Pre-season F1 testing was reduced from six to three days for 2021, with just three test days in Bahrain instead of two three-day tests in Barcelona.
For 2022, winter testing expanded to six days again, a one-off concession so teams could get more time to trial their brand-new machinery following a major rule change.
But this year the number of days has been limited to three once again, with testing taking place from Thursday to Saturday this week in Bahrain, the venue of the 2023 season opener.
That means each driver will only get one and a half days to get up to speed with the new cars, a figure which Mercedes driver and GPDA chairman Russell thinks is insufficient.
“Personally speaking, I don’t think three days is enough, because you have got to remember from a driver’s perspective, that is one and a half days per driver.
“We were fortunate to do the [Silverstone filming days] last week, but had we not, that would have been getting on for 12 weeks out of the car from Abu Dhabi to Bahrain.
“Could you imagine Rafael Nadal spending 12 weeks without hitting a ball and then going straight into the French Open with one and a half days of training? You know, it just wouldn’t ever happen.”
George Russell, Mercedes W14
Photo by: Mercedes AMG
Testing was reducing to save money and reduce the workload on teams, but Russell suggested teams could start testing with two cars so that both drivers could get three days under their belt, while still sticking to a single-test event.
“I understand and recognise why we do that. I think three days with two cars would probably be a good place to be,” he argued. “And I think that would probably be the best compromise for all of the reasons why we’re trying to limit it but right now one and a half days per driver I think is too few.”
Fernando Alonso, who has traded Alpine for Aston Martin, agreed with Russell and claimed the lack of testing could set him and other drivers changing teams back compared to their team-mates.
“This year we have only one day and a half testing in Bahrain, so I am aware that I will not be 100% in Bahrain, not in Jeddah, maybe not in Australia. So that’s a little bit unfair, maybe,” Alonso said.
“I think that is the only sport in the world that you do one day and a half a practice and then you play a world championship. There is no other sport in the world [that does that].”
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