Friday, 28 June 2013

Mercedes’ young drivers: Testgate’s real losers.

The war of words over the severity of the penalty handed to Mercedes following their three day tyre test with Pirelli in Barcelona continues to rage.  Red Bull and Ferrari have both expressed a feeling of injustice at the reprimand, an exclusion from the young driver test at Silverstone in July, on the grounds that it is too lenient.

Both teams have been vocal about perceiving that a disservice has been suffered, in that the advantage gained by conducting a private test with a current car and senior drivers cannot be compared with one undertaken by development drivers with eight other teams competing for track space.  

While Red Bull and Ferrari continue to show their disdain for the decision, thoughts must be spared for the development drivers of the three pointed star: Anthony Davidson, Sam Bird and Brendon Hartley.  While Mercedes as a team are happy with the decision made by the FIA International Tribunal, and have no intention of appealing it, these drivers will surely feel a pang of injustice. 

As a development driver, time on track in the actual car as oppose to the simulator is so limited and therefore so precious.  Like gold dust.  With the young drivers tests currently the only opportunity they have, unless given Friday practice run outs, to lose this must be devastating.  For Sam Bird and Brendon Hartley, for whom a potential Formula One career is still a goal and possibility, this is a chance to gain valuable experience and introduce Formula One to their talents that has been cruelly snatched away from them.  While they are part of the team and will show solidarity with them, it is only human to question the fairness of the decision. 

Sam Bird hitches a ride with Michael Schumacher.  Photo: Sutton images.
Brendon Hartley: Photo: Sutton images

Now more young drivers could be at risk of suffering the same unfairness, as a report in the Times newspaper has suggested  that Red Bull are considering carrying out their own private test in the knowledge that  the sanctions for doing so, would only affect their participation in the young drivers test.  Something they see as worthwhile losing if it enables them to test privately with a current car and senior drivers.  Watch out Sebastian Buemi, and in particular, António Félix da Costa. 

Type, in addition to severity of the reprimand, is an issue that should considered in order to avoid innocent members of a team left to suffer.  

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