track for those attending and this was quite evident for those attending the 2014 USGP.

  13. Reducing testing is a false economy that will only benefit the top few teams, and limit opportunities for new drivers to come into the sport.

  14. Pre-season, in-season testing and race weekend format is a very serious topic that needs a lot of studying. Opinion of F1 fans must also be taken into account. My view is that 3 day-long F1 weekend must remain. I would like if only 3rd or test drivers could take part on Friday FP1. This session would be like a in-season testing as well as training for new drivers. FP2 and FP3 as usual would be proper preparation for the Qualifying and the Race. Concerning pre-season testing, I think teams know better than the F1 fans and it should rather be decided only among the teams.

  15. Possibly someone with a better memory than myself (and that is more than a few people) can fill us in on what took place a few years back.
    The teams had to select if they would, or would not, run on the Fridays. I recall that Beneton Renault were the only top group team to select the Friday running. The back of the pack teams all elected Friday running.
    When was this ….?
    What benefit or price (non monetary) was paid by the teams to run on Friday or not run on Friday…?
    This is as close as we have come to no Friday running, and it was not a success from all the reasons pitched above.
    It lasted only one season and has been almost completely forgotten. Thank goodness.

  16. F1 desperately needs to expand on-track testing for rookies. They come in with a huge disadvantage. Hamilton, Vettel, Kimi, Rosberg – all of the had the advantage of coming into F1 during an era of unlimited testing. I doubt Hamilton would have been able to compete like he did in 2007 / 2008 without the track time and Vettel has stated that the testing time he had was key in his early successes.

    1. Yes, a lack of testing for young drivers is probably the most craziest thing in F1. Imagine this kind of situation in other sports like football, basketball, pole vault etc. Liberty Media must look at this as it is an emergent issue!

    2. @partofthepuzzle, except that, in some ways, the actual amount of testing that those drivers did wasn’t as much as you might think they did.

      You list Raikkonen, but I believe that he did not actually undertake a massive amount of testing before he entered F1 – I believe that he took part in three tests, each of about 3 days duration, at Mugello, Jerez and Barcelona before entering the sport, not that much more than most drivers might clock up now.

      Rosberg, equally, didn’t cover a massive amount of mileage for his time – it was around 9,500km over two years, or about 4,250km per year. In the pre-season tests these days, most drivers are probably racking up around 2,000-3,000km of testing mileage, and then there will be additional mileage during the mid-season tests – the testing periods are shorter, but the increased reliability of the cars does help to compensate for that, since they are then spending more time on track.

      Contrary to popular opinion, for the time they were competing in, Hamilton and Vettel didn’t cover quite as much mileage as you might think either – in fact, when you look at how much testing mileage Alonso and Hamilton covered before the 2007 season, Alonso actually covered more mileage with McLaren than Hamilton did (around 8,300km versus around 7,700km for Hamilton).

      They did probably clock up more mileage than some rookies now, but it wasn’t always quite as disproportionate as it some might think. It was mainly the specialist test drivers who clocked up the sort of astronomical test mileages that some think of when they look back to those days, which was, after all, what they were hired to do in the first place.

  17. Keep pre-season testing as is – but scale the time allowed for in-season testing based on championship position. e.g. first in championship gets minimal running, and last in the championship gets maximum running.

    A bit of an absurd idea, but it would allow the teams who clearly need more help close the gap. It wouldn’t really change the top teams from dominating – but it could help close the gap – making races more interesting across the field.

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