McLaren's reserve driver Pedro de la Rosa has hit out at Formula 1's testing rules, and he reckons the sport needs to change them urgently for its own good.
The Spanish driver believes Formula 1 has done a good job of trying to limit the amount of testing during the season in order to reduce costs, but he feels having just three days and for drivers with no GP experience is wrong.
In-season testing is banned in Formula 1, and this week's Young Driver Test at Abu Dhabi is the only chance teams have to test their current cars before February next year. De la Rosa reckons limiting testing to just three days and to non-GP drivers is an "aberration."
"It is a paradox that after the Abu Dhabi GP, the teams organized three test sessions for 'young drivers,'" de la Rosa said. "It makes perfect sense to me that in the highest category of motor racing you can test in a limited and controlled way to avoid the spiraling of costs which had occurred a few years ago, when private tests were unlimited and each week after a grand prix we tested for an average two or there days a week with two cars.
"It makes perfect sense to me to limit and control tests in order to contain costs, but come on, limiting them to three days a season exclusively for 'young drivers' seems an exaggeration – and an aberration for a sport which should be the prime example of competitiveness and innovation in the world of motor racing.
"Neither does it make sense to me that a 'young driver' is considered to be someone who has not raced more than two GPs in their whole sporting career. "For example, Jaime Alguersuari is only 22 yet he is now not considered a 'young driver' and could not test in these Abu Dhabi sessions."
The Spanish veteran believes it makes little sense that reserve drivers like himself are not allowed to test the cars they would have to race in case they need to replace the racing drivers during the season.
"What is worse, as far as I am concerned, is that the reserve drivers – those of various ages who like me travel with our teams all year all over the world, who sit on the bench every two weeks awaiting his opportunity – are not being allowed to test for a miserable three days with the 'young drivers' to get ourselves in shape and be ready in case we are needed as a reserve in the next race in Brazil, for example.
"In short, the reserve drivers are those who have to replace the first choice drivers but are the only ones who are not allowed to test during the season in an F1 car, except on simulators. And this is all under the umbrella of 'reducing costs' and giving more opportunities to 'young drivers' (only three days).
"Certainly by this time you must already have deduced that there are drivers 30 years old who by the mere fact that they have still not raced in more than two GPs in their whole sporting careers continue to be 'young.' My strategy of being a reserve driver does not work. I cannot practice and I don't want to race on inferior terms, mechanical inferiority is, of course, somewhat acceptable but inferiority when it comes to testing should not be."
The 40-year-old Spaniard added that Formula 1 must react quickly to make the necessary changes that allow teams to test during the season while keeping costs under control.
"The teams must urgently establish and agree between them a limited schedule of private group tests," he declared. "For example, why on earth is a limit of no more than eight test sessions (of three days each) not established for the whole season and preseason, for which the teams can choose whoever they want, young, old, reserve or first choice?
"Perhaps it is too simple and therefore people are afraid to make the leap...but believe me, it is urgent for the health of F1."