JANUARY 6, 1997

Testing gets tough

THE FIA's new testing regulations will make life very difficult for Formula 1 teams.

THE FIA's new testing regulations will make life very difficult for Formula 1 teams. In an effort to avoid the possibility of accidents with high speed differential between cars, F1 tests can now only take place on a track where no other cars are running and no driver without an F1 Superlicence is allowed to be out in an F1 car at the same time as any Superlicence holders.

Tracks must be cleared for use by FIA safety inspectors and any alterations to the circuits render them immediately invalid until there is a new FIA inspection.

Before testing can begin an FIA inspector must be present and he must remain at the track for the duration of the test. Teams are henceforth required to inform the FIA of their schedules a month in advance so that arrangements can be made to have inspectors present.

The inspectors will have the power to stop the testing if he considers that it is necessary to do so. The FIA has no power to insist on the safety measures used when testing takes place at tracks but it has issued a list of recommendations which it advises teams to agree with the venues.

The FIA regulations seem to be designed to force teams to take part in a number of large tests rather than lots of smaller ones at different circuits, creating mini-Grands Prix which, no doubt, will be televised and to which spectators will probably be admitted.

The FIA has not explained how it will stop teams which deliberately set out to circumnavigate the regulations from testing in remote tracks where they are unlikely to be spotted. This will be difficult in Europe - although there are a number of private test tracks (some behind walls) which cannot be easily policed. Teams may also decide that they can test parts using Formula 3000 cars and run these instead.