Narain Karthikeyan, secondary tester for Williams, has added his voice to the growing number of people criticising the Formula 1 testing rules. Karthikeyan recently joined the A1GP series because his workload as a test driver was so low for the 2007 season.
Karthikeyan is not alone – many test drivers have turned to other series in order to get more racing practice in. Red Bull’s Robert Doornbos is now driving in the Champ Car World Series alongside his Formula 1 duties, and Ferrari test driver Marc Gene is driving in the LMS series with Peugeot. Sebastien Vettel from BMW spoke out last week after BMW were forced to scrap his role as a Friday driver to ensure their race drivers got the practice in that they needed.
“If you ask any of the test drivers, everyone will speak about how it has affected them,” Karthikeyan stated. “I am sure teams will realise that it is not going to be beneficial in the long run. As far as development of the car goes and nuturing new test drivers is concerned, it is bad.”
The rules were changed for the 2007 partly to try and cut costs in Formula 1. However Williams driver Alex Wurz doesn’t believe this idea was ever going to work. “Money is never saved in Formula 1,” he said. “All the money that comes in is spent and the amount that comes in is dependent on the value of the sponsorship, and nothing else.”