The Formula One Young Driver Test has always provided teams with the opportunity to try out new upgrades. But with teams this year opting to take part in one of three different tests, have those testing this week at Magny-Cours taken the initiative at a crucial stage of the season?
This year, there has been much dispute between Formula One teams on when and where the now traditional "Young Driver Test"—where inexperienced young drivers get a rare chance to try out an F1 car—would take place.
We've already seen Williams and Marussia take part in a damp July test at Silverstone in England, and this week Ferrari, Mercedes and Force India took to the track at the former site of the French Grand Prix, the Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours.
While the pretense of the test is that it provides much-needed track time to drivers who otherwise would not get the chance due to the ban on testing, because of this ban, teams are always likely to use any opportunity to run new parts before the upcoming races.
All of which raises the question—is there an advantage to running now, as opposed to earlier/later?
The test at Silverstone was severely hampered by the typically changeable British summer weather—a big reason why the big teams avoided it—so while Williams tested a lot of parts, the usefulness of the data is questionable.
And, while it will undoubtedly be useful for McLaren and Red Bull to test ahead of the two, possibly crucial, final races of the season, is there more value to running now, with more races left to use the information gleaned?
This is, of course, debatable. However it is certainly fair to say that the Mercedes team had some development catching up to do compared with the other top five teams, so the timing was perfect for them...