Testing in Formula One is how teams and manufacturers aerodynamically test newly created or updated parts of the car. It comes in three main forms; track testing, straight line/constant radius testing and wind tunnel testing. It is also related to Computational Fluid Dynamics.

Currently, testing in Formula One is very much restricted for cost-saving reasons, but changes are currently being implemented to increase this.

Sporting Regulations[edit | edit source]

Main article: FIA Sporting Regulations (2013)

The specific rules regarding testing are:

Track testing shall be considered any track running time not part of an Event undertaken by a competitor entered in the Championship, using cars which conform substantially with the current Formula One Technical Regulations in addition to those from the previous or subsequent year. The only exception is that each competitor is permitted up to eight promotional events, carried out using tyres provided specifically for this purpose by the appointed supplier, to a maximum distance of 100kms per event.
Track testing may only be carried out using cars which have been subjected to, and fulfilled the requirements of, the tests described in Articles 16.2-6, 17.2-3 and 18.2-9 of the F1 Technical Regulations. Furthermore, any car used for track testing must be fitted with the panels described in Articles 15.4.7 and 15.4.8 of the F1 Technical Regulations.
No competitor may carry out more than 15,000km of track testing during a calendar year.
No track testing may take place :
  • a) Whilst a Championship Event is taking place.
  • b) With more than one car per day at any such test.
  • c) Before 09.00 or after 18.00 on any day at any such test.
  • d) On any track located outside Europe without the agreement of the majority of teams and the FIA.
  • e) During the month of August except under (h)(iii) below.
  • f) During the month of January.
  • g) Between 1 February and the start of a ten day period which precedes the start of the first Event of the Championship of the same year with the exception of:
    • i) Aerodynamic tests carried out in accordance with 22.4(h)(ii) below.
    • ii) Three team tests of no more than four consecutive days duration, carried out on a site approved by the FIA for Formula 1 cars.
  • h) Between the start of a ten day period which precedes the start of the first Event of the Championship and 31 December of the same year with the following exceptions :
    • i) One three day young driver training test carried out on a date and site approved by the FIA following consultation with all teams. No driver who has competed in more than two F1 World Championship races may take part in this test and all drivers must be in possession of an International A Licence.
    • ii) Four one day aerodynamic tests carried out on FIA approved straight line or constant radius sites between 1 February of the current year and the start of the last Event of the Championship. Any of these days may be substituted for four hours of wind-on full scale wind tunnel testing to be carried out in a single twenty four hour period.
    • iii) If a team declares that one of its current race drivers is to be substituted by a driver who has not participated in an F1 race in the two previous calendar years, one day of track testing will be permitted between the start of a ten day period which precedes the start of the second Event and the last Event of the Championship. The following must be observed:
      • Any such day may only be carried out by the new driver and may not take place on a circuit hosting a race in the current Championship year.
      • Any such day may only take place within a period 14 days prior to the substitution and 14 days after the substitution has taken place.
      • If a team, having declared the driver’s substitution and performed the test, does not then enter an Event with the new driver, the team will be penalised by a reduction of one day from the pre-season track testing days available in the following year.
During all track testing cars must be fitted with the FIA ECU required by Article 8.2 of the FIA Formula One Technical Regulations. However, FIA approved software need not be installed in the FIA ECU when aerodynamic testing is being carried out in accordance with 22.4(c)(iii) above.
No track testing is permitted at sites which are not currently approved for use by Formula 1 cars. In order to ensure that venue licence conditions are respected at all times during track testing, competitors are required to inform the FIA of their test schedule in order that an observer may be appointed if deemed necessary.
During all Formula One track testing :
  • a) Red flag and chequered flag procedures must be respected.
  • b) No other type of vehicle is permitted on the track.
  • c) Every reasonable effort should be made to ensure that the recommendations concerning emergency services detailed in Article 16 of Appendix H to the Code are followed.
If, after an incident during track testing, the Medical Warning Light signals that threshold forces have been exceeded the driver must present himself for examination in the circuit medical centre without delay.
With the exception of the full scale testing permitted in 22.4(h)(ii) above, no wind tunnel testing may be carried out using a scale model which is greater than 60% of full size.
No wind tunnel testing may be carried out at a speed exceeding 50 metres/second.

The specific rules regarding tyre testing are:

25.5 Testing of tyres
  • a) Tyres supplied to any competitor at any time may not be used on any rig or vehicle (other than an F1 car on an F1 approved track, at the exclusion of any kind of road simulator), either Team owned or rented, providing measurements of forces and/or moments produced by a rotating full size F1 tyre, other than uniquely vertical forces, tyre rolling resistance and aerodynamic drag.
  • b) Tyres may be used on a test rig providing forces control and monitoring by F1 rim manufacturers for the sole purpose of proof testing their products.C

Types of testing[edit | edit source]

Track testing[edit | edit source]

Track testing is the process of collecting data while driving on a race circuit. This is the simplest form of testing, since all it involves is the driver driving around a circuit at a pace determined by the team, who collect the telemetry data. This data, compared to previously collected data, allow a team to work out if a new part of the car improves the car. The driver can also give feedback that the telemetry cannot pinpoint, such as how difficult the car is to handle.

Pre-season testing[edit | edit source]

Pre-season testing are the set of FIA-approved tests that take place prior to the first race of the season. Tests were not allowed in January until 2014, so these tests typically take place in February and early March. These tests are no more than four days in duration.

Mid-season testing[edit | edit source]

Allowed from 2014, mid-season tests are to be four two-day tests that will be approved by the FIA.

Young driver test[edit | edit source]

The "young driver training test" is a three or four day test that takes place during the season to help accustom young, inexperienced drivers. This test will be discontinued from 2014.

Substitution driver tests[edit | edit source]

Teams are allowed to test a driver for one day who has not driven in a Formula One event in the past two years if they intend to enter him into a future event. These come with very specific guidelines (see regulations above, § 22.4(h)(iii))

Straight line/constant radius testing[edit | edit source]

Straight line and constant radius testing fall under the same restrictions in the Sporting Regulations, being classed as "one-day aerodynamic tests". Teams are allowed to perform four of these a season, although they are allowed to trade them off for four hours of wind tunnel testing.

Straight line testing[edit | edit source]

Constant radius testing[edit | edit source]

Wind tunnel testing[edit | edit source]

Some restrictions are applied to the use of wind tunnels. There are a maximum of four 24-hour periods in which teams can perform four hours of wind-on testing on full-scale models, which is a trade off with straight line/constant radius testing. However, teams are allowed unlimited wind tunnel usage for models which are up to 60% scale and air speed of 50 metres per second (112 mph, 180 km/h).

Wind tunnels can measure drag, downforce, balance, air flow, pressures, and how additional forces and moments act around the car. While the measurements for drag, downforce, balance, pressures and other forces can be measured by using instruments on the car; air flow requires the use of a technique known as Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV). For PIV, the airflow is "seeded" with tiny bubbles of polystyrene latex, which behave in a very similar way to air. By shining a laser on the polystyrene latex and filming the motion, the direction of air travel can be seen.

From 2014, the amount of wind tunnel usage will be reduced.

Tyre testing[edit | edit source]

Tyre testing is testing that is undertaken by a tyre supplier. Since tyre suppliers typically do not work for a sole team, they must offer to test their tyres to multiple teams. This has to be agreed to by both the FIA and the rest of the teams and cannot be used for testing purposes by the team whose cars are driving in the test. The car itself must also be at least two seasons old (i.e. the car used cannot be the car used in either the current or previous season). Violation of these rules, in cases such as Testgate, can result in serious repercussions for both team and tyre supplier.

In special circumstances, such as for the 2013 Pirelli Tyre Test, the cars may not need to be two years old if granted special permission by the FIA.

The results of the tyre tests are normally held private by Pirelli.

History of testing[edit | edit source]

Testing components[edit | edit source]

Circuits associated with testing[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

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