Summer testing ban kicks in 22 Jul 2003
Normally on the Tuesday following a Grand Prix the bulk of the Formula One teams would be back on track, hard at work testing ahead of the following race. This week, however, sees the start of the summer testing ban, which effectively outlaws all on-circuit development until after the Hungarian Grand Prix on August 24.
The ban, a voluntary arrangement agreed upon by all ten teams, is designed to give their personnel more scope for a much needed summer break, as well as hopefully reducing costs. Of course, behind the scenes, in the design studios, the wind tunnels and the factories, the development activity will be as frenzied as ever as each team bids to find that extra ounce of performance ahead of the forthcoming German Grand Prix.
The testing ban looks particularly untimely for McLaren, who, having been beaten by both Ferrari and Williams at Silverstone on Sunday, are still waiting to introduce their new MP4-18. The car, which topped the times at the recent Barcelona test in the hands of Alexander Wurz, has proven its pace. However, the team admit they are still unsure of its reliability, and with the ban now limiting further development it remains unclear when and where the car will make its race debut.
The testing ban will also make life interesting for new Jaguar driver Justin Wilson. Following his switch from Minardi this week, the ban means he will start the Friday of the German Grand Prix in a new car, on new tyres (Minardi use Bridgestones, Jaguar Michelins), and all on a track he has never driven before in a Formula One car.
Wilson's Minardi replacement, Danish driver Nicolas Kiesa, will also have his work cut out when he makes his Formula One debut at Hockenheim. He and Wilson will at least, though, have the benefit of two hours' private testing on the opening morning of the Grand Prix, as Minardi and Jaguar are two of the four teams to have agreed to limited testing away from races this season in return for the additional Friday track time.