It’s very easy to read between the lines in Formula One. In an age where the finest of margins can cause uproar and grey hair, it’s easy to ignore the bigger picture. With this frame of mind, what can we learn from this year’s (not so) Young Drivers Test?
On-track and straight to the point, it was the Red Bull empire that stormed the combined timesheets, with a melee of Toro Rosso and Red Bull Racing drivers locking out the top four. Daniel Ricciardo defied reality and starred twice in that list, having turned out for both Toro Rosso and for an audition with Red Bull. That said, we’re not sure sticking an RB7 in the gravel 7 laps in was particularly wise, Daniel.
Over 15,000 fans attended the 3 day test at Silverstone. With general admission tickets selling from between £15-20 and pitwalk tickets for a mere tenner, this year’s Young Drivers Test can surely be deemed a commercial success.
Now, Mr.Jean Todt and co, may we take this on board and learn? With in-season testing scoffed at because of costs, is revenue through ticket sales the way forward? Sure, the costs for teams and running such an event outweigh such sales, but it’s a popular option of numbing the financial pinch, undoubtedly.
In wades the ugly F1 2013 word of the year – tyres. Pirelli received the sporting equivalent of a slapped bum after the British GP, with fingers pointing firmly in their direction due to the puncture fiasco.
In contrary, the feedback after last week’s test appears to be positive, with the likes of Felipe Massa and Christian Horner claiming the reconstructed Pirelli boots are an improvement on their predecessors. All of this begs the question; why weren’t Pirelli allowed to test with 2013-spec cars in the first place?
It boils down to a fundamental flaw in F1 safety, in a sport running to such narrow parameters and safety risks. Do not be surprised to see one extreme jump to the other, as Pirelli will now surely receive greater access to tyre-testing in seasons to come.
Speaking of access, the Silverstone test was one where the word ‘access’ ruled supreme. First off, the opportunity for drivers currently outside the premier class to sample the pinnacle of motorsport was fascinating for fans and teams alike. Allowing the likes of James Calado, Susie Wolff, Nicolas Prost and Carlos Sainz Jr a shot in an F1 cockpit is paramount for the future of the sport, in terms of both safety and accessibility.
For fans too, the chance to get a little closer to the action outside of a race weekend was an absolute joy. Freedom to roam, the chance to walk an F1 pitlane, and the massively reduced cost compared to a race weekend was tremendous. It’s such experiences and access that will bring more fans to a sport that more often than not neglects it’s audience.
So more of the same please F.I.A, bring Formula One to the fans and the fans will flock to Formula One. The 2013 Young Drivers test was a ‘win win’ situation for all concerned, and must be learnt from for the sake of teams, tyres, drivers and fans alike.