Nicholas Latifi, Williams, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020

Six days of pre-season testing isn’t enough – Williams

2020 F1 season

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Williams deputy team principal Claire Williams says the sport needs more than just six days of pre-season testing.

Formula 1 cut its pre-season running at Circuit de Catalunya from eight days to six this year. While some teams have suggested cutting the test back even further, Williams says there is now “too little” pre-season running.

“I understand it from a cost control perspective,” she said, “but I think when you only have six days of pre-season testing to do everything that you need to do going into the first few races of the year, it’s not enough. And we’re a team that might expect to be on the other side of the fence because it’s cheaper. But actually it’s not the end of the day.

“Regardless of any issue that we might have or may have faced this year or last year, we would be in favour of having more days of pre-season testing. Not a lot, but maybe two or three more days would be very helpful.”

Williams lost running over the first four days of testing due to various problems, two of which led to time-sapping power unit changes.

“You’re always going to get some mitigating factors that take you off the circuit, whether it’s your own car issues or engine issues,” said Williams. “Or even weather. We had snow here two or three years ago.”

Jack Aitken Williams, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020
New Williams reserve driver Jack Aitken hasn’t driven in testing
Junior drivers are also missing out on the opportunity to gain testing mileage, said Williams. Robert Kubica is the only non-race driver to have driven in pre-season testing this year.

“There’s an issue that we’re probably all facing at the moment in that not having enough days for testing means that there’s very limited opportunity to run young drivers,” said Williams. “And I think that’s a limiting factor for the sport.

“Certainly for a team like ours that enjoys nurturing young talent, we have very little opportunity to actually put young talent in the race car. So if you can’t put them in the race car, how can you evaluate them?

“Therefore, are you thereby creating a scenario where it’s actually very difficult to bring new talent into Formula 1 from the junior formula. For me and for Williams, that feels like a bit of an issue that we probably need to address.”

[smr2020test]Williams would also like to see more in-season testing, which has also been cut back this year, especially in light of the new technical regulations planned for the 2021 F1 season.

“Not having any in-season testing makes it difficult from a development perspective when you’re not doing as well as you’d like on the race track,” she said. “Having a couple of extra days, regardless of the cost of that, would be important to evaluate test items.

“Particularly in 2021, with these new regulations, if you don’t get it right, you’re going to be almost locked into a scenario that you don’t want to be locked into for 22 races.”

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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...
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  • 24 comments on “Six days of pre-season testing isn’t enough – Williams”

    1. Absolutely agree.

      1. I agree with you, and also agree. ;-)

        Once they have shouldered the cost of transporting everything to the venue, just add some additional test time such as another day. It would be something of an equalizer for teams with less powerful or sophisticated computer simulation facilities.

    2. Then why voluntarily choose for six days last year?

      1. They didn’t. They simply didn’t have a car ready and permitted to test in time for the first day. Obviously the regulators are powerless to do anything about this.

    3. How about limiting the pre season test days based on the constructors championship position from the previous season. So Mercedes get 1 day and Williams 10. Or band it so the top 3 all have 3 days, 4th and 5th get 5, 6th to 8th have 8 and 9th and 10th get 10. Then have some more in season tests, with young driver stipulations…

      1. I don’t usually like fan suggestions but this one’s really intriguing. I slightly prefer the second one and I think this actually might be a good counterbalance to the big teams always outnumbering and literally crushing smaller ones in terms of getting on-track data. Hope someone hears of this.

        1. Sharing of data would have to be strictly controlled, though. I can see for instance Alpha Tauri becoming a tool of getting twice the amount of data for Red Bull but the budget cap should somehow restrict the trade with data.

          1. Moto GP has a concession rule so any manufacturer that hasn’t scored a dry win (or 3 dry podiums) in the previous season gets more in season testing and is allowed to update their engines in season.

            So something like that allowing more test days could be useful. Also stipulating test or 3rd driver days during pre-season could be interesting forcing the teams to run a reserve.

      2. Genuinely excellent suggestion.

      3. Very interesting, I like it.

      4. That is a great idea

      5. I like this general idea. However, I’d like to propose a couple of modifications:

        If there are ever more than 10 teams, anyone below 10th also gets a full allotment of test days.

        Any team not in possession of 10 days’ testing may increase it (up to a maximum of 10 days) by the following methods:

        – up to 2 extra days for Superlicence-eligible drivers who have not started a Grand Prix in the previous year (if both days are used, they may be allocated to 1 or 2 drivers as desired)
        – 1 extra day for a driver who is eligible to be a Friday test runner, but is not currently eligible for a Superlicence and also has not started a Grand Prix in the previous year

        No driver would be allowed to use bonus days for more than 1 team in a single year. All bonus days would have to be used during the established test days.

        The idea is that there’d be enough cars circulating to make it worthwhile, there’s an incentive to include more drivers than just the racing drivers (helpful if a mid-season substitute is required), development drivers get time in the car and multi-way battles at the top aren’t artificially broken up by development day count.

      6. Really good idea. On par with how player drafts are determined.
        Worst record = #1 draft pick. Last in standings = more testing allowed.
        I like it. It’s one way of allowing those who are furthest behind a fighting chance at catching back up.

      7. I think that F1 should take a close look at what they´ve done in MotoGP, and adapt their rules for F1 as they work very well, and are a major factor of the success MotoGP has had since they made those changes to their rules.
        ..
        “Certainly for a team like ours that enjoys nurturing young talent, we have very little opportunity to actually put young talent in the race car.”

        Nurturing young talents… that´s one way of looking at it. Another one is that making young drivers (or their sponsors), with a quite low hope of ever reaching F1 “for real” pay quite hefty sums to become “Test, Development, or Whatever you like” drivers of the team as part of your business model is not only quite sleazy imo, but also a flawed business model these days.

        As those drivers will have the number of test/track days written in their contracts, which Williams have to give them. Or else they would be in breach of those contracts and could quite possibly end up in Court. I dunno if Guido van der Garde vs Sauber/Monisha Kaltenborn set a president, but I sure hope that it did.
        ..
        My main point is however that F1 should take a close look at how MotoGP are running things these day. Their rules works very well and could quite easily get adapted to F1 once they don´t need all the teams to agree about rule changes. Which I gather/hope will happen sooner than most big teams think.

    4. 6 days is clearly fine unless you’re 2 years behind the midfield in which case I don’t know if testing is the problem. Williams extended last year’s pre-season test across 21 race weekends and going into a year of unchanged regulations are still complaining.

    5. I have never understood the reduction of testing because of cost. The top teams haven’t spend a penny/cent less because of it.

    6. f1 seems to be the only sport in the world that seems obsessed with not letting its competitors practice. even the junior categories and other series such as indycar give drivers & teams more track time which in turn gives fans more cheap opportunities to go watch them because you can get tickets for testing exceptionally cheap.

      i really miss the days when we used to be able to go to a track like silverstone almost every week & watch cars running and think its a real shame that the current fanbase has lost this and now only get to go watch cars for a relatively limited time over a race weekend at a significantly higher cost.

      i think in 2004 i probably got to actually go and watch the cars running more in that 1 year through attending testing than i have over the past decade combined. it’s a shame and i really miss been able to go watch these cars/drivers as often as i once did.

      same with the recent push to reduce practice. your giving fans less opportunity to go watch the cars & i honestly feel thats wrong.

      1. @roger-ayles Have to say that I completely agree, I also really miss the days when teams had more testing because it was always easy to regularly be able to go & watch them which is what I love doing as a fan.

        I remember in the 90’s we used to be at Silverstone pretty regularly to watch teams testing & we also used to pop over to Estoril when they used to test there a lot & later Jerez & Valencia which were used a lot for testing in the 2000’s. Sometimes you could get in for free but even when you had to get a ticket it was rarely more than £10 & you could walk around the circuit.

        I feel so distant from the sport now because I hardly get to actually go & see the cars on a track in person. I don’t have the money to follow them around the world & attend multiple races, I get to goto Silverstone every few years if i’m lucky but even that is often just for the Friday because the Friday tickets are cheaper (Around £50-60 for General Admission). It’s a far cry from when I was able to go and see a car running on average at least once a month through the 80s/90s/00’s. So sad that we don’t have these opportunities anymore.

    7. what she’s actualy saying is that if they had a couple of more days to put a young driver in the car, they would actually spend less money, because the young driver would pay for it.

      1. There is a philosophy that a weed is only a weed until you’ve found a use for it. If you find a use that earns money then that plant isn’t a weed, it’s a cash crop.
        Unfortunately I think Williams are stuck between a rock and a hard place: they need the money an inexperienced driver will pay to get “hours” in an F1 car, but doing so prolongs the time needed to get meaningful results from the test.

    8. I like Gav’s idea above (amount of testing time based on prior year finishing position).

      Another option would be to have 8 days of track availability, but the teams could only use 6 full days’ worth of time. This way, big issues that eat track time could be made up. For example, a power unit swap takes a half-day from you. You can use a half day later that week. So instead of having test days 1-1-1-0 the first week, you might have 1-0.5-1-0.5.

      Some teams might use 4 days the first week and only have 2 after the weekend. Or risk only using 2 the first week and hope for the best the second week. But the idea is that it doesn’t really change a lot for the teams or the track/FIA/F1, but it does give some wiggle room for teams that suffer issues.

    9. For some reasons williams is blowing PU after PU, 3 pu’s have heard. Latifi has shown some discontent, now Claire. Williams is showing some life.

    10. I hope that it’s not a new failure-approaching strategy. Last 2 years pre-season message from Williams: “We are awesome and we will succeed”. This year: “It’s not our fault, this is stupid!”.

    11. It would be nice if teams can test as much as they want once the cost cap is effective

    Comments are closed.