Formula 1 02 Aug 2005 10:56 am

Ferrari arrogance continues — testing during summer test ban

Regular readers of the this site’s caustic Formula 1 commentary will know that the Flying Nerd does not think highly of Ferrari’s arrogant practices, especially regarding testing.

For many years now, the Formula 1 teams have operated under a gentlemen’s agreement (the so-called Suzuka Agreement) which precludes teams from:

* testing (other than shakedown testing, limited to 50km) in the week leading up to a Grand Prix
* testing during the six week ‘summer test ban’.

The Suzuka agreement was put in place to contain costs (because it takes a separate test team, complete with cars and engineers, to test in the week leading up to a Grand Prix) and to give team members a break during the gruelling F1 season.

At the beginning of this season, demonstrating arrogance and what the Nerd believes to be ‘ungentlemanly conduct’, the Ferrari team repudiated the Suzuka agreement. Since the start of the season, Ferrari has consistently tested in the week leading up to a Grand Prix, and has now started testing during the summer test ban.

Ferrari justifies this behaviour on the basis that they are the only major team using Bridgestone tyres, so they need extra testing to develop the tyres to a competitive point.

To this, the Nerd says “Rubbish”, and observes as follows:

* There is a good reason why Ferrari is the only major team using Bridgestone tyres: the others have been driven away by the favouritism that Bridgestone has shown Ferrari over a period of years. It is well known that Bridgestone worked (and works) closely with Ferrari to manufacture tyres to suit the Ferrari racing car. Other teams using Bridgestone tyres did not enjoy this advantage, so they left. Ferrari and Bridgestone made their own bed, let them lie in it.
* Ferrari gets more money from FOM (Formula One Management) than any other team. Ferrari has more resources than any other team (including two private test tracks). Test bans of any form ‘disadvantage’ Ferrari in that they are unable to exploit their financial and resource advantages to the maximum: they need time (track time) to spend the money (to test the developments that the money allows). Test bans hurt Ferrari’s ability to spend their way to the front of the pack. So they won’t join in the ban.

It’s telling to note that the nine other F1 teams (apart from Ferrari) agreed at the start of 2005 that they would restrict in-season testing to just 30 days. There is no F1 rule that restricts testing to 30 days, just a gentlemen’s agreement based on the need to contain costs. Ferrari has refused to be party to this agreement as well.

In the opinion of the Flying Nerd, Ferrari’s actions demonstrate as follows:

* Ferrari has an arrogant, win-at-all-costs attitude.
* Ferrari shows no concern for the sporting element of F1, or ‘the good of the sport’.
* Ferrari takes F1 fans for granted, seeming to believe that F1 exists solely to bring benefit to Ferrari.

These are dangerous attitudes. They wil drive fans and manufacturers away from a series in which Ferrari competes. Ferrari is in danger of finding itself in a position of totally dominance over a series called Formula 1, but with no one to compete against: all the others will have left to take part in another series with ‘a level playing field’.

The Flying Nerd finds it odd that ‘the Michelin teams’ were charged with ‘bringing the sport into disrepute’ following the USA GP fiasco (see earlier comments). In the opinion of this Nerd, the actions of the Ferrari team bring the sport of Formula 1 into disrepute. Where are the charges?

Your comments are invited.

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