The ban on in-season testing and lack of a third car during Friday practice on grand prix weekends has severely reduced the opportunities for aspiring young Formula 1 drivers to show team bosses their mettle, Anthony Davidson has argued.
During his days spent testing for BAR-Honda and Honda from 2001 to 2006, the 29-year-old was a regular feature at the top of the Friday timesheets, and it was just such impressive performances that finally earned him his full-time racing bow in the top flight with Super Aguri in 2007.
With third cars having been outlawed from running on the opening day of the weekend since the end of 2006, however, and all general testing now also banned from the Australian Grand Prix in March until after the close of the campaign seven months later, Davidson argues that testing is no longer anywhere near as valuable to young drivers as it used to be – and called for the sport to re-introduce the rule enabling teams to field a third car on F1 Fridays.
Aside from the Hemel Hempstead-born ace, new grand prix winners Robert Kubica and Sebastian Vettel both made their names in the uppermost echelon and secured their spots on the grid by dint of catching the eye on the weekend's opening day.
“These days it's not a very good job,” Davidson – who earlier this week revealed that he had been in 'serious' talks with Honda about trying to revive his F1 career in 2009, following the collapse of Super Aguri last year [see separate story – click here
] – told German-language website adrivo.com
. “It is not what it once was because everything has been cut back so much.
“We used to test for four days with three cars in Barcelona or even in Bahrain. They were fantastic times for test drivers.
“The Friday tests were also very good for us, and it is really unfortunate that those opportunities for test drivers are no longer there. Drivers like myself, Sebastian Vettel and Robert Kubica had the chance to show in the Friday tests what we could do in a Formula 1 car under pressure.
“We did a good job and all become proper race drivers. Whoever didn't prove themselves on the Fridays did not get race cockpits. It therefore functioned very well.
“It's bad enough that this opportunity is gone, and now all the other tests during the season have gone as well.”
Acknowledging that he is now unlikely to get an F1 racing or testing role for 2009 at this late stage, the former McLaren/Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year
revealed that he is hoping to land a drive in the legendary Le Mans 24 Hours in June. His name has been linked with Peugeot for what would be his second assault on the gruelling French round-the-clock sportscar classic, having initially competed at La Sarthe in a Veloqx Prodrive Racing-run Ferrari 550-GTS Maranello six years ago.