Sergio Perez, Racing Point, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020

Teams open to further cut in test days but drivers are sceptical

2020 F1 season

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Formula 1 has compressed its pre-season testing allocation from eight days to just six this year, but some teams believe there is scope to cut it even further.

[f1tv2020testa]Racing Point sporting director Andy Stevenson says there isn’t a significant downside to the reduction of testing, and believes it could make for more interesting races at the start of the year.

“We have so many tools available to us now before we go trackside – we have our simulation tools we have us our simulator car as well, we have the wind tunnel – so we have a good idea how the car’s going to operate,” he told RaceFans.

“For the drivers, I think the six days is long enough for them to get match-fit, as we like to say. So they get a good understanding of how the car handles and how they feel in the car from a from a fitness point of view.

“From a sporting point of view, I think it’s actually better because it takes away a bit of the predictability. In the days when we used to have a lot more testing you could virtually guarantee what the grid would be when you got there. So it used to take away from the first event a little bit. But with just the six days there now, I think that all it’s going to do is add to the spectacle.”

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020
F1 teams did 3,898 laps in three days last week
Stevenson believes the sport could afford to cut testing further. “I could certainly see us going down to a one four-day test,” he said. “Because of the tools as designers and engineers we have available to us now, I think we could,” he explained.

“To me sometimes testing does seem a little bit wasteful in this age of everybody discussing sustainability. We all love our Formula 1 racing and when we go away and put a show on, something is really delivered there. But when we’re pounding around tracks on a dull winter’s day somewhere in the middle of nowhere, with no crowds there, no TV, that was always pretty wasteful.

“So I think we are going in the right direction. We’d be happy to see pre-season testing reduced still further.

“One thing that is important, though, is that we always have to consider safety. So I think it’s always wise that we get a chance to operate the cars just to make sure all safety systems are in place before we take them racing.

[smr2020test]Red Bull team principal Christian Horner thinks F1 could cope with even less pre-season testing.

“It [feels] like a long day,” he said, “maybe the session doesn’t need to go to till six o’clock, maybe five o’clock would have been enough. It demonstrates how reliable these cars are.

“And of course, the less testing you have, the more unpredictable, particularly the early races will become. So it’s an argument to say maybe we could even reduce further.

“Just having one three-day test would be pretty challenging for the drivers. But that will then, of course, favour the more experienced drivers going into the beginning of the year.”

Carlos Sainz Jnr, McLaren, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020
F1’s testing limit is “weird”, says Sainz
However some drivers aren’t keen to see the amount of pre-season testing cut further. Carlos Sainz Jnr said it’s “weird” that F1 gives drivers so little opportunity for real-world practice.

“As racing drivers what you don’t do on track you compensate every simulator,” he said in response to a question from RaceFans. “I honestly prefer to be on track than on the simulator.

“It’s weird [that] it’s going to be only three total days for a driver before the Formula 1 season starts. It’s weird and it’s probably the only sport in the world where you cannot train the sport you do so you go into race one with a lot of things to learn still. And with three days only per driver, six days in total for a team it’s even trickier.”

Valtteri Bottas said he would prefer not to see a further reduction in testing.

“I think eight days was a pretty good amount,” he said. “You could get a lot done and if you had some issues you could still kind of recover.

“With just being six days it limits your opportunities to try many different things and learning if you have a lot of issues. I think just four days would be very short time.

“But obviously nowadays the cars are running better and better straight out from the box thanks to all the simulation tools and improvement in the technology. I think there’s a good amount for now, maybe in the future we could do less. But for now I think it is pretty good.”

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  • 15 comments on “Teams open to further cut in test days but drivers are sceptical”

    1. I think Sainz Jnr and Bottas are right the drivers need to get in the actual cars. It’s fine for an engineer to say oh we have the simulation tools, but as we have seen on multiple occasions simulations can be a world apart from putting rubber on the track.
      Also drivers are not machines even the best need to practice to keep their skills sharp.

    2. In the days when we used to have a lot more testing you could virtually guarantee what the grid would be when you got there.

      That isn’t necessarily correct though, Especially back when teams used to all be off doing there own thing meaning you never had a true picture of where everyone was until you turned upto the first race as it was usually the first time we got to see all the teams together.

      And look at last year. We went to Melbourne with Ferrari coming out of testing looking like they had the advantage only to quickly discover that they didn’t.

      I also question the effect reducing testing further would have on rookies, Especially if they go ahead with reducing track time over a race weekend. You have to give them time in an actual F1 car or else your just setting them up to struggle.

    3. If the empty grandstands are a problem (and
      Stevenson mentions it) what about testing during weekends? People work, you know… I live 30 mins from the track but I cannot go there and have a look.

      1. @fer-no65 Good suggestion, and something I’ve also wondered. With eight days it was Monday to Thursday for the first four-day test, and Tuesday to Friday for the 2nd, and Wednesday to Friday for this year. Saturday and Sunday have more or less always been avoided (intentionally or coincidently) when it comes to pre-season testing for some reason.

      2. I think there is certainly a good argument to be made for that @fer-no65, @jerejj. Have it a Friday-Sunday event, maybe do two, to allow a chance to regroup for any team that might find itself in trouble.

        That way there is certainly more scope to get visitors in, both local, but also the diehard fans from other areas.

    4. With upcoming 22 race weekends per season there will be alot of testing possibilities, almost every weekend for the whole season. So in that sense its easier for a rookie to get driving experience quickly compared to say 12 races per season. Maybe not fort the first races though.

      1. @maisch Most likely still 21 for the upcoming season, though, but maybe the one after that.

    5. I always believed pre-season tests should take place at tracks not on the present race schedule. That’s one reason the Spanish GP is usually a snoozer race-the teams know the place so well.

      1. It appears that there are several objectives, for and against testing, some running counter to each other.
        Let the teams figure out what they want to do and where they want to do it. Give them X sets of tires and let them go to Fiorano, Silverstone, or where-ever for as long as the tires last.
        Those that want to test can, and the drivers will get the experience they need. Would save a bundle in travel and out of country expenses. Would ass lots of spice to the predictions championship.
        As for rookies, considering that the number is either one or two each year, makes it hard to promote this as a priority.

      2. The spanish gp being boring has nothing to do with testing taking place there. It’s a terrible track with only 1 real overtaking place.

    6. If Racing Point can get away with less testing, they could just arrive late or leave early. It’s their choice, they don’t need to force the idea onto the teams who do like to make the most of testing. Next year RP will be fielding their own design (!), they might need every available hour to overcome teething problems.

      Looking back to last year, missing half of the tests didn’t affect Williams did it.

    7. If they had less than 6 days of testing at the start of the hybrid era no car would have made the finish for the first gp maybe even two. They need time to shake the car down. If they want to ban testing altogether the FIA need to think about how that ban changes the game for teams when new regulations come into effect.

    8. I think the six days is long enough for them to get match-fit

      Every driver would have made sure they were match-fit before the first test session. I don’t think a driver would be able to complete even a half day of testing, let alone do a full day of testing, if they weren’t match-fit.

    9. This doesn’t make any sense to me. We all see how many races into the season it takes for most teams to figure out their cars. I think more testing is in order although shorter days could be a consideration.

    10. There’s arguments for and against I guess.

      To me, testing used to be so they could sort out and remanufacture parts/designs that they found weren’t actually performing as they had planned and was critical to each team in past years. However with such a compressed schedule, I doubt most teams actually have sufficient time to respond these days so it’s really not all that productive.

      Not sure how I feel about reducing it further – I still get a thrill when testing starts and watch live timing and blogs with interest so I can get a feel for the upcoming season. I think I’d be unhappy about reducing time further, particularly if it’s done just to fit another race into an already overloaded schedule.

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