Christian Horner, Red Bull, Bahrain International Circuit, 2023 pre-season test

Three days’ testing is “ample” and could be cut to two – Horner

2023 F1 season

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Formula 1 team principals see no need to increase the amount of pre-season testing despite complaints from some drivers that three days of running is insufficient.

Fernando Alonso last week pointed out that dividing the test between the teams’ pairs of driver meant each would get one-and-a-half days each. “That’s a little bit unfair,” said the Aston Martin driver.

“As I’ve said in previous winters as well, this is the only sport in the world that you do one day-and-a-half of practice and then you play a world championship.”

Mercedes driver George Russell recently called for F1 to allow teams to run two cars during tests, as they do at grands prix, to give drivers more chance to run. However team principals are not looking to increase the amount of testing, which would add to their costs.

Alexander Albon, Williams, Bahrain International Circuit, 2023 pre-season test
Gallery: 2023 F1 pre-season testing day one in pictures
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said “three days is ample” under the current regulations. “Look at the reliability we’ve had this morning,” he told media including RaceFans during the FIA press conference in Bahrain today. “I think we had one red flag very early on that was rectified pretty quickly.”

Horner said limiting the amount of testing further could create more unpredictability. “These regulations are pretty stable,” he said. “I mean, one could even argue the opposite: When you look at the reliability and so on you could almost say with the amount of races that the promoters are looking to cram in now, why not go two days of testing and go racing?

“If that does create a little bit of a more mixed field at the beginning of the season, is that such a bad thing? And you’ve got enough of the year then to sort it out.”

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“With the current engine, with the current regulations, I think three days is ample,” he added. “Plus with what we discussed in the commission about filming days.”

George Russell, Mercedes, Bahrain International Circuit, 2023 pre-season test
Russell is among those who want more testing time
However Horner believes more testing will be needed when F1 introduces new technical regulations for the 2026 season, will which include the first change of power unit specification since 2014. “’26 is a very different prospect because obviously everything is new in terms of the concept of engine and chassis.”

Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur echoed his view. “This season is the continuity of the previous one. I’m not sure that it makes sense to double the mileage in the winter period.

“Perhaps for the new regulations that we will come back to something a bit more robust in terms of testing to prepare [for] 2026 in the best condition. But for 2023 I think it’s okay.”

Teams have discussed within the F1 Commission the possibility of being given more freedom with the use of their ‘filming days’. Each team may conduct two of these to complete 100 kilometres of running and often use them to shake down new chassis.

F1 “have a good plan going forward it to stay where we are and maybe add a bit of more flexibility with the filming day,” said Mercedes’ team principal Toto Wolff. “I don’t think we should increase costs by just having a second car or doing more days.

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“I think we should give young drivers some time in the car, but obviously that’s also not very easy. So if we were to stay where we are, that’s good for us.”

Valtteri Bottas believes that among the drivers “everybody would like to do more” testing. But he admitted it may not be necessary. “If you have a clean test, one and a half days, you can get a feel of the car, especially if there’s not been a massive rule change.

“With the simulation tools nowadays, you can predict so much in terms of how the balance is going to be. And also the simulator technology helps quite a bit. The correlation already in the beginning is pretty good in most cases, so that helps. It’s manageable, but everyone would love to do more for sure.”

However F1 reserve driver Felipe Drugovich insisted the current allocation is “not enough, especially if you haven’t raced in F1 before.”

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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...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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35 comments on “Three days’ testing is “ample” and could be cut to two – Horner”

  1. petebaldwin (@)
    23rd February 2023, 13:43

    All depends doesn’t it? If your 2023 car is just an evolution of the 2022 car, you don’t need much time to test it. If your 2023 car is a fairly large redesign, you need more time to test.

    Therefore I’m not in the slightest bit surprised that Mercedes have moaned about the lack of pre-season testing time and Red Bull are saying it should be even less.

    As always, best to ignore what the teams say because they only care about what gives them a competitive advantage.

    1. Agreed. I think it also goes to show that drivers love to drive and teams want to run the car for exactly the amount of time they need to correlate their simulations and to ensure no reliability problems and then immediately stop the test so they don’t put more mileage on.

    2. They are hopelessly predictable. They want less time when they’re on top, and more time when they’re uncertain as to where they stand. At which point, as if by magic, the supposedly fun unpredictability is suddenly no longer a positive.

      Horner doesn’t actually believe less testing means more variety, of course. He knows very well that teams like Mercedes and Ferrari stand to benefit more from testing than his team does, simply because it’s always harder to extend an advantage than to catch up. So he wants to minimize the chances of that happening and is putting a spin on it to pretend he has an interest in the experience of viewers.

      The sooner the FIA stops listening to the teams for the F1 rulebook the better.

      1. So, when i read this in the article: “Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur echoed his (Horners) view. “This season is the continuity of the previous one. I’m not sure that it makes sense to double the mileage in the winter.”
        Does this mean that Vasseur has the same idea has Horner or not?

  2. Like car launching is useless nowadays, and you want testing to limit… Better direct start the season

  3. I’m sure any rookie drivers and potential new teams would turn upto race 1 fully prepared with only 2-3 days of testing.

    And then we wonder why rookies make so many mistakes early on now and take longer to get fully upto speed when compared to drivers from the past who actually had test time pre/in-season to be able to be more upto speed come race weekends.

    Any new team coming in with only 2 days would be nowhere as they would have virtually no data. Not an issue for established teams who have tons of past data to go off.

    F1 is just going in so many wrong directions now we are in the GP1 era.

    1. And then we wonder why rookies make so many mistakes early on now and take longer to get fully upto speed when compared to drivers from the past who actually had test time pre/in-season to be able to be more upto speed come race weekends.

      If only there was a slot in some/all the race weekends to bring next year’s rookies up to speed with a set of short format races in an F1 spec car.
      Bin the sprints and replace them with pre-rookie races in last year’s cars.

      1. I’m on board with this proposal! Or make the sprint a rookie-only race w/ one car from each team and required to run their junior driver. Points can count to constructors championship but don’t impact the regular drivers starting grid.

  4. Fast forward to F1 testing ahead of the 2026 season, a two-day test and a Ford powered RedBull has only completed 5 laps across two days. Horner will be the first to say that two days isn’t long enough.

    1. Also Honda is dominating the power units and all teams running Honda are saying “two days’ testing is ample”

    2. @tsgoodchild

      Lol.. My thoughts exactly. Since Red Bull have just built on the concept of last year’s car, they don’t require the same amount of testing that teams who have overhauled their car concepts need. So, it’s obvious Horner would harp on about how testing is sufficient.

  5. Or Christian, if you are the winner of the World Championship last year, you get 2 days of testing and everyone else gets 3 days. Seems fair to me.

  6. No surprise there. Why give your competitors more opportunities to catch up to you. Kind of like the engine freeze they pushed for.

    1. Exactly, Horner and his team are purely in it for their own benefit and will seek to reduce the relevance of areas in which they know they’re weaker than their competitors. Whether that’s Red Bull wanting the engines to be less important or Mercedes complaining that fast pitstops are unsafe.

      Unfortunately it seems the only people who think the teams are giving genuine feedback are working for the FIA.

    2. But… they pushed for an engine freeze when Mercedes were dominating… what are you on about?

  7. When you are ahead you want others to have reduced time to catch you up

  8. Horner completely ignores that there are actual human drivers in these cars, some who have never driven a single lap in an F1 car. Only one and a half days of driving a race car is not enough for those with little to no F1 experience. I don’t doubt their ability, it just takes more time and practice than that. I frankly think it’s a safety hazard putting a brand new driver in the first race with such little mileage. I remember Lewis put 100s of miles on the ‘06 McLaren to be prepared for ‘07 and that makes sense to me. It was probably too much back in those days, though.
    I guess it’s fine for those who drove the ‘22 season, but the newcomers are at such a disadvantage solely due to this extremely limited testing. Horner seems to only think about the team and car, not the drivers at all. Maybe they should allow new drivers an extra few days with limits on any aero testing devices. I would also say allow the reserve drivers of other teams to drive the same mileage that the newcomers do, so each team can still do the same amount of running with just a different driver.

    1. Yawn.
      Stop being a puppet and letting George pull your strings so easily.

  9. Such an entitled comment from Mr Horner.

  10. Of course, easy for him to say this way, while those in a less fortunate situation say the opposite, especially inexperienced drivers.

  11. I think he forgot to add that if ever the RB breaks down during these 2 days, its missed track time will have to be compensated by raising the Andretti entry fee

  12. LookIwroteacomment
    23rd February 2023, 18:36

    There is a relatively simple solution to this. Keep the 3 days of testing like it is now, but then allow teams to do up to an extra 2 days of testing for a price. For each extra day they do, remove 250k from that teams allocated budget for that year. This would allow teams to do more testing if they need to, but they would have to weigh up the advantages of doing so against the cost.

    1. @LookIwroteacomment Not a bad idea.

    2. Sounds like a perfect solution…

      … if you want to kick the low ranked low budget teams while they are down.

      1. LookIwroteacomment
        23rd February 2023, 21:36

        How would it impact the lower teams? If anything, it would help them, as they would have access to more testing days. Maybe you miss read what I wrote, or I didn’t explain it clear enough. The teams wouldn’t actually pay anything to do the extra testing days. Instead, that teams budget cap would be reduced, and as most of the lower teams don’t even reach the cap in the first place having it reduced wouldn’t affect them. It would affect the top teams that struggle to stay within the cap though.

        1. Why don’t you just give more pre season testing hours to teams that finished lower down the pecking order.. similar to how they give less wind tunnel time and CFD time to the leading teams. If they’re looking at closing the grid up, this solution might work better.

  13. Filming Days are nonsense, a typical F1 loophole that’s become a tradition, and should be stopped, not expanded. When do we ever see the film (on reels of film?) of “Pierre’s First 100km In The A523”?

    When I’m in charge, I’ll allow shakedowns longer than two poxy laps of Fiorano, so the new cars can at least run in the group tests without conking out.

    1. @bullfrog You see the footage during sponsor commercials.

      For example.

      They do a dozen shoots each day to get different typesof shots for different sponsors or other promotional things which will be used in different regions.

      1. Thank you! Heh, not my favourite kind of commercial, but it seems Toto can’t get enough of them.

  14. To keep the series green, the most important thing for F1, they should do away with testing and practice. Qualifying, Sprint Races, and Races only. Maybe allow one practice day a year, but only for upcoming women drivers.

    1. Jay, I’d like to go in the opposite direction. To me, the fascination of F1 used to be the engineering, the way ideas developed during the season, the way feedback from test drivers in the cars helped the engineers refine the handling, the way one team would leap ahead and then others would try to replicate it, or go one better.

      Is that an un-green approach? No, not really. The carbon footprints of F1 come from all the airmiles they rack up on freight, and from the lines of slow moving traffic of thousands of cars on the A43 at a Silverstone weekend, as well as the number of fuel-guzzling helicopters of the rich and famous buzzing in and out on race day. The few hundred miles that a car clocks up on a test day or in a race is not it itself a major part of the footprint.

      You also need to consider that research can lead to carbon reduction and should not be judged in isolation. For example, almost all articulated lorries in the UK now have the air deflector fitted to the top of the cab. Someone had to come up with that idea, and then they had to test it in controlled conditions to check if it really worked and what configuration worked best. If someone had asked the test driver what they did for a job, the driver would say they’d spent all week driving a 20 tonne rig around a private circuit then someone would have criticised them for being environmentally unfriendly and self-indulgent, but that testing now reduces fuel consumption of all HGVs by about 10%, which is an absolutely massive amount of fuel per year. That’s an example of what I mean when I say we shouldn’t look at R&D in isolation.

      1. I forgot the /s. I was hoping for COTD.

        1. Well I’m not sure what slash S is, but it was the only comment today that got me thinking, so I’ll award you COTD anyway.

  15. Christian Horner, always principled


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