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FIA moves to prevent repeat of Alguersuari and Grosjean errors
FIA moves to prevent repeat of Alguersuari and Grosjean errors
Posted By: James Allen  |  16 Dec 2009   |  7:31 pm GMT  |  61 comments

The FIA has made another quiet but sensible decision, putting right something which was clearly wrong this season by allowing young drivers to test a car should they be called upon to move up to a race seat.

Alguersuari: In at the deep end

Alguersuari: In at the deep end

This season Jaime Alguersuari and Romain Grosjean were obliged to jump into a race car with no testing when they were called up to replace race drivers who had been sacked. Luca Badoer also had a torrid time in the Ferrari with no opportunity to familiarise himself with the car.

The testing ban was introduced as a cost saving measure, allowing teams to lay off their entire test team staff, but it backfired and the young drivers situation was clearly not acceptable for the world’s premier motor sport discipline.

The FIA statement says, “If a team declares that one of its current race drivers is to be substituted by a driver who has not participated in an F1 race in the two previous calendar years, one day of track testing will be permitted between the start of the week preceding second Event and the last Event of the Championship.

“The following must be observed: Any such day may only be carried out by the new driver and may not take place on a circuit hosting a race in the current Championship year.

“Any such day may only take place within a period 14 days prior to the substitution and 14 days after the substitution has taken place. If a team, having declared the driver’s substitution and performed the test, does not then enter an Event with the new driver, the team will be penalised by a reduction of one day from the pre-season track testing days available in the following year.”

Given the uncertainty and budgetary difficulties of some new teams we may well see this new rule being used next season.

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Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!

Richard, good thought although the logistics cost of three chassis at each gp would be back to the old days.

Testing in Europe or closest country would be cheaper.


Frankie, absolutely right. Let’s hope this is a new dawn for the fia.


I appreciate the cost cutting drive to prevent the ferraris et al testing their way to victory, but don’t we need more testing in f1.

Completely banning testing has just gone to the other extreme.

What do you feel would be a good solution on no of days testing. Surely 1 day per month on non race weeks?


I think the FIA have realised that their policy towards young drivers and the ban on testing is not only unfair to the drivers, but dangerous aswell.

How must the experienced drivers feel, coming up to lap someone who they know has only tested the car via a simulator and not in person. I can understand the huge desire the FIA and the teams have for slashing running costs, but there is only so far you can go before the sport becomes unsafe for those involved.


“The FIA has made another quiet but sensible decision”

What a difference and I cannot underline these sentiments enough. Was wary Of Todt because of his history, but cannot praise him enough for his approach. As with Obama, still not completely sure it’s exceptional on a stand alone basis or just by comparison with their predecessors?


This does seem a sensible decision. I’m not convinced that the testing ban is a real cost saver. However, with more races on the calendar there is little time available for testing. I can’t see why we don’t have 3rd cars in Friday practice with reserve drivers getting a go; reinstating that would avoid the need for the new rookie test rule. That said, if all 13 teams fielded a 3rd car Friday would be bit crowded!


Excellent news – I found it staggering that the ‘new’ drivers last year couldnt do testing – for safteys sake- before jumping in the cars on a Friday.

Good start for Mr Todt thumbs up 🙂


Having only one day may not seem much, but I guess it’s A LOT better than nothing.

Something else bothers me though:

“Any such day […] may not take place on a circuit hosting a race in the current Championship year.”

Great, so a team like Ferrari can do the test virtually in-house, but any team based in the UK finding itself in this position goes… where? Not Silverstone, it’s in the 2010 calendar! I know there are many race tracks in the UK, but I can’t recall when any of them were last used for F1 testing.

Now, I’m sure Mercedes, McLaren, Red Bull or Renault wouldn’t think much about packing 3-4 lorries and drive through Europe for an unscheduled test, but I’m not sure the new F1 teams would see it this way.



if you’re packing up the trucks, it makes little difference if they go to silverstone or valencia – apart from the better weather in spain 🙂


While this is a nice gesture for teams stuck in a bind, the fact remains that the Alguersari/Grosjean situation didn’t arise out of bad FIA rules, but of incompetent team management.

Both Renault and Torro Rosso knew before the season started that there was a good chance one of their drivers would get the boot mid-way through the season, but neither of them actually bothered to make sure a replacement was ready to go. Ferrari had 3 “reserve” drivers signed up, but none of them was either competent or fit enough to fill in when Massa had his accident. Red Bull, equally, were using David Coulthard as a stand-in 3rd driver for the first few races of the season while they decided which of their rookies would get the job – first Brendon Hartley, then someone else. I’m not sure that that sort of managerial incompetence from a Team Principal shouldn’t be punished.


Is it no coincidence that neither of the drivers mentioned have firm deals for next year? Talk about a career ruiner. Grosjean in particular would be a Mike Thackwell-esque waste of talent.


What everyone seems forgetting is this supposed abuse of the rule, testing of the radicl floor design etc would be accomplished by a rookie driver having no experience with the car whatsoever and hence unable to extract the optimum, nevermnind maximum performance…


I think what you are forgetting is that without a reference point it is meaningless. You will have no way of telling what influence the driver has over any change unless the results are exceptional. I really doubt they will allow changes to the car throughout the day apart from set up. Look at Badoer for example, he could have had an extra 100hp and it would have been difficult to spot.


Isn’t that what I was trying to say?:)


One day may seem quite short but you could complete race distances in that short time. Its better then having no time in the car at all. Getting familar with the cockpit environment and the feel of the car for 60 odd laps, even though its for one day, is a huge plus for young drivers. Its all about confidence


Good news. Disgraceful disadvantage for young drivers. I actually think Alguersaurihas talent and he’s shown flashes of it, but Grosjean on the other hand – no. Worse than Piquet. I can’t see a future for him in F1.

Any news on Schumacher though?! I’m dying to know some!!


The good start of the new regime continues. Let’s hope the new F1 Commissioner has the same common sense approach.


They could probably do with rejigging the details of that, no?

Struggling mid-season, you badly need a test, arrange to pound round Jerez with some known-quantity GP2 peddler, then don’t make the switch … all it cost you was one day of testing in the new year, who cares, you’ve benchmarked a whole garage full of front and rear wings, and have got some interesting tyre numbers and a good headstart for the guys busy building the new car, i’d take that trade.

Surely it should cost you a day no matter what, and if you then don’t race the stand-in, it costs you some more days on top, just to nip that particular temptation in the bud.


I’m guessing they didn’t do that in case the end of the season is near and the team doesn’t have a “banker” day…


This seems like a good idea but I’m scratching my head to think of a way the teams will try to find a way to slide around this i.e. would it be beneficial or worth it for perhaps lower teams to change drivers more frequently to get additional testing days…


A team can only have four drivers per year except through force majuere. So unless the drivers were going to deliberately injure themselves or get arrested or something (extremely unlikely), such a clause could only be invoked twice in a season. Also, the disruption would be considerable. Nonetheless…


Glad the FIA have seen sense on this one, but I do agree that one day isn’t enough.

Crid [CridComment @ gmail]

This isn’t all that generous. *ONE* day of testing? To build reflexes to go up against Ham and Alonso and Vettel? I think this cost control thing is maybe getting out of hand.

And yet… You’d have to have a heart of stone to not have been amused by Roman’s shunt at turn 17….


That is probably the most sensible suggestions I have ever heard. Actually it might be away to help tracks like Donnington or Paul Ricard keep there hand in.


Common sense? What will happen next? Lower ticket prices? Forget I said that.

Seriously, this is good news. Giving them a day at least gives a chance for these guys to get used to the car and its systems.


And what happens if the day gets called off because of bad weather, will the team be allowed to use another day, or will the team lose out on the testing time?


All tests have to be conducted with an ECU on board, so it would be easy for a team to prove it did no running on a given day and therefore ask to try again later – provided the 28-day (14 days before/14 days after) window hasn’t passed.


If the test got cancelled after 10 minutes due to adverse weather… …I’m guessing the response would be “Tough luck”.


I still think they should introduce Monday testing after the GP weekend.

But surely they could have monthly test events which could be funded by ticket sales. How good it would be to see Alonso and others in their new car rather than a 4 month wait.


Yes. Good rule change. James, don’t there need to be a few more conditions on the rule to prevent abuse though?

…suppose next year Mclaren is locked in a close battle with Ferrari for the championship with 3 races to go. The aero guys come up with a radical new design for the floor of the car which they think is worth 0.3 secs per lap. it would be a bit risky to chuck it on the car at the race to see if it works so why wouldn’t you nominate Lewis Hamilton to be replaced by Gary Paffett and go test the new car out? the only penalty is 1 day of testing at the beginning of next season. for the money and glory of a championship surely that is a great trade off and worth a bit of rule bending.


Putting Mclaren getting away with something like that of all teams is quite funny.


Well there is a “spirit of the rules” dimension, of course, wait and see what happens


Hahaha “spirit of the rules”!!! 🙂

You mean like double diffuser “spirit of the rules”. 🙂




Great! Does it mean Michael Schumacher is allowed to test drive a Brawn? He has been out of F1 for three seasons.

Much kudos to Kobayashi however. He really deserves a drive at Renault.


“…track testing will be permitted between the start of the week preceding second Event and the last Event of the Championship.”

No. The first race hasn’t happened, and Mercedes is not replacing a driver.

On the other hand, if this rule was in place at the time of Hungary 2009, he would have been able to test an F60.


Off topic, but Ferrari getting ready for Massa to take a year off so Schumi can get a seat for a year?


Please mac, you must be posting that for a laugh


Slightly tongue in cheek but also knowing Ferrari’s Machiavellian tendencies I reckon they’d do anything to keep Schumi from going to Merc 😉

Schumi gave up his seat for Massa. Time for Massa to return the favour?


I’m just wondering where did you get this assumption from that story?


This is a very sensible decision. It’s unfair on new drivers to jump into the thick of the action with no F1 driving experience whatsoever, and it’s also an unnecessary risk for the other competitors. The current testing restrictions are really annoying, it’s good to have a new rule against the general trend.

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