Claire Williams, Deputy Team Principal of the Williams F1 Team, has revealed that should in-season testing return to Formula One in 2014, as the Grove based squad would “not be opposed” to more testing, but it would have to be done in a controlled way in order to limit costs.
The discussion on in-season testing was first brought up after teams discussed its return over the Canadian Grand Prix weekend. 2014 could see four additional two-day test sessions join the Formula One calendar which would fall on the Tuesday and Wednesday of a Grand Prix.
Speaking at the UK FOTA Fans Forum ahead of the British Grand Prix, she explained where Williams sit on the subject of in-season testing. She said: “I think in-season testing, personally and Williams as a team, we are not opposed to it coming back but it has to be done in a controlled way and particularly pertaining to costs.
“We are an independent team. We have to watch our costs considerably, we don’t have the budgets of Red Bull and Mercedes. Moderating the amount of test days within the season would be beneficial. From our perspective at the moment, I think we would probably welcome some opportunities to take our car around the track and see what’s wrong with it in order to improve it. If that situation does arrive, we would appreciate it.”
Fellow panelist Graeme Lowdon, President and Sporting Director of the Marussia F1 Team, agreed but felt that the rules over test days needed to become clearer to avoid “abuse”, with the current filming or promotional days where the meaning has been “stretched.”
Marussia were originally thought to be one of the teams that opposed the test due to the higher costs. However Lowdon confirmed that they feel it would be beneficial, saying: “The key change that’s being proposed for next year is something that we would support, which is eight clear days of in-season testing which would replace the current scenario which is actually quite complicated and open to abuse, depending on whether it is a promotional day or filming day.”
Lowdon revealed that he wants “really clear” and “simple” test day rules that are “less open for abuse.” Sam Michael, Director of the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Team, agreed and feels that costs won’t increase too significantly because of how the tests will be run.
He said: “We support it. In terms of the cost change, I don’t think it will make a big difference. You’ve got to test at the Grand Prix circuit straight afterwards. You’ve got rid of six promotional test days, you’ve got rid of four aero test days. The thing that people won’t like is that the three young driver test days are gone as well.”
However Michael revealed that in McLaren’s case, they won’t be using their race drivers should in-season testing return. So it could give young drivers more days to test because they are on the Tuesday and Wednesday after the race weekend. He said: “Unless you have a really specific problem with your driver, I think it will be pretty unlikely to use your Grand Prix drivers. Then you have more test days for young drivers than what you would have before. You could use both too as you could use a combination of young drivers and your established test drivers. The way it is being done is good because it is cost-effective.”
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