F1 Testing: Testing Our Patience

The 2018 Formula One season has begun, sort of. Last week in Barcelona was certainly testing. Testing our interest, our nerves and just how much we realize the manufacturers and the FIA really control what once was a beautiful and specialized art. It’s stunning that a sport that spends this much money could not reschedule another few days to make up for lost information. That would be too sensible.

Other than this, we did learn a few things that could be construed as valuable for those trying to gaze through the crystal ball. Namely: Mercedes is still the team to beat, Ferrari will be a challenger and that McLaren, Red Bull and Renault will battle for third place. Full stop.

The weather was so bad that very little could be gained by the teams being present with the exception of part of one day. What good is it to shake down new cars in the freezing rain and snow? No good whatsoever other than to make sure the cars actually make it around a racing track.

Did Formula One have any interest in giving the ‘Lost Day’ back to the teams to at least have the appearance of being fair? Hell no. Why start being fair now? As it is, the FIA has restricted the cars to running three engines per season and then have that same FIA complain that the sport is too expensive in no small part due to the engine builders trying to make their power plants more reliable. Seriously?

I actually applaud Renault for stating emphatically that they would run their engines for the first few races chasing reliability rather than start popping engines from the first green light. I think we’re all sick of seeing the engine penalty’s having teams start the race in Oom Baba MauMau. 30 place grid penalties?

It’s obvious the manufacturers, along with the FIA, have no interest in the sport for the sake of being a sport, but rather to produce technology that will benefit their corporate masters. Liberty Media has potentially made a serious mistake in purchasing Formula One. What’s next? Cirque de Soleil on the grid? Teeming herds of antelope jumping through the paddock?

When Ferrari and Red Bull dominated during the 2000 era and into the early teens, the one saving grace to the whole show was the screaming v-10’s and v-8’s, but no more. Mercedes has now taken over as the halo team, with a muffled sound, and isn’t likely to relinquish it until the engine formula changes. On the other hand perhaps Ferrari will interrupt their march to the sea for one or two years.

Lewis Hamilton made it look incredibly easy to end the frost fest on top. Don’t be fooled by how close McLarens time was, the conditions were totally different on different tires and different days. I could be wrong, but I don’t think I am.

Should the weather cooperate this week, the teams will have four more days to decide what bits they’ll adorn at the Australian party. Even then we won’t really know who has what until mid-season. The Mercedes-Ferrari duel of 2017 proved that.

I don’t know how far out In left field I am, but I would much rather see the early part of the pre-season stacked with testing and let the cars evolve through the year rather than have an abbreviated 8 days before racing and then another 4 days in mid-season. The costs would be the same.

Why does it not make more sense to give the teams a total of 16 days of testing before the season begins, broken into blocks of four days, of course, rather than make the first half of the season a test bed? Let’s face it, for all intents and purposes that’s what it is.

However, it’s still my motor racing sport of choice, unless IndyCar can show me something this season. That’s the next rant.

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