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Extended practice could 'hurt smaller teams'

Martin Whitmarsh warns that extending first free practice may not have the desired impact on smaller teams in F1
McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh has warned that smaller teams in F1 could lose out by plans to extend the length of the opening practice session of Grand Prix weekends from next season.

Plans have been put in place to extend the session by half an hour to two hours, with teams then able to bring in a younger driver for part of the session if they wish while also still being able to give track time to their race drivers.

However, Whitmarsh said that his team wouldn't be keen to run younger drivers in the sessions and said the change could make it harder for some of the smaller teams that have previously generated income from allowing drivers to run in FP1 in recent seasons.

The likes of Marussia and Caterham have both allowed test drivers to run in first practice in place of their race drivers at a number of events.

"I think from McLaren's perspective it's not something that we'd necessarily want to do," he told ESPN. "I can understand the view of some - which is that it's very difficult for young drivers, there's very little testing and it's a way of encouraging them - but oddly I think it will work against the smaller teams because at the moment they have a unique opportunity to sell FP1; many do and it's a surprisingly important revenue for some of those teams.

"If every team has that opportunity then the value of what some of those smaller teams are able to sell is reduced. So oddly I think it would probably work against them. I think that you'd probably end up if it was forced - because none of the big teams would do it unless the regulations actually prescribed and required you to have a young driver or whatever the definition - frankly from our perspective you'd go to work thinking how can you use that half an hour to do aerodynamic testing.

"We would ultimately not do effectively performance testing in terms of lap time, set-up, we'd be doing a whole range of component changes and just data logging on the straights I expect. So it probably wouldn't have the desired effect, although you'd have to look at the precise detail of what they define. As is often the case, quick ideas in Formula One have unintended consequences and the teams figure it out for themselves how to exploit it to their best advantage, not necessarily aligned with the original intention of such an idea, so I think you'd have to think about it carefully."

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September 26, 2013 10:49 PM

Firestorm, Something that I've noticed recently is the lack of real talent coming into F1, that might be down to pay drivers or it might be down to lack of testing. Of the 9 current drivers who have won a race 5 of them are World Champions, Webber is about to retire, Massa might not get another drive, Maldonado's win was a one off and that leaves Rosberg as possibly the only non champion race winner next season. It all seems a bit top heavy with no real talent coming through and that's a worry. The last real emerging talent was Vettel and Hamilton and before that it was Button, Kimi and Alonso there has been very little since.

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