Autodromo do Algarve, Portimao

F1 teams welcome ban on testing at new tracks for 2020

2020 Spanish Grand Prix

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Formula 1 team bosses have welcomed the sport’s decision to ban testing at the new venues which are being added to this year’s calendar.

Four new venues – Mugello, Imola, Autodromo do Algarve and the Nurburgring have all been added to the 2020 schedule as a result of the disruption caused by the global pandemic. Further additional races at Jerez and Istanbul Park are also being considered.

Most teams have little recent testing information from these venues. Ferrari, which owns Mugello, ran its 2018-specification car at the circuit in June, and AlphaTauri conducted a test at Imola. Some teams were considering running old cars at other venues, but the decision has been taken to put a stop to this.

“It’s the right thing to do,” said Haas team principal Guenther Steiner, “especially in the financial circumstances most of the teams are.”

Mercedes were among the teams considering to run at the Algarve circuit, which has never previously held an F1 race, before it hosts the Portuguese Grand Prix in October.

Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, Imola
Revamped Imola will hold its first F1 race since 2006
“We would have taken the 2018 car to some of the tracks,” said team principal Toto Wolff. “We were planning to go to Portimao.

“But I think that it’s not the right call [to test there]. I think we are all looking at saving costs with the prize fund being considerably down. And in that respect, if nobody gains an advantage by not going testing, it’s the right thing to do.”

Due to restrictions on the use of current chassis for testing, teams have run older 2018 cars to gain track data. However this option is not open to all teams, such as McLaren.

Team principal Andreas Seidl said McLaren are “very happy” with the decision to prohibit testing.

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“It’s not a secret that we were pushing for that because especially when you think about going to new tracks, I think it puts you at a competitive disadvantage if other people can go testing.”

Seidl said McLaren did look at the possibility of using an old car for a test “but it would definitely have been absolutely the wrong sign to the public and towards our people as well in the times of Covid, where we should avoid any unnecessary trouble for our people in order to protect them.

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Mugello, 2020
Ferrari already tested at its Mugello track
“It would have been completely the wrong sign to do these tests and therefore I’m very happy with the outcome and it was good to see that in the end all teams agreed on this.”

Teams are obtaining new models for their simulators to prepare their cars for the new additions to the 2020 F1 calendar.

“The team is obviously working already on all these tracks on the simulations and so on,” said Seidl. So preparations are ongoing here.

“I would say it’s the same for all in the end. It’s an additional challenge to go to new tracks or old tracks you haven’t been for quite some time. An interesting challenge is also Imola with the two-day format. So we’re looking forward to those races.”

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11 comments on “F1 teams welcome ban on testing at new tracks for 2020”

  1. Surely the teams (at least some of them) already had these tracks in their simulators as options for use before since all four have existed for a while rather than completed recently.

    1. Jerez and Mugello its possible some teams have data but Portugal is highly unlikely. In any case most teams will be going blind for race weekend.

    2. I think the teams surely have the likes of Imola and the Nurburgring, and also Turkey, Mugello possibly too, since they were there for a test a few years back @jerejj

      But since it’s been a few years, they would clearly want to update their models to incorporate any changes (chicanes, different corner profiles, new asphalt, bumps appearing etc). I don’t think any team really had a reason to put the Algarve track into their simulator

      1. @bascb
        F1 has also tested in Algarve before (2009), so they have data from that time, although like with Mugello post-2012, some things may have changed, hence, not as up-to-date relevant data anymore.

    3. the thing is engine manufacturers make track specific maps. perfect traction.

  2. A lot of drivers will use a Porsche supercup or something to get to know the circuit. Nothing to prohibit that.

    1. The drivers would be at a racing speed with 5 laps of driving the circuit, the testing is probably not for their benefit.

      Any testing work will likely be to check setup of the car since this could take a lot longer to optimise and the team that can setup the car the best will have a genuine advantage. This could cause some unpredictability but more likely in the midfield where performance is much tighter.

      Also if you can test at the circuit you will be able to determine base things like the ride height which would save time in FP1 on that (although the track is being resurfaced so this point maybe moot anyway).

  3. Didn’t Verstappen raise a complaint saying the testing ban should only be placed on circuits like Silverstone? Anyway it may make it more exciting lets give it a go.

    1. @johnrkh he was complaining about the use of a compressed race weekend at Imola and the reduced amount of free practice running the drivers would have, but there were reports that is down to noise restrictions at the circuit that prohibit more than two days of running.

  4. An excellent piece of double talk from the maestro..
    “We were planning to go to Portimao.”
    “But I think that it’s not the right call”
    “I think we are all looking at saving costs with the prize fund being considerably down. And in that respect, if nobody gains an advantage by not going testing, it’s the right thing to do.”

    If it is so obvious that it is ‘the right thing to do’, why were you planning to go before the announcement of a ban?

    1. @mrfill because that’s his job as CEO of Mercedes, the best-funded team on the grid. This is just Wolff showing that he’s aware of the bigger picture.

      Also, I’d love if we had some great races at these circuits and they were able to rotate 3-5 races a season between new or old venues that they’ve not been to for a while, gives it a real “world” championship feel.

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