Felipe Massa has put an idea forward to those who will listen regarding the testing ban and the way a grand prix weekend is structured. Currently, and as agreed by all the teams, testing during the season is now banned; a decision that has caused some drivers to speak up, complaining of lack of training and familiarity of a Formula One car. However, Massa thinks that by cutting the race distances and Friday sessions, testing could resume and even become a part of the championship.
Testing was significantly reduced in 2009 as a way of reducing costs and placating Max Mosley who is on a mission to get the finances needed to run a team right down. The advantage of this is that new teams will be able enter the sport more easily, and of course, in the current economic climate it is prudent to reduce the outgoings. However, Pedro De La Rosa spoke up last weekend of possible dangers involved with the testing ban, namely the fact that reserve pilots won’t get a chance to drive the car, and should they be called up, they will be “rusty”.
I’m of the opinion that Pedro De La Rosa is just whining, especially considering that on the same day as the Spaniard made his comments, Giancarlo Fisichella was telling reporters how he hasn’t driven a Formula One car since pulling into the Interlagos pitlane at the final round of the championship last year. The timeframe between Fisichella’s drives matches the example presented by De La Rosa – four months. Needless to say, Giancarlo had no problem getting back into the swing of things, testing the brand new Force India VJM02.
However, Massa does have a point when he says that development testing is important. With KERS still dragging its feet in many of the team’s design offices, there is little time to actually test any parts. Considering the importance placed on KERS, integrating a working version into a car without actually testing a real life system on a real life car will be very difficult.
Felipe has suggested that Friday’s practice sessions, currently two 90-minute windows on the day before qualifying, should be scrapped. Massa stated that these sessions receive little attention and Saturday morning should be used to refine set ups. By taking away the Friday runs, the teams will save money, and this could be used for testing during the season. And to make his idea more appealing, Massa also suggested that the test sessions should be somehow incorporated into the championship in order to encourage all the teams to take part.
I have some ideas – that maybe the races could be slightly shorter, because in the last 15 laps nobody cares about the race anymore. The Friday is not so important for the show, so you can use the Saturday morning, and take away the Friday, and do two, three or four sessions during the season, not together, separated, making a testing championship.
Maybe the winner has a bonus for the championship, or whatever you want to give.
You would have a lot more media coverage of testing and it would be very interesting for everyone. Felipe Massa.
Perhaps Massa’s idea is a little crazy, and I’m not sure the Brazilian driver has thought this through thoroughly enough. It is possible for Felipe to have an ulterior motive behind wanting the in-season tests to resume, but currently I’m struggling to figure what that could be, and also how a testing championship would actually work.
Massa spoke today ahead of an important meeting taking place in Geneva where FOTA are discussing the future of Formula One and are due to hold a press conference tomorrow to present their ideas. Let’s hope they weren’t listening to Felipe today.