Return of in-season testing…and ‘cost’ debate

With regulations set to change in 2014—bringing a new chassis and engine format—the need for testing has become a quest of debatable fortunes. Big teams can absorb the costs of testing while smaller teams will struggle to field test teams, parts and resources needed to take full advantage of the sessions. Nevertheless, in-season testing will return to Formula One in 2014 and McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh says he believes it can be achieved while still cutting costs. AUTOSPORT has the story:

“What we have also done is take out plethora of demo runs, aero runs, and the young driver test.

“It is a balance and a compromise that has been struck, which I hope a majority of the teams support.”

The good news is that the series is adopting—which we’ve been calling for—the MotoGP model of staying after a grand prix and testing for a few days after agreed upon races. This reduces a whole host of costs regarding circuit fees, travel etc.

The bigger question will be the small team budgets and if these changes to the testing regimen will be affordable for them. One wonders if the testing events couldn’t be monetized in the process and AUTOSPORT were keen to ask Whtimarsh about the possibility:

“We have tried and done a little bit of that, and by testing together you can do a deal with the circuits,” said Whitmarsh.

“But it is more a matter for the commercial rights holder, because when we are running together he owns the rights.”

The “He” is a reference to Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone but in actuality, CVC Capital partners own the commercial rights and Eccelstone manages those rights. It all comes back to the concept of all the teams gathering to run and who owns the commercial rights for an event that finds all teams participating.

Perhaps a topic for discussion is the revenue generated for testing events and how that might be distributed in a more effective manner to help teams offset the cost of participation. On the other hand, CVC Capital could argue that the teams need the testing with or without the fans and as such, the revenue is not theirs to have.

Time will tell if there is a revenue possibility and how that might be handled but in the end, teams need real testing and perhaps this is more of an indictment on the bravado of CFD design and simulator reliance that the teams spent millions on and suggested would be adequate for car creation and development. The notion is certainly understandable as part of the program but it defies logic that real testing could be less effective than simulation.

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