"The track is my canvas. My car is my pencil" Graham Hill
The abolishment of testing has been a key move to level the playing field in F1. We see cars running closer together at qualify and it gives a better chance to have a few odd-balls every now and then break the running order of the top teams. Single out RedBull, and we’ve had seasons where Ferrari and McLaren have started on the back foot plenty of times. Remember 2009, Kimi brought the only victory to the Scuderia in Spa, and that was racing against a Force India. What about McLaren's resent slump? It’s almost a decade without a constructor’s championship for them.
Any ways, every year the circus goes around the globe, and every year it seems like it becomes more unavailable to fans though races per year have increased. Why? We’ve had state of art venues built exclusively in some cases to host an F1 race which means massive cost. Ever dream of meeting your current favorite driver? Unless you strike the lotto you probably won’t, as the paddock passes are to most simply inaccessibly expensive. It might have been on Oppo that I read or on one the F1 sites I check continually that someone was yelling across the board to have the return of testing. Why, because it was a chance for true fans to be close to “action,” walk around the circuit, maybe the edges of the pit lane. Yes, testing could allow one to meet our hero’s but only if it becomes more open (forget the secretive BS Ferrari and Mercedes have taken part of with Pirelli).
F1 for all its charm and speed is beginning to lose plenty of field against other sports. Football (soccer and American) have training camps events and the usual PR events. Of course you can always pay top dollar for courtside seats, near locker access (careful with thinking you are Drake though) as in any other sport, but the thing is that you have a better chance of at least getting an autograph from someone of miniscule importance than you have of getting the autograph of a mechanic in F1.
Testing should not only be about the opportunity for teams to catch-up on their rivals (or even further trounce them), but it should be an opportunity to get closer to the fans. The more access the fans have, the more dollars they can charge to sponsors or that is the way I see it, which apparently supremo Bernie does not. I’m tired of seeing meaningless celebrities trot around the paddock. Sure it gives the sport additional exposure, but I would much rather have them be fans or racers, much like the love "Jack" Nicholson has for the Lakers or Eric Bana & Patrick Demspey who are racers themselves.
The FIA should mandate that testing be done on different circuits, maybe those that are FIA approved but are not part of the calendar. Or force testing to be done at different venues around the globe (maybe the larger teams could subsidize the smaller ones to make it more accessible to them) and vary them per season. Think about those regions that have only one race or none. This could allow F1 to further tap into developing markets. Imagine having testing in Austin in case you missed the race (could be carried before/after Canada or Brazil).
F1 has to do more to support fan access whether it’s the physical experience or the digital one, instead of strengthening that iron curtain of secrecy and unobtainability that it has had over the years.
By the way, that picture on the top, that’s my mom back in the day with none other than the artisit, Graham Hill. Where you ask? In Colombia which has never hosted an F1 race. Mr. Hill was testing the Lotus in a circuit that wasn’t even finished (look at the pit lane behind). According to her, my grandfather simply took her to the circuit and walked straight into the pit lane. No politics, no passes, no bollocks as the British would say. Those were the days.
Before I forget, you know what else has to happen. Pirelli should start selling those Stetsons. If only the FIA had demanded that in their ruling last Friday.