In December last year, the Renault F1 Team took a big risk: choosing to limit their private testing in return for an extra two hours' running on a Friday morning. Not only has the decision proved beneficial at the race weekend, it has brought ...
In December last year, the Renault F1 Team took a big risk: choosing to limit their private testing in return for an extra two hours' running on a Friday morning. Not only has the decision proved beneficial at the race weekend, it has brought unexpected benefits with private testing.
This week at Monza will see one of the most intensive periods of private testing in the history of Formula 1. The Renault F1 Team will run two cars, with race drivers Fernando Alonso and Jarno Trulli at the wheel. However, the stakes will be even higher because for Renault, this test will represent four 'car' days: one fifth of the team's allocation for the season. Surely the limitation has hurt the team's performance?
"Whenever regulations are changed, or something is altered to limit what you are allowed to do, we set to work trying to maximise the time we have at our disposal," explains Technical Director Mike Gascoyne. "This year, our testing operation has become much more efficient. Not only have we been running three cars on a Friday morning at the races, with excellent results, but we have also taken a long look at our whole methodology for private testing as well."
Surely, though, there has been some trade-off: fewer testing days must mean fewer miles covered, and thus less development time? "The interesting thing is that we have actually covered more test miles than we had by this time last year," continues Mike. "The fact we have managed to do that in many fewer days, and at reduced cost, has freed up resources in other areas. Thus we have invested that money in the wind tunnel, or new parts for the car. Overall, we have become a much more efficient operation."
Indeed, it was predicted that by mid-summer, the limited testing would begin to penalise teams who had opted for the Heathrow Agreement. "I think the opposite has occurred," concludes Mike. "We have raised our game this season. There is no better reflection of that than the past few races, where we have made steady improvements culminating in the win at Budapest. To make steps like that during a season, you need to be improving quicker than the competition. That is perhaps the best reflection of the gains in efficiency we have made."
For the Renault F1 Team, testing begins on Wednesday, 3 September evaluating the special low-downforce aerodynamic package for Monza.