News and views on motorsports

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Secret Testing

This article on Pitpass suggests that a number of teams are currently engaged in covert development programmes in Elvington Park in Yorkshire, to the annoyance of the residents nearby the circuit. A follow up article is here.

Now back in the day, it was pretty common for Formula 1 teams to test on some way out circuit somewhere to shakedown the cars. Oulton Park and Snetterton for instance isn't well known to many outside the UK, but Formula 1 teams have used these facilities in the 80s for development.

But this Elvington Park is a bit of a mystery to me because I have to admit, I've never heard of it before. But then there are lots of circuits in the UK, befitting its title of the home of motor racing. Looking around on the internet, its a tiny little circuit with a grand total length of exactly 1 mile. That'll be 1.6 kilometers to the metrically inclined.

According to the Pitpass report, Jaguar (?), McLaren and Jordan were present for the tests. Also, according to their sources, McLaren will be returning this coming Thursday for more tests.

I say. What exactly is going on here? McLaren and Jaguar (Red Bull?) have been seen testing in Jerez and simultaneously they are also in this Elvington Park. And if it is true that McLaren will return on Thursday, then the Suzuka accords shall be broken as well.

Quite recently, Ralf Schumacher has been heard lambasting his brother's team for their extensive testing. Mike Gascoyne in this interview on PlanetF1 have said that Toyota have put off running in bad weather at Silverstone to save up on their 30 day limit. But here, we have three teams apparently throwing testing limits out the door. Now, Jordan and in particular, Red Bull aren't exactly the hottest supporters of the Group Of Nine and chances are they'll be going Bernie's way but what is McLaren doing in their company?

Perhaps, commercial pressures are beginning to show. After all, its all about winning. If Ferrari wins, you can bet that the vast majority don't know and even wouldn't care that they've essentially cheated. The television would simply show them winning. End of story. And perhaps big guns like Mercedes have had enough of being thrashed on telly by the likes of Maranello. So, can't beat em, join em.

Another interesting thing is that with Jordan running at Elvington, you can bet there would have been some Toyota engineers in attendance as well. Gaining some mileage for the works team perhaps?

This is sad in a way. Costs will skyrocket for sure. The top teams will extend their gap even further from the minnows behind. But more importantly, if McLaren are doing it, chances are Williams, Toyota and Renault will not be sitting still. Especially Toyota, since more than most they can afford a no holds barred testing programme. And you can bet if they do it, then Honda are coming along. Secret fuel tank and all.

No comments: