So, Bernie Ecclestone has hinted that testing on a Monday is a great idea for F1 for 2010. And, as Todd, Grace and I said on podcast 128, we agree. So I thought Iâ€™d do what I do best, or at least try to, and open this up for debate with you- the great F1 fans that you areâ€¦
Personally when I heard this piece of news I thought, â€˜Great! This is just what we need!â€™ Itâ€™s cost effective- the teams are already at the track. It means the test drivers will be able to get in the cockpit and get a feel for the car and all its latest upgrades. It means that should drivers such as Felipe Massa or Timo Glock be injured during the season, reserve drivers have already got that feel for the car, in order to get behind the wheel and stand in. It also means that the fans have more to see on a race weekend, and if the testing was accommodated in the price of a weekend ticket in some way, then all the better for the fans.
So while we all said this would be great, should it be on a Monday? Should this test day be about setting up the car for the next race, or testing new parts? Would it be more worthwhile for the teams to send their drivers or test drivers out on a Thursday to test new upgrades ahead of the race and work on the set up? Or would it be more worthwhile to give the test drivers a chance to gather data on the Monday in order to help development between races? Would the fans attending the weekend prefer to see this testing before or after the race?
Like I already pointed out, testing on a Monday would give the test drivers, or the drivers of the future, a chance to help develop the car and get a feel for how it works- lets face it, the in-season testing ban hasnâ€™t helped either of Felipe Massaâ€™s replacements get the best out of the F60- but as the peak of the F1 weekend is the race itself, would the fans want to stick around after?
If you are a die-hard fan then the answer is yes you probably would. These are Formula One cars after all, any chance to see them in action is a good enough reason to stick around and watch.
But if you look at it from a revenue point of view, Thursdays would surely bring in more fans and therefore more money, because for many people it is about the build up to a race. However, if testing was on a Thursday would it be manipulated into just another day of track time where the no.1 and no.2 driver dominates the session, and reserve drivers donâ€™t get as much time as perhaps they should.
Scheduling the testing for Mondays would mean that racing would be out of the way, so it would be about collecting additional data to make developments before the next race, but while every circuit differs, Thursdays would enable the teams to get the best shot at getting the performance out of the car required for that specific track. So, you could look at it as Thursdays being part of the show, part of the build up to the end result, whereas Mondays wouldnâ€™t be a show, it would simply be about testing and developing the car.
So what do the fans want? Of course the main point to make is that any extra day of testing, regardless of when it is, is beneficial to the teams, and a bonus to the fans, particularly with it being held at the circuit on the exact same weekend. Of course more track time is what the fans want, and needless to say the teams need it. This season has proved that without being able to test, it has been harder for the slower teams to catch up with the front runners- McLaren and Ferrari were prime examples of this at the start of the season, and it has taken several race weekends to develop their cars, where testing would go a fair way to solving that problem. This season we have also seen Luca Badoer struggle as Massaâ€™s replacement, and Fischella hasnâ€™t done as well as he was expected since he filled the role. Is this down to the ban on in-season testing? Kobayashi will fill the second race seat at Toyota this weekend filling in for Timo Glock, but without any solid testing, how exactly will he cope?
Of course as always, Iâ€™ll leave this open for your opinions, but to me this is a great idea for both fans and the teams- itâ€™s just what we want, and just what they needâ€¦
In the meantime enjoy Brazil and Iâ€™ll see you next week, when I could very well be talking about the 2009 world championâ€¦ Now that is an exciting prospectâ€¦