Friday GP testing set for go-ahead

The proposal for a two-hour test session on Friday mornings of grands prix looks sure to be introduced for 2003, according to Minardi boss Paul Stoddart

Friday GP testing set for go-ahead

At least three teams must nominate the option by December 15 for the new cost-cutting measure to become reality. By doing so, they would limit their testing time away from races to just 10 days for the rest of the season.

While Formula 1's top teams wish to continue with heavy test schedules throughout the year, leaving them just an hour's free practice before qualifying, the option would in theory save money for smaller outfits. They would also benefit from more track time than the frontrunners over GP weekends.

Stoddart claims that "four, maybe even five" teams will go for the Friday testing option.

"I have a commitment from one other team, certainly, and three others possibly, so I would say, yes, it is going to go ahead," he said. "I think it's incredibly important for journalists, as well, that we have more to write about on the Thursdays and Fridays. At some of the Grands Prix not much happens on a Friday and the press do really struggle for things to write about."

Stoddart is likely to embrace the chance to run local test drivers in the two-hour sessions at each race. For example, Australian James Courtney has been suggested as a candidate for the race in Melbourne.

"I have had a phone call from James' management," said Stoddart. "I have to be honest, we make no secret of this, we are looking to get revenue out of Fridays. The way it's shaping up at the moment is that we will most likely take a test and reserve driver who will participate for some of that period at all 17 grands prix and we will take local drivers, where available with budget, to compete in also those Friday morning sessions."

Jordan and Sauber are the other teams thought to be in favour of the idea, while it has been said Jaguar and Renault could sign up for it too.

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Stoddart: Minardi will survive 2003

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