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Teams brand Mugello test a waste of time and money, as Alonso crashes
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Posted By: James Allen  |  03 May 2012   |  2:32 pm GMT  |  170 comments

[Updated] “It’s very beautiful and the food is very good, but we are spending a lot of money and honestly we didn’t feel the need to come here,” said Red Bull boss Christian Horner when asked about the usefulness of testing at Mugello in Tuscany.

Lotus boss Eric Boullier described the test as “money spent needlessly” while one of Mercedes’ senior engineers told Gazzetta dello Sport, “I wonder about the sense of having just one test session during the season. Either we do more tests or we forget it.”

Mark Webber meanwhile said, “It would be amazing to hold a Grand Prix here, but it’s too fast for a test; in the calendar there isn’t another track like it.”


Some of the teams are complaining, but the drivers on the whole have been having a ball on the 5.25km Mugello track, which is in one of the most beautiful parts of Italy, near Florence. The circuit has many high speed corners and is a thrill to drive in a modern F1 car, according to most of them. “Spectacular”, “Incredibly fast” and “Stunning” are just some of the reactions from the F1 drivers at the test. Mugello has an average lap speed of 138mph.

But they will also admit that there has been a limit to the value that the engineers have been able to derive from testing new parts on their cars on this atypical circuit.

The logical thing to do would have been to test at Barcelona this week and then leave the trucks and equipment down there for next week’s Grand Prix, which is what the teams used to do in the early 2000s. This made for rather dull Spanish Grands Prix as everyone had such a good set up for the race and the order was entirely predictable. But at least Barcelona is representative of what the teams will face for most of the season in terms of the variety of corners. Mugello only prepares them for Spa and to half of Silverstone.

Also with the young drivers’ test set for Silverstone in July this test isn’t the only opportunity the teams have to test updates on their cars during the season. So it’s importance and relevance is diminished compared to what they expected.

Today Fernando Alonso got his hands on an updated Ferrari with a new rear wing, rear bodywork and new exhausts, but then crashed it. He went off, damaging the nose section of the car, which came to rest with its left side in the barriers.

“At least two hours to repair the damages. It is a shame but that’s testing!”, said the official Ferrari twitter.

Vitaly Petrov had said on Wednesday that he felt the track wasn’t suited to F1 cars, “I don’t think we should have come here,” he said. “It is not safe and wide enough. If you lose it, the walls are so close and you will smash into the tyres. It is not for Formula 1 and, if you lost the steering or the tyre pressure dropped or whatever, then it will be a big crash.”

Ferrari’s full update kit, featuring a new front wing and new diffuser, has not been seen in Mugello this week. It will only break cover next week in Spain, the team saying that it wanted more time in the wind tunnel.

Felipe Massa appeared to criticise this decision in the Italian media yesterday, saying “It would have been better to test everything here. but we are not ready. To close the gap to the top we need to grow faster than them. But I think that in the next few weeks we will find two or three tenths.”

Meanwhile Sauber’s chief designer Matt Morris has spoken out about the feasibility of copying the Mercedes Double DRS system, which was definitively passed as legal by the FIA last month. It seems that only the richest teams are likely to consider copying it, as the cost to benefit ratio doesn’t stack up for most,

“We have done some evaluation on it in the factory, but at the moment it’s not really working for us in terms of cost versus performance,” Morris told Autosport.com. “It doesn’t really stack up for us at the moment. And beyond the cost versus performance issue, it’s difficult to know exactly the potential benefits and then it’s only really useful in qualifying as well.

“It’s definitely a few tenths of a second in qualifying, but to get that [benefit] so many parts in the car would have to be changed. That’s the problem.”

The three day test ended with Lotus’ Romain Grosjean setting the fastest time on a day when, according to Pirelli, the 11 teams covered 1134 laps of the Tuscan circuit, equivalent of 43 Grand Prix distances. The teams chomped their way through 207 sets of tyres, despite limited running on Day 1 due to rain.

Don’t miss the latest JA on F1 podcast out this week: Maxing it out – how to get the best performance from an F1 driver. It’s free to download just click HERE

MUGELLO TEST, Day 3

1. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1m21.035s
2. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m21.267s + 0.232s
3. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m21.363s + 0.328s
4. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1m21.604s + 0.569s
5. Sergio Perez Sauber 1m22.229s + 0.879s
6. Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1m22.325s + 0.975s
7. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m22.497s + 1.147s
8. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m22.579s + 1.229s
9. Oliver Turvey McLaren 1m22.662s + 1.312s
10. Paul di Resta Force India 1m23.002s + 1.652s
11. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham 1m23.169s + 1.819s
12. Timo Glock Marussia 1m23.466s + 2.116s

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1
Micheal Evans

I think the test should be held at Barcelona, but the week after the race, instead of before. This way the race won’t be predictable, it’s at a track that is useful for testing and won’t cost a lot of money as everyone can leave everything set up =]

2

Obviously some teams will benefit from Mugello more than others. But surely it makes sense logistically and economically to run an extra day – thursday on a few gps only which are Three weeks apart, knowing most teams are there earlier. How many times over the last few seasons have we seen teams introduce new bits which they dont quite get enough set up comparison by quali on sat.but by next race is perfect.

I agree that Mugello only suits Ferrari cause they test there. Again more political crap we can do without !!.

As for HRT- they are moving factory and will need time to be ready for the race !..I think thats more important for them than missing a race..

3

James,

I was reading over at espnf1.com that lotus thought they gained a lot of knowledge from the mugellotracks test (guess it may not be that much of a waste) and that they ran a full 100% scale wind tunnel test in the US.

I thought the maximum was a 60% scale?

4

With these tests in Mugello, I hope Ferrari will find the way to the podium and especially find the colors in the race : http://www.wallpapersf1.com/Fernando-Alonso?wallpaper=870

5
Craig @ Manila

Total of 207 sets of tyres used in total of 1134 laps.

So that means each set lasted an average of about 5.5 laps.

Am I missing something or is this very hard to believe ?

6

A thought,after Horner’s comments about the cost of this test being the same as a GP weekend with little benefit>

Instead of a test week have non championship races. Those chasing the championship can experiment a bit and the smaller guys could go for gold.

Maybe that weekends layout could be more test orientated

7

Good call, Guy. I’d LOVE to see that idea come back. Brilliant.

Non-championship races were common up to the ’70s (e.g., the Oulton Park Gold Cup, the Solitude GP and the Syracuse GP). The teams got a lot of valuable testing done and younger drivers got valuable racing experience. Mark Whitlock’s book on F1’s 1.5-litre era covers this phenomenon quite well.

James, did your father race in any of those non-championship GPs?

It would be nice to see non-championship GPs again. As a matter of fact, I know that the FIA used to mandate that any venue seeking world championship status had to demonstrate its readiness to do so by hosting a non-championship race to international standard in the preceding season. That would be a useful rule to apply now, surely.

I agree with earlier comments. If a track is deemed safe enough to test on, it’s safe enough to race on; more, any FIM certified track should be safe enough: If you can race a bike there, you can race a car there.

Some may protest that non-champ races open the way to the return of dedicated test teams, driving up costs. Against that argument, you have an actual race going on, not just a “test times grand prix.” Surely an actual race lets you learn more than “a simulated race distance.”

All else aside, the question is: Would Bernie allow it? Does his lease give him the power to prevent such races from happening? Granting that he has control over the “F1” label, he has no such control over “Grand Prix”. If a track promoter wanted to simply refer to the race as such, then there’s no conflict on that score. Does Bernie have arrangements with track owners that they won’t attempt to promote such events? Are the teams obligated to refrain from racing in any events outside of the F1 World Championship? Would any of these possible restrictions run afoul of EU antitrust laws?

What the heck. Let Jonathan Palmer schedule a race a Snetterton and see what happens. Even better if he goes for Brands Hatch. Laguna Seca? Road America? LeMans? Oh yeah…

8

No, he was mainly a sportscast driver, Le Mans etc

9

Also – what is it about F1 drivers these days?

Petrov crying about a track, Hamilton and Schumacher moaning about tyres, Vettel moaning that it is wet (Korea 2011) Alonso moaning about Rosberg blocking him.

I know F1 has always had it’s whingers, but it just seems to be so endemic these days.

Bloody well man up, the lot of you.

10
Mocho_Pikuain

I found Rosberg’s move pretty unsafe, but ur right about the rest.

11

F1 teams wanted testing. They got testing. They now complain.

Whinge, whinge, money, money, whinge.

Petrov – a man who sorely needs his testing mileage.

Whinge whinge, unsafe track, scary, whinge.

When Jackie Stewart, the father of F1 safety, complained to the sport’s governing body, F1 was in a terrible state. The tracks were lethal, car safety was non-existent.

He was trying (and succeeded) to save lives. Add to that, the raft of safety revisions introduced in 1994 and F1 is the safest motorsport out there. If the track were unsafe, the teams wouldn’t test there.

12

James what happens to the season engine allocation limit for this type of testing? Do teams use the same 8 engines for the season?

13

No extra ones for testing

14
Tom in adelaide

Well, whatever it is that it takes to be an F1 WDC, Petrov clearly lacks it.

15

If Red Bull think it’s a waste of time they could always stay at home!

16

Petrov is typical of this new generation of drivers. The answer to tight confines and negligible run off areas is to NOT crash. I don’t ever remember Senna or Mansell whining about these sort of things. Petrov has only family rubles to thank for his drive.

17

I don’t understand why the teams are suddenly complaining that Mugello is unsuitable for testing, Ferrari seemed to do ok out of the place when they tested there every other week in the Schumacher era!?

18

I understand all the tyres are returned to Pirelli after use. I certainly hope they are being recycled/retreaded for further use! Incredable to think that 828 tyres were used in 2.5 days of running! I’d hate to think that they were just burnt/scraped.

It’s a funny old world, one minute they’re trying to save money/resourses and be seen as “green”, and the next minute the teams are using tripple or quadruple the number of tyres they would normally use.

Personally I reckon a set of tyres should last the whole weekend and still be ok for some testing.

Ok, it might make the racing a bit boreing for some, but at least the drivers could actually RACE for the WHOLE race! AND make all cars start a race at a specified minimum weight that would mean they would finish the race with 10 to 20 litres in the tank so they didn’t have to go to economy mode and drive slower to conserve fuel.

PK.

(I know that’s ridiculous, but I can only dream for real racing!)

19

The unpredictability factor much owes to tire issue, of the last year’s configuration we would have quite predictable sequence (my guess)/ Mclaren / Red Bull / Mrec – Lotus / and then middle group inc. Ferrari etc. With that perhaps Mclaren lost most

20

What’s fascinating is that, it’s not predictable championship! so far at least..

21
Michael Grievson

They knew the layout before they went so should have went somewhere else

The only reason I can think of going there would be for political points with Ferrari when the teams want their way with something in the future

22

James,

Kudos on yet another excellent episode on the podcast.

The BBC Radio 5 program where you will review the FP at Spain on Friday, is that something that one can hear on the web. I was looking at the schedule for the weekend and did not find any.

It it possible to have a copy of the audio file of the show on your site, should there be no contractual issues?

Look forward.

Thanks

SK Anand

23

I don’t believe so, but maybe other readers know more

24

You need to get a VPN that will give you a UK IP address, then you can stream it on your computer.

25

There could be another possibility regarding the testing venue which might kill two birds with a stone.

Test at Barcelona, which will obviously prepare them for the whole season and not race there. Also takes off one boring race off Spain (now that we don’t have a Spanish World Champion).

26

Noticed in some of the pics from this test – and indeed for quite some time now – that the mechanics dont wear those rubber anti KERS shock gloves when the car returns – why is that? How have they got around that?

27

Too dangerous – im sorry, some of these guys are not racers. Just a a bunch of whiney girls now – no wonder has become so soft and dull.

28

It seems the teams are only there to see what the others are doing!!!

29

… and to talk to each other’s drivers.

30

…as if!!!!

31

Every team on twitter saying the data is useful.

32

Can’t satisfy everyone all the time. And it seems silly to never be able to really test any alternatives during the season. Friday practice, they’re so busy trying to find a set-up while saving tires, how could you do what you can do at a 3-day dedicated test?

33

If you get nothing new and beneficial out of the test, then it’s a waste of time and money. But then again, it’s called a test and testing carries inherent risks, period. No risk no reward, it’just that simple. The teams participated hoping to learn. You can’t believe everything these team directors say. Much of their commentary is intention red herring material.

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