Aston Martin driver Fernando Alonso criticizes the organization of the test drives: Why only three days of testing in Bahrain and why only one car per team?
Since 2021, Formula 1 has only completed three days of testing before the start of a new season, which have always taken place in Bahrain. According to Aston Martin driver Fernando Alonso, this is too little for a sport like Formula 1, as the two drivers of a team have to split up, meaning that each driver has a program of just one and a half test days or twelve hours
“That doesn’t affect me in the slightest when it comes to preparing well enough for the season,” said Alonso on the sidelines of the launch of the new AMR24 when asked about the brevity of the test, but: “We have a very limited test in Bahrain. I’ve been thinking about it all winter and I think it’s unfair that we only have a day and a half to prepare for a world championship.”
“There is no other sport in the world, with all the money involved and with all the marketing and the good things we say about Formula 1 and the closeness to the fans … I can’t understand why we don’t go to Bahrain for four days, which would mean two full days for each driver. Three is an odd number, you can’t divide it up between the drivers,” criticized Alonso.
Alonso: Why don’t we race with two cars?
The teams have taken different approaches to this problem in recent years. While some drivers split up into all three test days for four hours each, other teams opt to give both drivers a full day of eight hours each and only split one.
With the odd number of three, however, it is not possible for both drivers of a team to have the same conditions in terms of track conditions, because in Bahrain the temperatures of the surroundings and the asphalt in the afternoon session are much more representative of the race weekend. Inevitably, one driver will have the advantage of two afternoon sessions.
According to Alonso, however, there is a simple solution to this problem: “I also don’t know why we don’t race with two cars?” he wonders. “Because we are already in Bahrain anyway to race the following week. But that’s a different issue. And because it’s so limited, I can’t think too much about the future at the moment. “
The times from the 90s and early 2000s, when Formula 1 teams were able to complete intensive test programs without any limits, are particularly memorable. This even went so far that Michael Schumacher and Ferrari used the rest day on Friday during the Monaco weekend – which at that time still took place from Thursday to Sunday – to test on Ferrari’s own track in Fiorano in order to prepare perfectly for the rest of the weekend in the Principality.
However, the times have changed with the explosion in the cost of running the cars, as they do not want the financially strong top teams to be able to buy an advantage over the smaller teams. The sustainability factor is also playing a greater role. However, there have also been more extensive test drives in the recent past.
In 2019, there were a total of eight test days over two weeks in Barcelona before the new Formula 1 season, which was reduced to six for 2020 and finally to three for 2021. However, as the racing calendar is becoming increasingly full and the season has to start earlier and earlier as a result, it is almost no longer possible to afford to set aside two weeks for testing.
As in previous years, the 2024 pre-season tests will take place in Bahrain. From February 21 to 23, the teams will have the opportunity to put their new cars through their paces before the first race weekend of the season takes place a week later from February 29 to March 2, also in Sachir.