There could be a return to in-season testing for F1 teams in 2014, after it was confirmed that discussions had taken place with Bernie Ecclestone during the Monaco Grand Prix weekend.
Despite coinciding with the row over Mercedes' involvement in a three-day, 1000km test with Pirelli, the talks were more general in nature, with one eye on the added complications of introducing a new engine formula for 2014 and beyond. However, the controversial Barcelona test highlighted the need for suppliers to be able to test their own developments in a transparent manner, and the teams involved in the talks are thought to have agreed on an additional eight or nine days of running, possibly divided into four separate sessions during the course of the season, even though few concrete details were being confirmed in Friday's FIA press conference.
“I think that there was this discussion between six teams in Monte Carlo, because as you know, with nothing to hide, we were the ones that were promoting going back to [in-season] testing because we feel it's important,” Ferrari's Stefano Domenicali confirmed.
“We were discussing [how] we find the right balance between, let's say, the request [to test] from one side and the need to consider the issue that the small teams have always presented. I believe that what was agreed and discussed was a fair, sensible balanced approach. Now it's important that we go through and ratify [it] in the new regulations because that's now the key point for the future.
Mercedes' Ross Brawn, while welcoming the possible addition of extra testing opportunities, insisted that it was important that the needs of the suppliers, such as Pirelli, were also factored in to the final wording.
“There's been some discussions about testing for next year, which will certainly be beneficial for whoever the tyre supplier is in the future, but it's structuring that testing to make sure there is a good commitment to the tyre supplier, to get a proportion of that testing, and that is quite a difficult thing to do,” he admitted.
“If there's eight days or ten days of testing, how much of that is available to a tyre supplier, because they need testing, they need to feed off something. I think that's a point that needs addressing.”
Although only Sauber's Monisha Kaltenborn was present from F1's smaller teams, there was no objection to the prospect of additional testing, although the subject was once again linked to the overall cost of competing in the top flight.
“I think, even as a smaller team, we are not against testing because it does have a lot of benefits,” she conceded, “As such, it's nothing we're against but, for us, it's all linked with the cost. Our ideal would be if you try to link this to overall cost saving, so you find some other areas where you can bring the cost down, which again brings up discussions about a cost cap, that you can do anything within that. That's something we would be looking for but, as such, we wouldn't really be against testing.”
Reporting on the talks ahead of the Montreal weekend, however, Germany's Auto Motor und Sport suggested that the addition of extra test days during the season could bring would almost certainly bring greater spending back to the sport.
"With 19 or 20 races a year, and twelve days of testing before the season, an extra nine days of testing would require a test team," it quoted an unnamed source as saying, "Such a team costs €5-10m, no matter how much is saved elsewhere."