McLaren: Testing at new F1 tracks would send “wrong sign”

McLaren Formula 1 boss Andreas Seidl has welcomed the ban on testing at new Formula 1 venues, saying it would have sent the wrong sign.

McLaren: Testing at new F1 tracks would send “wrong sign”

The FIA sporting regulations allow teams to run 2018 cars without limitation, as long as the governing body is kept informed, and several had been planning to visit Portimao, Imola or Mugello before the newly-scheduled races there.

Prior to the start of the season and before the calendar additions were confirmed, Ferrari was able to run a 2018 car at its own Mugello venue, while AlphaTauri went to Imola, where it combined extensive 2018 running with a filming day with the current car.

In recent weeks, teams have been negotiating with the circuits for track availability, but that planning has now been stopped thanks to an initiative pushed through by F1 boss Ross Brawn, on the grounds of costs and the fact that the teams taking part would have gained a competitive advantage. 

The teams agreed at the recent Strategy Group and F1 Commission meetings that they would not visit the new tracks before the races there, and a rule change is being approved by the FIA World Motor Sport Council.

McLaren was not able to conducts tests at new venues before the start of the 2020 season because it didn’t have an older car available, available but Seidl conceded that the team might have been forced into finding a suitable machine.

“I’m very happy with this outcome,” said Seidl when asked by Motorsport.com. “And yes, not a secret that we were also pushing for that, because especially when you think about going to new tracks I think it puts you at a competitive disadvantage if other people can go testing.

"I think even we considered taking out one of our own cars and going there.”

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Seidl said the extra travel for personnel was another consideration.

“It would definitely have been absolutely the wrong sign also to the public and towards our people as well in the times of COVID, in the times of where we should avoid any unnecessary trouble for our people in order to protect them.

“I think it would have been completely the wrong sign also to do these tests. And therefore, I'm very happy with the outcome. And it was good to see that in the end, all teams agreed on this, which is not always the case.”

Mercedes ran a 2018 W09 at Silverstone to get its drivers back up to speed before the start of the season, but team boss Toto Wolff agreed the ban was a good move.

“We would have taken the 2018 car to some of the tracks,” he said when asked by Motorsport.com. “We were planning to go to Portimao, but I think that it’s not the right call. 

"I think we’re all looking at saving costs with the prize fund being considerably down, and in that respect, if nobody gains an advantage by not going testing, it’s the right thing to do.”

Mercedes ran a two-year old car for George Russell and Nicholas Latifi at the Algarve circuit in 2017, but Wolff played down the value of any knowledge gained.

“We went to Portimao quite a few times, but I don’t think you can extract any performance topics from a car that back then was two years old.”

Gunther Steiner, whose Haas team does not have a running 2018 car that it could call upon, also stressed the cost issue.

“I mean it’s the right thing to do, especially in the financial circumstances most of the teams are in,” he said. “We don’t need to exaggerate in the moment.”

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