We’ve come to the conclusion over the last eight days, that we think a lot of the F1 teams have got their approach to testing wrong. We’re all worried about the McLaren Honda and how it will perform in a few week’s time in Australia.
But what if they aced testing. What if they did exactly what they were meant to do and actually tested every component to find it’s breaking point?
We know that Ferrari did a run dry test and managed to get back to the pits still running and with more fuel than they thought. Red Bull did one too and Max stopped out on track two laps shy of where they thought they would be. So we know that teams are testing to find the limits.
Mercedes managed to find that their car can do 1000 laps in eight days. That’s a lot of aero data they can gleam from hours on the track, but have they found any fatigue points or any surprising anomalies among their short list of failures?
Red Bull, McLaren, Force India and Haas all had some major failures. Some were hyped up and pushed in the press a lot more. Who would have thought that McLaren’s testing woes would have made Radio 1’s news. The important thing here is that it is only testing.
Ask any engineer, software or mechanical, and the point of testing is to find the weak spots. To find at what point does a process or a material break. Testing is meant to be messy. By it’s very nature, it is meant to break things and show weaknesses. Testing is not meant to be smooth sailing where everything runs perfectly.
There’s an African saying “Smooth seas do not make skilful sailors”.
You can’t learn much by getting things right all the time, to learn you need to go wrong. It is a shame that testing is so public now that we all get to see the failures, but it is brilliant that we, as fans, get this extra insight into what makes our season.
There’s a huge amount of disappointment floating around on twitter about how the McLaren team have tested this year. Surely we should be looking to praise them for utilising testing to the max. Hopefully, they have found every failure they can and have work to do. It’s what testing is for, so well done McLaren.
On a different note:
If you want to see what the real difference between last year’s cars and this, then this video from F1.com shows you Lewis’ pole lap from the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix, which was held nearly half-way through the season, against Kimi’s fastest lap from testing. There isn’t one moment where there appears to be a second difference, but a lot of small moments which all quickly mount up by the end of the lap.
Worryingly, it reminds us of trying to beat the ghost car in Renault’s driving challenge. The hours of not knowing how the ghost was getting speed out of the corner, when we felt like we were racing he same line.