For Formula 1 fans, there is nothing quite like the smell of burning tyres and the roar of ferocious V8 engines. We sit, somewhat impatiently, twiddling our thumbs until we can hear that sound once again.
Alas the time is here. Let’s rejoice as Formula 1 reconvenes in Jerez, Spain for the start of winter testing. This year we welcome some fresh faces to the sport, two rookies make up a new look Marussia F1 alone.
The times posted at testing should ultimately be taken with a pinch of salt. To quote Martin Whitmarsh, who spoke during a press conference in the Spanish city, “like everyone, the car we are testing here isn’t actually the car we will be racing.” Judging by the first day, McLaren will certainly hope that’s true.
Forced to spend most of the time in the pits, a rather glum Jenson Button suffered engine and possible fuel pump problems – these same reliability issues hampered their 2012 campaign. Needless to say, the team were not impressed!
But perhaps this is an example of why testing is so crucial for teams? McLaren now have five weeks to make the necessary changes that could save the championship for their drivers Jenson Button and Sergio Perez.
Since the eradication of mid-season testing, teams will struggle to improve their car with balance updates and general upgrades, for example. See instead, the principle of testing as a chance of increasing car mileage and familiarity. After all, a driver must feel at one with the car if they are to succeed and, ultimately, survive.
It is for that reason that I find Williams’ decision to run their 2012 model a puzzling one. This suggests that no great changes will have been made to their car, which will be revealed on the 19th of this month. In a similar style to Sauber, it seems this year is all about refinement; don’t forget Maldonado’s Barcelona win.
But do we need more testing? Some would say yes. How else are the young drivers of tomorrow going to prove their worth to this exclusive world? Drivers like Alexander Rossi and Nicolas Prost are seemingly hidden away from the public eye. Toro Rosso especially, may find this new rule change somewhat arduous. Vergne and Ricciardo are doing enough to retain their race seats but the likes of Daniel Abt and Antonio Felix da Costa cast a formidable shadow – they too want the opportunity to drive.
However one can’t help but feel that extra testing may only benefit the wealthier (and often higher placed) teams who can afford copious amounts of front wing designs to try. Considering that Marussia have only just installed Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) to their car, this signals a distinct divide between their respective budgets.
Whether you want more testing or not, very few will deny that the Formula 1 has finally returned. Drivers, all with a point to prove, fire up the engines and get testing under way.
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