Test drivers in the spotlight says Stoddart

Test drivers in the spotlight says Stoddart

Minardi boss Paul Stoddart thinks the new Friday test session on race weekends will give test drivers the chance of a lifetime to prove their talents. Testers usually do their hard work behind the scenes and some of them are not familiar names...

Minardi boss Paul Stoddart thinks the new Friday test session on race weekends will give test drivers the chance of a lifetime to prove their talents. Testers usually do their hard work behind the scenes and some of them are not familiar names even in the pit-lane, never mind to the public. But for teams that have opted for the Friday session, the test drivers will now have a great deal more exposure.

"For a test driver it's the opportunity of a lifetime," Stoddart told ITV-F1. "It's a big difference to usual testing where the drivers go out and they pound around for hour after hour in the middle of nowhere, and nobody really take much notice. If they put in a quick time people can say well the car had the latest bits, or the conditions were different or whatever else. Now we're talking about a whole different outlook."

Paul Stoddart.
Photo by Brousseau Photo.
"They're going to be out there with the best of the best with all the world's media watching and the spotlight upon them. For them it will be make or break time. They can make their career and they will be in front of the people that matter, people from other teams will see them and even if they don't see them they will notice the timesheets. It's a big opportunity."

Minardi has Sergey Zlobin and Matteo Bobbi as testers in 2003 but also plans to give other drivers a chance to be at Grand Prix weekends. The rest of the allocated testing days in the agreement, nominally ten, Stoddart is hoping to have perhaps up to four cars in action.

"What we are aiming to do is to have a full-time test and reserve driver and one, two, or even as many as three other test drivers who throughout the year will have the opportunity to do one or more grands prix," he explained. "As well as this they will do our other testing when we've got our ten days of testing away from the track. Actually, it's 13 days because we get the Monza test as well, which everyone gets. So in those 13 days of testing we'll be running multiple cars, possibly four cars, to make the most of those days."

This plan sounds an ambitious one after the very small amount of testing Minardi put in last year compared to other teams. However, the restricted test day plan gives the team opportunity to focus its energies, rather than worry about how many test sessions it could afford to go to. Stoddart is confident the finances are available to get Minardi through this season: "The team at the moment has enough budget to compete in and complete the year. Having said that, if anyone out there wants to sponsor us and give us some money, then we'll put it to good use!"

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Matteo Bobbi , Paul Stoddart , Sergey Zlobin
Teams Minardi