Private tests in F1: pros and cons according to Fred Vasseur
With a budget cap and tests throughout the Formula One season minimized, given that only filming days are available, turning around a championship is quite complicated for F1 teams when the project doesn’t prove to be winning from the start. The spending cap prevents teams from excessive updates, and it’s also challenging to create components that work 100% reliably since it’s impossible to thoroughly test them before taking them on the track.
Ferrari’s team principal, Frederic Vasseur, addressed this issue during the Christmas lunch in Maranello, emphasizing that private tests would be crucial to potentially catch up with other teams. However, he also pointed out that the budget cap poses a significant obstacle, even if testing during the season were allowed: “If we stick with the current budget cap, reintroducing private tests would be very difficult because they have enormous costs. If you start testing, you have to produce twice as many engines. In just one test day, you accumulate the mileage of a race weekend. Doing 20 test days is equivalent to an entire season in terms of components.”
“It must be admitted, however, that this season we have seen that without tests, it’s difficult to catch up when the correlation between simulation, wind tunnel, and track is not perfect in some areas,” Fred Vasseur added. “An example is porpoising; no one predicted it two years ago. The first time I came to Fiorano with Sauber, I called Mekies to ask if Fiorano was more bumpy than in the past because the car was jumping like a kangaroo. In some aspects, it’s difficult to find correlation, and in that case, it’s difficult to catch up. This year we sacrificed free practices in Zandvoort to conduct tests. It was probably one of the reasons why we managed to recover a bit: we understood the car better, and from the following week, the performance improved. However, with the Cost Cap, it’s impossible to reintroduce private tests. We could discuss one or two sessions, but let’s not forget that there are also Pirelli tests in parallel. The calendar is not only made up of races.” – the French manager pointed our during his interview for the Italian media.