Even as teams debate the continual escalation in the cost of competing in F1, the prospect of an enlarged calendar divides them.
The reintroduction of in-season testing for 2014 – in addition to the enforced adoption of a new engine and drivetrain package – has raised hackles amongst those at the back of the grid, with Toro Rosso's Franz Tost particularly outspoken at what he sees as an unnecessary expense being foisted on the midfield and backmarker teams by those with more money to burn.
The alternative, Tost and others argue, would be to take the time allocated to testing and increase the calendar, producing an income-generating opportunity rather than a money drain.
“This is what I always
request,” the Austrian claimed, “I prefer to have more races where we gain money instead of spending money for nothing. I would prefer to maybe have two races more - or three or four races more, I don't care – instead of going testing for eight days where we go out to do some laps for nothing in the end, because reliability, as we can see, is no longer an issue.
“Ten, 15, 20 years ago we could say 'okay, we need to do some tests so that the cars become more reliable', but that's no longer the case. What we are doing now is creating a new test team, because the theory that the race team will do the tests on Tuesday and Wednesday [after grands prix] is absolutely wrong because they have to go home to prepare the cars for the next race. That means that, on Sunday, the test team will fly in, then we do the test on Tuesday, Wednesday, then they go back. It's not only testing, it means bringing new parts, because the development will be increased…”
Lotus' Eric Boullier shared a similar opinion, although he hastily revised his initial 'belief' that 'four [extra races] is not enough, ten more is better'.
“When I said ten more races, I know we face the same problem that, today, we have a team sized for 20 races,” he noted, “If we go one or two more races, I think we would struggle to do it but, if you had ten more, we would have to have a second team. This is why I said ten actually, because four races would be difficult, but it's better to race than test.”
While Williams deputy team principal Claire Williams suggested that testing could be made to pay if it was used for a young driver development programme, she admitted that additional personnel would be a requirement regardless.
Force India's Bob Fearnley, meanwhile, made the biggest point in opposition to racing over testing – one which would help teams contain expenditure.
“I think Eric's got a very good point there in terms of the amount of races, but the advantage you have of testing as opposed to having two or three races imposed on you is if you could make the choice of whether you wanted to go testing,” he concluded, “You don't have to do that, you do
have to do races!”