After reading through the comments section of an article on the Sky Sports F1 website, it got me thinking. Should in season testing be increased? The comment I read suggested that in season testing should return because it would help smaller teams in the following way:
Lower placed teams, like Caterham/Marussia/HRT (and I suppose it could be applied to slightly higher placed teams such as Williams/FI ) could sign two race drivers, and a reserve/test driver or two. So for example, FI could sign Sutil and Bianchi as their two race drivers, and sign Di Resta and Senna as reserve/test drivers. The purpose of this would be the need for drivers bringing personal sponsorship could be spread across two or three drivers, making it easier for drivers to get a seat, and for those who don't get a seat, they get given the chance to at least still be driving, as opposed to D'Ambrosio turning up to Grand Prixs but having not raced in months, or Bottas taking a crucial FP session away from one of the race drivers. Overall then, this prevents fresh talent being parachuted into a race seat and struggling, and teams always plumping for a 'pay' driver.
So what about the big teams, the Red Bulls and the McLarens? The gap between the midfield and the front runners gets bigger and bigger as a result? Not necessarily. In the case of 2011, Ferrari could have updated their car, thereby allowing the chance for Alonso a better chance at fighting for the title, and a much more exciting season as a result. In the case of 2012, Lotus or Williams could have focussed on important areas of development and brought themselves into contention for more victories later on, mixing it up with the title contenders.
Wouldn't this all be too expensive though, when just this week HRT have folded, Benetton/Renault/Lotus keeping changing their name as a result of ever changing investors, and the FIA and the teams agree costs need to be cut? Again, not a given. The money that would be spent on testing is spent on aero/CFD/windtunnel development anyway, and it would partly pay for itself thanks to the reserve/test driver idea. This would stop teams like Ferrari wasting months going down the wrong direction on windtunnel development, not to mention the money that all resulted in ultimately nothing, and as mentioned, drivers would be better prepared and developed before entering. Part of the reason Hamilton was so impressive in his debut year was because he had done so many miles before he hit the track, and so consequently was instantly on the pace, and generated a huge amount of interest in the sport, which could only be a good thing.
So what do you guys think? Obviously it would need some refining, but does it have any merit?