From the Archives, Geoff Collins looks into F1 Testing, what’s it all about and why it’s so worth going if you have the opportunity.
Looking through some old photos the other day, trying to find material for a Badger piece, I chanced upon some stuff from Jerez last year. Appropriate, obviously, as currently that’s the main topic of conversation amongst F1 fans: do testing times mean anything?
To start with, let’s look at a snap I took of a timing screen at the end of the first test we were at. It’s a rubbish shot, but much easier than jotting down the times or waiting for an official timing sheet. Looking at it now, what do we see? A Ferrari in first place and a Red Bull in third – clearly not where they finished in the championship, and, interestingly, not dissimilar to the final day of testing at Jerez this year. In both cases, there is a rookie back of the grid interloper splitting them (Perez last year, Vergne in 2012) – from 2011 race results it’s clear that we really shouldn’t read too much into this.
Down at our end of the grid, the focus was on reliability and systems. Each day I was desperate to hear over the radio that we were going out on the softer tyres with low fuel, but it just didn’t happen. Each team has it’s philosophy of how to gain as much information as possibile, and looking at the times, it’s quite probable that those philosophies haven’t changed.
It’s out on track where you get to see the cars cornering that you begin to get a fuller appreciation of what’s going on. Who has to lift mid-corner, who looks planted and so on. One of the downsides about working in the garage (yes, there are are downsides – but really, really tiny ones!) is that you don’t get to see the cars on track that much. But at Jerez, I went out briefly to took a look at the cars, and it’s quite obvious which cars are running well, and which aren’t. I was a bit disappointed about number 24, to be honest.
I took a couple of (rubbish) videos on the iPhone at turn 1, and I think these two videos show quite clearly the difference between front and the back of the grid.
Webber seems to be much more confident in the car, even though it’s obviously out of shape – something that will be dialled out with set-up. Timo, is struggling though, unable to really attack the corner due to lack of all-round grip.
I can’t recommend going to a test enough. My favourite used to be the pre-Monza tests, where there was always a great crowd, but you could still walk the entire circuit. Nowadays, Spain is pretty much your only option. There’s still time to get out to Barcelona for one of the next two tests, and Badger are looking to be present at both. If you’re lucky, you might even get close enough to the armco to take a video like this – but yours will be better quality though!