Next season will be the busiest on record for the F1 teams; a 21 race calendar is taking shape for 2014 while on Saturday in Montreal the Sporting Working Group approved a package of test days and aerodynamic reductions which are set to save money, while bringing back four test sessions.
The package agreed by the SWC will now be put forward to the FIA World Motor Sport Council taking place on 28 June at Goodwood House, England.
The package envisages the end of the Young Drivers test session, a reduction in straight line aerodynamic test days from eight to two, while promotional days are also cut to two. Wind tunnel time in team factories is also cut from 40 to 30 hours per week.
In their place, the F1 teams will remain in place for a two day test with one car after four European Grands Prix. Barcelona and Silverstone will be two of the venues. Eight of the 11 teams voted for the new measures which meant that it had the majority required to pass.
Ostensibly keen on the move are the less well funded teams as it allows them to run drivers who bring budget. Typically an F1 team can charge around €300,000 for a test like this. However they will need another engine above the allocation in their supply contracts to do the tests and this will cost an additional €1 million.
There is concern among some of the less well funded teams that this package is part of the ongoing agenda of some of the more powerful figures and teams to move the midfield and backmarkers towards customer car teams.
Many will complain about the loss of the Young Drivers Test, but in practice young drivers are likely to carry out quite a lot of the testing planned anyway, partly for budget reasons and partly because the teams will not require the race drivers to do another two days having just completed a Grand Prix weekend, unless the team has some technical problems to work through.
This package of measures has been there on the table to be done for some time and this was the third time recently where the teams held a vote; previously the vote did not pass because the package wasn’t right, but it seems that in the last two weeks the teams have got together and made it happen this time.
Perhaps the controversial Mercedes Pirelli test in Barcelona last month – which is now the subject of an International Tribunal hearing likely to take place on June 20th – acted as a catalyst for this; four two day tests is more than sufficient for Pirelli to develop tyres and to work on any issues. The teams realised how dysfunctional the Mercedes test episode made the sport look and have come together with a common sense response. However the fact that three teams voted against it, shows that they are not all on the same page.
Meanwhile a 21 race calendar for 2014 is being discussed. This will feature the race in New Jersey and the new race in Russia and the Olympic park in Sochi.
However paddock sources suggest that this may drop to 20 as there continue to be doubts about the viability of the Korean Grand Prix, which is losing a lot of money.
The calendar is set to start in Bahrain in early March, following on from a warm weather pre-season test there and the other winter tests are set to start earlier in the year, so that teams and engine manufacturers will have time to work on any glitches with the all new, hybrid turbo engines.
With this season ending in late November and new car testing likely to start in January, this will be the shortest off-season in recent F1 history, reflecting the scale of change the 2014 regulations represents.