Davidson wants return of Friday drivers
|By Mark Glendenning and Matt Beer||Monday, January 12th 2009, 14:57 GMT|
Anthony Davidson has called for a return to the practice of running test drivers on the Fridays of grand prix weekends.
The scheme was first introduced in 2003, when a separate early morning session was held for third drivers, and from 2004 to 2006 teams who had finished outside the top four in the Constructors' Championship were allowed to run a third car throughout Friday practice.
But since 2007 teams have only been allowed to use two cars on Fridays, so any test driver mileage has come at the expense of a race driver. BMW and Williams briefly continued to run third drivers before deciding that this disadvantaged their full-time line-up.
Davidson rose to prominence with some eye-catching Friday performances for Honda in 2004, and thinks the loss of this opportunity has been a major blow to young drivers trying to break into race seats.
"Speaking from experience, it did myself, Robert Kubica and Sebastian Vettel no end of good," said Davidson at Autosport International.
"It put us on the map, it got us into Formula One. Running cars on the Friday, in my mind, was great for the fans that were there anyway, the cars were there anyway, the staff were there to run the cars, and the drivers are there.
"So it made perfect sense, and it still makes perfect sense to run those drivers on the Fridays to give you the experience of learning the circuit. Then you become a more valuable commodity to the teams themselves in that given the chance, you can just then step in on the Saturday and qualify or do the last practice session with the experience of having driven on the Friday."
He added that he thought reviving the Friday third driver scheme was even more important given the drastic restrictions on testing being introduced this year.
"With them trying to limit testing, which they are going to do this season, I think it makes even more sense to run cars on the Friday for the young drivers and give the teams a chance to see what the young drivers can do," said Davidson.
"It was one of the best times of my career. Just learning all of those new circuits, like driving around Monaco for the first-ever time in a good car, in a good situation, getting to pound around behind (Michael) Schumacher in a Friday test session... I learned so much more than just pounding around Barcelona all by myself. It was great for the drivers, and great for the sport as well."