The boss of Abu Dhabi’s F1 circuit has criticised plans to run the young driver test at Silverstone later this year.
Originally, the young driver test was scheduled to take place as usual this year at Yas Marina, the week after the Abu Dhabi grand prix. But, due to the calendar congestion at the end of this season, the majority of teams have decided instead to go to Silverstone in July, with only the two Red Bull-owned teams sticking with the Abu Dhabi plan.
Lotus team boss Eric Boullier, however, is quoted by The National newspaper as saying the Silverstone plan is “nonsense”.
Yas Marina chief Richard Cregan agrees: “If you’re a good young driver in the middle of a season, then it’s not ideal to be testing a Formula One car midway through the year. These guys should be focusing on whatever series it is they are racing, which is why the F1 testing in Abu Dhabi worked so well in the past because it was effectively the end of their season.”
He also warned that the earlier timing of the Silverstone test means teams could spend more time trying to develop their cars than on seriously evaluating the next generation of drivers.
“It is first and foremost a young drivers test and it must remain that,” Cregan insisted. “It is a chance for young drivers to get maybe a first chance to drive an F1 car and it is chance for teams to run their eye over a driver and evaluate his performance. Developing the car and parts should be secondary,” he said.
Abu Dhabi could, however, be back on if Silverstone’s weather forecast looks poor, even though as soon as a car has left the pitlane in July, that team will no longer be allowed to change its plans.
Even though Lotus’ Boullier thinks the Silverstone decision was wrong, he has vowed to stick with the majority.
“But actually I would like it to rain, so we will go back to the original schedule,” said the Frenchman.
Cregan said Abu Dhabi’s door remains open.
“We’ll still be working to the same standards,” he said. “So in that sense nothing changes.”