Three-day test “ample”, could be cut to two

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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