Hopes that Red Bull Racing and Ferrari may have held to have been able to alter their attendance dates at the final F1 pre-season test have been dashed. The FIA intervened and forced both teams to stick with the assigned dates for the F1 teams’ last round of informal running in the lead up to the 2012 season.
With the third and final pre-season test kicking off on Thursday and finishing on Sunday, both outfits had hoped to run a Friday-to-Monday schedule.
But the FIA has dusted off the sport’s rule book, and cited a clause in Article 22.4C of the sporting code that forbids any pre-season testing within two weeks of the season-opening race, the Australian Grand Prix.
The actual wording states that – aside from straight-line testing – no circuit testing may take place “between the start of the week preceding the first Event of the Championship and 31 December of the same year”.
There had been some conjecture that “the week preceding the first Event” actually meant that teams could test up to March 11 (the Australian Grand Prix is run on March 18), but the FIA has indicated that it is actually referring to the full week before the Albert Park race, meaning that Sunday March 4 is the final test day available to teams.
The clarifications means that teams such as Lotus F1 and HRT will not be able to perform any additional running to make up for the track time that they lost during the earlier pre-season tests. Lotus F1 has three days up its sleeve after it withdrew from the last test at Barcelona when it suffered a front suspension problem, while HRT has only run during two of the scheduled eight days of pre-season testing.
There had been suggestions that the only reason that Red Bull and Ferrari had requested these altered dates was to give them extra time to develop new parts to try out on their respective challengers. Red Bull’s RB8 has proven to be the pacesetter in pre-season testing, while Ferrari’s F2012 has raised plenty of concern over its relative lack of pace.