FEBRUARY 7, 2008

The start of a new trend?

There are reports that Williams is to establish a permanent base for its test team in Spain, not far from the Valencia circuit. Spanish newspapers are reporting that the team is in negotiation with the regional government for a suitable facility and will give young Spanish drivers the opportunity to test its cars as part of the agreement. The first Spanish youngster said to be in line for a run is Formula 3 driver Dani Clos.

The plan is to save money by having a team permanently based in Spain, which will save both time and money as much of the F1 testing these days is done in Spain and it makes little sense for the cars to be sent backwards and forwards to each and every test, particularly in the winter months when the work is virtually non-stop, using the tracks at Jerez, Valencia and Barcelona. There are new tracks also coming on line near Seville and in southern Portugal, both of which would also be served by a base in Valencia. In addition there is the possibility of doing straightline testing on the island of Menorca, which is ferry ride away from Valencia.

Williams has been looking at foriegn testing facilities for some years as the British circuits tend to be affected by the weather. It is not yet clear how any testing organisation would be structured but with modern communications there may also be some manufacturing capacity in Spain to made new aerodynamic parts, as this is often the area in which the most testing work is done.