Next year’s Formula 1 testing schedule is in limbo as possible cutbacks are discussed, while one option could allow teams an extra week in which to ready their 2020 cars.
Teams provisionally agreed to stick to the familiar schedule of two four-day pre-season tests at Barcelona, which would be followed by the traditional pair of two-day in-season tests – the first in Bahrain and a second most likely at Silverstone.
That basic timetable is built into the sporting regulations, and changing it will require the unanimous agreement of all the teams.
But a potential move towards 22 races, with Vietnam and the Netherlands joining and potentially only Germany dropping off the current calendar, has led Liberty Media to ask teams if they are able to deal with an extra race, with a testing cutback an option to compensate for an extended calendar.
Matters are further complicated by the extra 18-inch 2021 tyre testing Pirelli will undertake throughout next season, which will also be a draw on teams’ resources.
The testing schedule is usually finalised at team manager level, but a cutback has been under discussion in recent meetings involving team principals, the FIA and F1.
Teams have different views on what direction to take, but a source told Autosport everyone acknowledges a change should be made, and that a unanimous agreement is getting closer.
One option is to have one five-day pre-season test, which would take the slot usually reserved for the second four-day test.
It would mean testing would start a week later than planned, which would give teams extra time in which to ready their cars, and to fit in their filming and shakedown days.
The downside for teams is that they prefer to have a break in pre-season testing to give them time to deal with any issues that appear in the initial running.
An alternative option under discussion is to replace the current schedule of four days running, four days off, four days running with a three-two-three schedule.
This could potentially have the same final day as was originally planned, but start four days later, again giving the teams extra time in which to ready their cars. The two in-season tests are also under review.
“I’m of the opinion that we do too much pre-season testing anyway,” said Racing Point technical director Andy Green.
“With all the dynos and simulators we have the cars are pretty reliable, and the places where we can go to test pre-season don’t really represent the majority of the tracks we go to.
“If you really wanted to mix things up a bit then reducing the amount of pre-season testing would help. I think we could do a bit less.
“It’s a tough test anyway, the pre-season test. It’s not a great way to start a season, especially with 22 races, to do two weeks at the start of the season.
“If that was reduced slightly it would reduce the burden on the people who have got to do it.”