George Russell, Williams, Circuit de Catalunya

The cost of a testing crash is higher than ever – but drivers say they won’t back off

2020 F1 season

Posted on

| Written by and

With 21 races planned on the 2020 F1 calendar – before the Chinese Grand Prix was postponed – teams accepted a further cut in the amount of pre-season testing. Today is the first of just six days of running, down from eight last year.

Has that led drivers to approach the test more conservatively and minimise the risk of damaging the equipment? After all, a crash early in the morning could write off an entire day’s work, wiping out more than 15% of a team’s available testing mileage.

On the face of it, that doesn’t seem to have happened. Although the first day of testing passed without any red flags, it was clear the drivers were probing the limits of their equipment: Max Verstappen spun twice, while Daniil Kvyat and Kevin Magnussen also went off.

The view among the drivers is that it isn’t worth backing off to save the equipment. Esteban Ocon said he discussed his approach with Renault team principal Cyril Abiteboul and the team’s advisor, four-times world champion Alain Prost.

Lando Norris, McLaren, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020
“Now the high speed corners are not even much of a risk”
“You still have to push the car,” he said in response to a question from RaceFans today. “We had a good chat with Cyril and Alain about this.

“It’s important that you push the car to have good references, to have yourself ready, but also to have proper, to produce data. Because that’s the way you’re going to be able to improve the car.

“So you can’t have the compromise like that. You still have to push it like there was more time and hopefully there won’t be mistakes.”

Lando Norris said the Circuit de Catalunya is a fairly forgiving circuit if drivers make mistakes.


“The cars are so quick now the high speed corners are not even much of a risk and therefore everything is relatively safe,” he explained. “The places you need to push to the limit are not super-high speed and therefore there’s not a lot of risk in trying to push a little bit more.”

[smr2020test]”This year there’s some adjustments to the track, like where Pierre [Gasly] went off last year. And they’ve adjusted the entry kerb to turn nine. There’s quite a bit of run-off in a lot of corners now. So I think we can still push a lot.”

The most experienced driver in F1 today, Kimi Raikkonen, said the reduction in testing is unlikely to change his approach to driving.

“The program might change a little bit because there’s less days,” he said. “Obviously trying to stay out of any issues or walls.

“It depends really how many spare parts you have as a team. I think that really dictates a lot if something goes wrong or not. But these days the cars are quite reliable so in the past obviously you could lose some part and go off because of that but that rarely happens any more.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2020 F1 season

Browse all 2020 F1 season articles

2 comments on “The cost of a testing crash is higher than ever – but drivers say they won’t back off”

  1. If you practice at 80% you are really good at doing things at 80%. Racing and especially qualifying is 100%. 80% is comfortable, easy and consistent with smaller risks and pressures. Real racing however is at the limit where it is not comfortable, there is massive pressure and risks are a constant. Every kerb, every straight and every difficult corner needs to be taken just like you would in a race because otherwise you are not practising what you need to be able to do. Not to mention the only way to improve is to push your limits further. If you are always performing below what you can do you won’t be able to make the 102% the new 100%.

  2. Looking for the limit you have to cross it now and then.
    The only real way to know the limit of the car.

Comments are closed.