At a time the sport is seeking to spice up the action while reducing spending, it seems hard to believe that just a few short years ago money was no object, teams running designated test units as they tried out a seemingly endless supply of new tyres and engines.
Indeed, at a time we remember the legendary Michael Schumacher, it is worth recalling that his title hopes were bolstered by the ability to bolt on a set of Bridgestones and rip around Fiorano for a hundred or so laps at the drop of a hat.
At one stage tests were held at tracks just a few days before the race, which naturally impacted the Sunday afternoon entertainment since the teams were so well prepared, Barcelona usually providing the biggest snooze-fest of the year.
With all this in mind, Ross Brawn is said to be considering banning teams from tyre testing during the Friday sessions and instead introducing a standard ‘base’ tyre with which to perform the initial set-up.
“The cars are completely reliable and they’re completely optimised in terms of set-up, deployment around tyres or whatever,” Williams technical boss Paddy Lowe tells Motorsport.com. “That means that the results you get are massively more predictable, to the point the major variable is the driver and mistakes he might make.
“But even there, drivers nowadays are completely fit,” he adds, “so they don’t even get tired like they used to, and they are well trained, coached. They don’t make many mistakes. We need to throw stuff in, that stops the optimisation.
“Ross has talked about this, that you can’t test any tyres on Friday, you have just a base tyre that’s just to let you work with the car and learn the circuit. A few things like that. Then everything is thrown in as a lucky dip for you for the race. I think it’s great.”
Admitting that thirty years ago “we came to the race with two engineers, now we have thirty- and another thirty back at the factory”, he adds: “If you want to make it more valuable, you’ve got to prevent the optimization and allow for effectively more disturbance, more noise, which will come from external factors, that we couldn’t optimise around.
“It will be good,” he insists. “Because the other alternative is you get rid of the engineers by cost cap or reduce the operational staff level at the track. I am not trying to just make a lot of engineers redundant, they can do other things. I think Ross has realised (that optimisation is causing predictable races), that’s his own observation, and he has a project around that.”