McLaren test driver and once Formula One racer has stated that he believes the ban on in-season could make for unnecessarily difficult situations should a team’s official reserve driver be called upon to race. De La Rosa feels that zero running during the year, plus a reduction in testing during the off-season will lead to drivers becoming “rusty”, and that this could lead to safety issues.
The in-season testing ban is going to have many consequences this year as a major shakeup in the technical regulations is forcing the teams to radically rethink their cars. And with poor weather hampering what running the teams can get in, the Australian Grand Prix in March is going to be very interesting. However, with the lack of testing available, most teams are trying to field their race drivers as much as possible in order for them to better understand the new cars and tyres.
Should a reserve driver have to step in though and cover one of the full-time drivers, Pedro De La Rosa feels that the lack of running could have safety implications.
Arriving in Melbourne with very little mileage done or not having a single day of testing during the season just makes the test driver rusty in case we have to climb into the car. And we could be a problem in the safety aspect if you haven’t driven enough.
When I raced in Bahrain [in 2005] I had done a lot of [testing] miles. The only thing I was not used to was to take a start, but this year the situation would be very different if I have to replace a driver mid-season, because I will have been four or five months without having driven an F1 car, with the problems that brings to the rest. Pedro De La Rosa.
De La Rosa states that not driving for four or five months would make his job very difficult. However, he failed to note that Giancarlo Fisichella climbed into the cockpit of his brand new Force India VJM02 yesterday and drove for the first time since he pulled in to the Interlagos pitlane at the Brazilian Grand Prix last year, almost 4 months ago. Looking at the times, Fisichella appeared to be doing okay and wasn’t massively, or dangerously off the pace.
Perhaps Pedro De La Rosa is getting a little bored sitting on the pitwall, but I fail to fully see his point. The bigger problem with the ban on testing, aside from the troubles it will cause with developing new components, is that younger drivers will have less of a chance to prove themselves to Formula One team bosses. There are allowances for new drivers, but with every testing opportunity likely to be given to the race drivers, developing talent will have a harder time getting the track time in.