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Lack of F1 testing “not ideal” says Pierre Gasly

Frenchman critical of three-day testing programme as F1 drivers call for more practice time

Published: 24 Feb 2023

Pierre Gasly says the limited three-day, pre-season F1 test in Bahrain - only half of which he’ll spend behind the wheel of Alpine’s new A523 - is “not ideal” preparation ahead of the first race of 2023 next week.

Yep, a racing driver who wants more testing. And he’s not alone either: two days ago Mercedes driver George Russell suggested that teams should be allowed to run two cars instead of one, an assessment Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso agreed with.

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But wait, don’t drivers usually hate this sort of thing? Max Verstappen completed 157 laps (almost three whole race distances) as he topped the timesheets yesterday, which (quite apart from being a bit repetitive) must be a shock for neck muscles that’ve been on holiday for three months.

When TG asked Gasly what would happen with no testing at all, the Frenchman laughed: “That could be an interesting thing to try! Some drivers would have their neck broken already before the season starts.

“But no, I agree with George. I saw the comments he made and that’s what I thought, especially reducing the testing with only three days, you end up only having one and a half days. Half of these days are for aero testing with rake [those funny aero devices that look like fences] so… as a driver you can’t really push.

“You don’t really learn about the car, and then you’ve got half a day for lower fuel running and then half a day for race preparation. But in terms of actual pushing laps before FP1, I’ll probably get 70 laps in a race car.

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A bit like training for a marathon by jogging to the post office and back, then? F1 of course has taken steps to limit pre-season testing over the years, as it’s a) very expensive, and b) more fun for fans when the teams aren’t fully prepared. But maybe running a car for each driver would be a good way of getting everyone up to speed without spending a fortune.

Gasly has more learning to do than most, don’t forget. Having moved from AlphaTauri to Alpine over the winter he now has to get used to an entirely new car, complex steering wheel, mechanics’ names, work email password…

“The cars look quite the same just with different colours from the outside, but from the inside it’s a massive change,” he explains. “So the more time I get to work with my engineer the more they know me, the more they know my driving style, the more they understand my feedback.

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“Now everything is so condensed. We need to learn about each other in one and a half days, which are quite limited. That’s why the winter was quite busy; work in the simulator and quite a bit of time in Enstone as well, just to try to reduce that adaptation time.”

What do you reckon, would you be on board with more pre-season testing? We won’t force you to watch it all, promise.

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