Mugello test was waste of money, claim teams
12 May 2012
Despite the clamour for more testing to be allowed during the F1 season, two leading technical figures have admitted that all the recent Mugello session achieved was a drain on resources for the eleven teams that attended.
While backmarker HRT opted to use the time to move in to its new Madrid headquarters, its rivals felt obliged to make the three-day test - the first in-season test since 2008 - in order to keep up with the development of their cars, afraid that the opposition may gain an advantage. Adrian Newey and Sam Michael, however, admitted that the test had been of little relative value when the same work could have been carried out, for less, back at their respective bases in Milton Keynes and Woking.
"I think you could do without it," Michael claimed, "From our point of view, it was interesting because we used it to get correlation. All of our testing is to do with correlation now - it's not to dial in the last little bit of the set-up - and by running our two test drivers there, we got a straight back-to-back with the guys that do the majority of the running in our simulator.
"That's quite important for us to verify all of our models, [but] I think the test itself, personally, you could do without it. I think it's a lot of energy and expense during the season that we probably don't need. McLaren will gain a lot out of that test, but F1 is all relative, so all we really did was spend a load of money. And did we really shift relative to Red Bull or Ferrari or Mercedes and the people who we're competing against? I don't think so."
Newey agreed, insisting that Red Bull, which ran both its race drivers at Mugello, went to the test 'because it was available', but would have preferred not to have had the option.
"We didn't learn anything, relatively speaking," he added, "I think Sam's point is valid. We all spent money, but the value of in-season testing has to be questionable. We've all learnt how to use Friday [practice] more effectively as test sessions, so the value of in-season testing has depleted because of that. I think we learnt the pasta in Italy is still the best in the world and that's about it."
The loss of in-season testing as part of F1's great cost-cutting programme was lamented by those teams needing to bring in drivers not familiar with F1 machinery - Jaime Alguersuari remains the obvious example - and, while the likes of Red Bull and McLaren are seldom in that position, teams at the other end of the grid, without the same technology, budget or drivers at their disposal, admit that Mugello fulfilled a purpose.
"Things are extremely profitable when they are the same all the time," Toro Rosso's Giorgio Ascanelli admitted, "A team evolves itself to adapt to the conditions of operation which are offered. If you change something, you need a different operation. I think that's what these two gentlemen have tried to say. They are both structured team with a lot of infrastructure [but], for us, it's a blessing to be able to drive – because we don't have the infrastructure.
"Although I agree with Adrian, [in that] the most expensive way to make experience is going around a circuit. If you don't, and you have a simulator and a good tunnel, you make a good profit. If you haven't got a simulator and haven't got a good tunnel, then you need some running to certify what you do."
With debate raging over whether to stage this year's 'young driver' test at Silverstone after the British GP or in Abu Dhabi as in the past couple of years, Newey admitted that even a test later in the season would not be of huge value to him.
"I guess if you wanted to use it as research for the following year's car, possibly, but I think the fact is F1, budget-wise, is... things are tight for a lot of teams and the most expensive thing to do is run the car," he repeated, "That's far more expensive than wind tunnel testing or CFD or simulators and whatever else you might like to name. If one of the major things is to save costs, then I think in-season testing would be one of the relatively low-hanging fruit."