Ferrari development driver Pedro de la Rosa has questioned Formula One’s decision to reduce testing, arguing that it will potentially stifle the progression of young drivers into the sport.
De la Rosa, who last raced in Formula One with HRT in 2012, was standing in for Kimi Raikkonen on the opening day of testing at Silverstone after the Finn’s heavy accident on the opening lap of Sunday’s British Grand Prix.
The 43-year-old ended the day 10th fastest, 2.7 seconds shy of Felipe Massa’s session topping time, after a water leak brought a premature end to his session.
“You question yourself whether this is going in the right direction,” said de la Rosa, when asked by reporters if it was disappointing to see testing cut back for 2015. “It’s a disappointment generally for drivers.
“Maranello, many days every week, I come out after being two days in the simulator and I see a nice track, empty with no cars called Fiorano.
“I just miss it, because for example today I came here and I need to perform. Thank god we have the simulator to train you a bit. But it’s nothing like the real car.
The Spaniard compared his position to that of a tennis player, going into a match hamstrung by a lack of any real practice.
“I feel like a tennis player, if a tennis player could not play everyday, and then suddenly you are thrown into the final of Wimbledon,” he said. “How would you feel?
“I feel like I’m an inferiority, because the other guys are racing every two weeks and I’m not.”
The former-Arrows racer fears that cuts to testing will force not only older drivers, like himself, out of the sport, but also reduce the opportunities for young hopefuls to break into F1.
“I feel a bit sad about this, because the bottom line is it will make drivers like me disappear,” he continued. “But drivers like me disappearing means also young drivers will not arrive.
“I think at least a bit of agreed testing between all the teams would be good for the sport.
Jules Bianchi, who will take over at the wheel of the Ferrari F14 T from the Spaniard on Wednesday, agrees that cutting testing is a step back for the sport, even if it is an expense.
“I think personally it’s a shame because it’s good to test,” said the Frenchman. “We have to at some points have testing days.
“For me it’s important to have this, you know. Every sport in the world you are able to train when you want.
“I know that in Formula 1 it’s expensive so you cannot do that but at least to have some testing because we need it. Next year it will be different so we have to deal with that, but it won’t be easy.”
Former-Ferrari racer Felipe Massa and McLaren youngster Stoffel Vandoorne both dismissed the fears of their contemporaries over the planned reduction in testing, with the latter insisting that drivers must simply learn to live with the decision.
“I don’t think so,” said the Brazilian, when asked if he would suffer from the loss of testing. “We know more or less the direction to keep improving the car, so I don’t think the tests would change anything for how we develop the car. I don’t think it would change a lot.”
“We have to take rules as they are, it’s the same for everybody,” added Vandoorne. “That’s how it is at the moment, it’s the same for all the young drivers, but at the moment I’m getting very good opportunities at McLaren and I’m very grateful I get those opportunities to test the car.”
Images courtesy of Octane Photographic