With changes having been agreed for 2014 which will see driver changes allowed part-way through first free practice, several senior figures have admitted they’re unlikely to take up the opportunity.
During the Singapore Grand Prix weekend it was agreed that next season’s FP1 will now last two hours, instead of one and a half and will also allow two drivers to use the same car.
It’s aimed at giving youngsters the chance to take part in practice for the first half hour, in which they’ll be provided with an additional set of tyres, before handing it back to the race driver for the remainder of the session.
Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn admitted his team wouldn’t be taking advantage of the change, but would instead use the elongated session to give Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton extra time in the car.
“I think for us we’ll still stick with race drivers,” he said.
“One of the main changes is an extra set of tyres for the first half hour, which I think is a good move, and the ability to change drivers during a session, which is actually not easy. If you’ve got drivers with too much variance then it’s not such an easy thing but it’s doable.
“It’s not something that we would be considering because we need all the time in the car with our two race drivers – all the time we can get in the car with them – so I think there will be a point on the grid where it is more attractive to some teams, but certainly not for teams that are fighting for races and fighting for championships.”
McLaren’s Martin Whitmarsh agreed and even questioned whether driver-swaps would benefit any team.
“I think from McLaren’s perspective it’s not something that we’d necessarily want to do,” he added. “I can understand the view of some – which is that it’s very difficult for young drivers, there’s very little testing and it’s a way of encouraging them – but oddly I think it will work against the smaller teams because at the moment they have a unique opportunity to sell FP1; many do and it’s a surprisingly important revenue for some of those teams.