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F1 teams head to Mugello for test
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Darren Heath
Posted By: James Allen  |  30 Apr 2012   |  9:12 am GMT  |  46 comments

The F1 teams are setting up in the garages of Mugello, near Florence, Italy today ahead of a three day test, which could prove something of a life saver for some of the teams who are in trouble at the moment.

When it was announced that there would be an in-season test, for the first time since the Resource Restriction Agreement came into force at the end of 2008, it looked like it would be a very significant three days as it was the teams’ only chance outside of a race weekend; a chance to try development parts and to iron out problems with set up.

However since then it has been agreed that the Young Drivers’ Test has been moved forward from November to July at Silverstone. This offers teams a second chance before the summer to get some heavy work done and takes some of the pressure off the Mugello test.

It’s interesting to see that McLaren are planning to use Paffett and Turvey for the Mugello test, as they will also both be eligible for the Silverstone test, so the team can get some useful comparison work done across the two tests.

The reality is that all the F1 teams are developing furiously these days, bringing new parts aplenty to races and these tests will give them a chance to do some work on future directions.

So Mugello, while still important, as it will give a direction for the European season ahead, will not be season-defining.

Nevertheless, some teams have a lot of work to do. Ferrari is clearly chief among them as it has struggled so far this season with an uncompetitive car. It has a major set of upgrades coming for the Spanish GP, although how many of them will appear on the car this week at the test is open to doubt. Much has been said about the need to pass crash tests on the sidepods of the car, an area where quite a lot of freedom is given to the designers, the reality is that many teams have had to retake crash tests as new parts require them, such as noses. So it’s not that significant for Ferrari to go through that. It is certainly not expected to be virtually a new car.

Ferrari lobbied hard for the test to be at Mugello. Today they have a pre-event called “Ferrari Passion Day”, which is open to fans and where they can drive karts, try out pit stops, drive a simulator and engage with the Ferrari drivers.

They will be encouraged to stay to watch the three day test, with entry at 20 Euros and a grandstand seat ranging from 30-40 Euros.

Force India has also not started the season as strongly as hoped, despite Paul Di Resta’s strong result in Bahrain. They have pinned their hopes on a major upgrade package due out in Barcelona, which should see the light of day in Mugello first.

It’s very hard for the mechanics: most of them were away for almost three weeks at the start of the season, have just done another two week stint in China and Bahrain and were given half a day off on the Monday following Bahrain, before going back into work to prepare the cars for Mugello. With no test teams in current F1, the race mechanics are being pushed to the absolute limit at the moment with 20 races, 12 of them long-haul and two tests.

According to Gazzetta dello Sport today, the starting line-ups for the test are as follows:

Alonso, Ferrari
Webber, Red Bull
Rosberg/Schumacher, AMG Mercedes
Turvey/Paffett, McLaren
D’Ambrosio, Lotus
Kobayashi, Sauber
Vergne, Toro Rosso
Bottas, Williams
Gonzalez, Caterham
Pic, Marussia

HRT are not taking part in the test.

Meanwhile Pirelli will begin the first of its tyre tests at the start of next week in Jerez, Spain. Jaime Alguersuari and Lucas di Grassi will drive a 2010 Renault operated by the Lotus team, starting work on the 2013 F1 tyre compounds and constructions.

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46 Comments
  1. Wayne says:

    How are F1 mechanics paid, a flat annual salary? Do they get paid extra for attending ad-ghoc events such as this?

    I recall Whitmarsh saying that the ‘gunmen’ at McLaren do not get paid extra for taking on the massive responsibility of the pit stops – is this the case across the board?

    Sounds like someone needs to start campaigning for better pay and conditions for mechanics in F1.

    1. Jack says:

      They do volunteer for the pit crew I believe. I think they must do alright, plus they get to travel the world with a F1 team, which although obviously exhausting must also be great.

      Any job in the public eye, which is oversubscribed (which I imagine being an f1 mechanic is) will be able to pay relatively low salaries. It’s the same in all desirable industries.

    2. Valois says:

      But, do you know HOW MUCH they already earn?

    3. Wayne says:

      James, why was this venue chosen? It does not appear to be representative of the vast majority of F1 venues around the world… Testing here has to be advantageous to Ferrari, even if only slightly so, as they know, as well as it can possibly be known, the track and the rest of the field do not. And in a sport where two tenths costs 2 million dollars, there really is no such thing as a ‘slight’ advantage.

      I understand that Ferrari lobbied hard for the test to be held at Mugello, is this just for marketing purposes or because of the advantage they would gain?

      Does the rest of the field generally agree that a strongm if not winning, Ferrari team is essential to the sport?

  2. Snowy says:

    James, how does the engine allocation work for these tests? Do they come from the teams’ annual allocation, a separate allocation specifically for the tests (pre-season and in-season) or something else again?

    1. James Allen says:

      Separate from the 8 engines they have to use for the 20 GPs yes. It’s part of the allocation for winter tests/Young Driver test etc

      1. Warren Groenewald says:

        Why is that as the number of GPs in a season has increased, the engine allocation has remained the same?

      2. Spinodontosaurus says:

        I presume to increase the push for greater reliability, or reduce costs by reducing the number of engine sproduced.

      3. [MISTER] says:

        Does it matter? We don’t get DNFs because of engines anyway. They’re driving flat-out for 3 laps on a Saturday and that’s it..the rest is cruising..

      4. rgvkiwi says:

        Cruising, seriousley? Perhaps that was tongue in cheek….

      5. Wayne says:

        rgvkiwi, I don’t think it was tongue in cheek, compared to the three laps on a Saturday, they ARE cruising on a Sunday – especially with the wacky races tyres.

  3. Kevin McCaughey says:

    Will there be any TV coverage James? IF there’s a feed then maybe Sky or BBC will show it?

    1. James Allen says:

      I guess both will cover it, but probably only interviews and reports etc online and on Sky F1 HD channel

  4. Trespasser says:

    James, do you have any clues why McLaren decided not to let Button and Hamilton test in these 3 days? To me it seems a bit odd and there are mixed messages from the drivers, one wants to test and one is not bothered.

    1. Simmo says:

      I think one reason could be that if McLaren and Lewis are parting ways at the end, they need to have a good alternative.

      Just speculating :)

      1. Trespasser says:

        Honestly, I don’t they will part ways. At least I hope so, I was upset when Kimi left for Ferrari :(
        Paffet does not seem to be a good alternative, imho. Turvey, yes. If Lewis decides to leave I’m keeping my fingers crossed for Paul di Resta, I really like him since he started in DTM.

        Regarding the tests, they really should work on the pitstops and long runs.

      2. Glennb says:

        Long runs?
        Long runs *and* Pirelli tyres? Not possible ;)
        I think the reason McLaren (and others) are going with young drivers is that there is no real need for a top shelf racer to be present. The cars are limited to the endurance of the tyres which only allows the car to be driven at ~75% for a short period of time. Why pay Lewis, Jenson etc to run around at 75% when you can get any Joe to do that for you? No disrespect to young and/or reserve drivers either. The drivers are instructed as to what their sector times must be and drive accordingly. The team can then accurately predict which exact moment the tyres will fall over. “Very good Jenson, at these deltas, your tyres will start to go off on lap 8, at the exit of turn 11. They will be complete rubbish by turn 13 same lap. Box lap 8″.
        You don’t need top-shelf drivers for that ;)

      3. James Clayton says:

        There’s a small part of me that sees Lewis and Kimi together at Lotus next year…

    2. double eyepatch says:

      I’m going to put out a theory that could be a bit of stretch, but may be plausible for Gary’s role for the upcoming test.

      When the special test for the first Pirelii fits were held after the last 2010 race, Gary Paffet conducted the Mclaren program. Many thought it was the wrong move to not let the race drivers take the test to get a feel for them, but I Gary was there so he could get a feel to model the tyres behaviour for their simulator, for which he does the most work of all the drivers to develop.

      I firmly believe what Gary did for the simulator with that Pirelli test drive led to the team quickly overcoming that horrid winter testing prior to the next season.

  5. Baghetti says:

    I can see that some of the less wealthy teams are not using their racing-driver line-up for this test as for them this is probably a matter of sponsorship arrangements with the ‘reserve’ drivers, but I cannot understand why McLaren are not using Button and/or Hamilton. It looks to me as if obtaining a better understanding of the tyres is still one of the crucial items for this test, and wouldn’t tyre behaviour be something that is driver-specific?

  6. MarkedOne8 says:

    Lotus gets more and more involved in FIA stuff.First they designed new roll-hoop for FIA Institute Safety test, now Pirelli will have their car for testing new tyres…

  7. madmax says:

    Some of McLaren’s decisions I find bizarre.

  8. Andrew Barratt says:

    As usual McLaren are in a minority of one as the only team not using this as the perfect opportunity to allow their drivers to work through the tyre issues. If they’ve been genuinely clever then I apologise and hats off to them. If as is my belief that they are using the test drivers purely because Button who was comitted to a publcity event would not allow Hamilton “extra” track time – then surely heads need to roll at the top

    1. Neil Jenney says:

      Andrew, there’s a clue in the article as to why McLaren chose to use their test drivers.

      “It’s interesting to see that McLaren are planning to use Paffett and Turvey for the Mugello test, as they will also both be eligible for the Silverstone test, so the team can get some useful comparison work done across the two tests.”

      1. Hendo says:

        If that’s the case, they will have to wait until July to get a result from this test.
        But if they were to use their GP drivers, they would get immediate feed-back/comparisons.
        For once I’m with the consipiracy theorists on this one – “if JB cant test neither can LH”.

      2. AuraF1 says:

        Perhaps but Lewis also publicly complained last year that his commitments to the team and sponsors were exhausting and he was forced to travel and attend almost three times as many events as world champion sebastian vettel – so perhaps mclaren decided last year not to use it’s racing drivers to minimise their workload?

        Or perhaps neither jenson nor Lewis are prized as test drivers or development capable? Paffett has always been in the mclaren simulator more than the race drivers for new set up work and back when Pedro was the mclaren test driver he was always preferred for development work because of his consistency.

        It does feel like a slightly odd decision but mclaren do like their process and they have always tended to employ slightly older and more experienced test drivers as opposed to using these slots for young drivers. I presume this is for a reason.

    2. Warren Groenewald says:

      Caterham, Williams and Lotus are all using reserve drivers as well.

  9. McLaren78 says:

    James,

    Can you offer any insight on the speculation that Hamilton wanted to join at the Mugello test only for McLaren to deny this? Did Hamilton really ask to join, or was it just media hype from misinterpreting his comments?

    1. James Allen says:

      I’ll look into it

  10. Ravara Mike says:

    I’m completely bewildered by McLaren’s decision not to run either Lewis, Jenson or both at the Mugello test. Can you offer any explanation that makes sense James?

    1. Jenson says:

      I think there is an inherent distrust between McLaren and Ferrari. It is a Ferrari track after all. McLaren don’t want to show their hand in case Ferrari have rigged the place with bugs and cameras……

      Just speculating….

      1. Brace says:

        Well, this really seems a bit too far fetched! :)

      2. DingBat says:

        Wasn’t it Maclaren that got caught spying on Ferrari though? ;-)

    2. james h says:

      they are not going to learn anything they dont already know about LH and JB.Also why have test drivers if you dont let them test.
      As good as the sims are they are not like the real thing.

  11. terryshep says:

    Since there are three days of testing available, it would seem reasonable to fit one of the GP drivers into the schedule. As Jenson is away, wining & dining sponsors, etc., it would be possible to let Lewis have a squirt on one of the days, still leaving two days, weather permitting, for the benefit of Paffett & Turvey to do this valuable comparison in the later Young Driver Test.

    One would have thought that the input of one of the GP drivers would be of greater value then that of the reserves and since the information is shared across the team (isn’t it?), it looks like an opportunity missed.

    Still, we don’t know everything, even if we comment as if we do, so there must be a reason for the choice.

  12. Marc Aubry says:

    To be an f1 mechanic would seem a cool thing to have on your resume.

    McLaren giving Labor Day off to LH & JB is sweet of them. Seriously now why would they not select at least one? At first I thought that it could be that the work planned for the tests, can be executed by any solid driver as it could be gritty work. if all that is expected in terms of performance, is for you to take it around at a good and even race pace. It might be a reasonable thing to do for the drivers.

    Well better hope it is not because McLaren feels that they have enough of an edge on the competition.

    If as some of you profess or mention, JB is somehow connected with LH not running in the test, I would look at JB differently to be sure.

    Hope the tests result in a closer field altogether rather than 2 or 3 teams breaking away from the field.

    I have enjoyed the season has it is so far. More of the same I would not mind. Mindless of who would end up at the top after the last race. Marc

  13. Anand R says:

    90% comments @ McLaren decision! Again they choose their own path just like with design. I fear this might have deeper repercussions!

    On a lighter note, maybe they decided to practice Pit Stops all 3 days… wont need Hamilton and Button presence for that! ;)

    As someone said, you spend millions of hours and dollars on finding a few tenths via aero set up and the wheel nut jam costs you 5 secs*3stops= 15 seconds!

    1. Gatsby says:

      So true!

  14. Massimosti says:

    James
    I am a bit worried as to why McLaren having such an issue with their tyres operating window. I am led to believe they have the most complete database of information of all types of tyres and compounds they have used in F1 and use this to run their simulations for each track.

    Is it possible this data is giving them incorrect solutions for their set up and strategy – especially with the new Pirelli compounds?

    1. Gatsby says:

      I’m sure someone is not sleeping at night because of it!
      Not me anyway….

  15. Matthew Atkin says:

    Surprised that so many people are talking about the drivers Mclaren are running. It makes perfect sense to me. Since the ban on testing I’ve seen near uncountable complaints that drivers aren’t able to accustom themselves to chassis in case of driver injury (Badoer and Fisichella subbing for Massa, for instance), that the single Young Driver’s Test does not offer enough time to evaluate future talent, etc, etc. Running these two youngsters at Mugello provides ample opportunity to gauge their talent, and keep them up to date in the event that Button or Hamlton suffer an unfortunate injury later on in the year.

  16. andrew says:

    Just wanted to mention, regarding Ferrari’s recent missteps, there might be one key explanation that makes some illuminating sense. I read today in the “New York Times” that Ferrari’s President, Luca Codero di Montezemelo has spent the last few years as also the President of “Italo”, the newly launched private-sector owned high-speed Italian passenger rail system. Billions spent on its development. That’s quite a distraction from F1, wouldn’t you agree? How do you become F1 world champions when your President is busy challenging the huge Italian government, in a high stakes business venture? I had no idea. (Sorry if this is a little off the above topic, but nevertheless potentially relevant news to the F1 fans.)

    1. db4tim says:

      If properly run (Ferrari F1) it should not and does not matter what he does….

      1. andrew says:

        We don’t know exactly how Ferrari is run. That’s just the point. Ferrari has gone astray, of late in formula 1. The President has been absent, of late. Seems like too much of a coincidence not to matter, wouldn’t you say?

  17. Peter Scandlyn says:

    You indicated Force India would be taking part – they are not amongst your participants list. Oversight…or something else?

    1. db4tim says:

      For got to add the new RUDDER to the back of the car. :)

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