Grapevine: Renault: a Tale of Two Tracks

At a time when team bosses have been keeping an extra close look at the testing activities of all their rivals, the more sharp-eyed among them will not have failed to have noticed that Renault were testing at two separate tracks on Wednesday

Grapevine: Renault: a Tale of Two Tracks

As test drivers Heikki Kovalainen and Franck Montagny conducted tyre evaluation work for Michelin at Paul Ricard in France, Renault development driver Jose Maria Lopez was pictured testing at Silverstone.

Although running at two tracks on the same day was previously the norm, and remains so for Ferrari, who have chosen to do their own testing programme this year, the doubling up of testing is not something any of the other outfits were supposed to have been doing this year.

The much talked about testing agreement between the 'Group of Nine' (as Ferrari's rivals have come to be known) made it clear that they would voluntarily limit themselves to 30 days testing during the season - with teams strictly limited to running on one track only and with a maximum of two cars.

So far, the teams have followed the ruling to the letter as much as possible. Earlier this year, BAR found themselves having to apologise to Minardi boss Paul Stoddart, the figurehead for the cost-cutting drive, when they realised after the event that they had tested at two tracks on the same day.

And just before the start of the season, McLaren's mechanics in Spain enjoyed a day of playing football while they awaited news from a wet Silverstone to find out if they could run their cars there or if Kimi Raikkonen had actually started a separate scheduled testing programme in the rain.

The pictures of Renault testing at two tracks on the same day, therefore, could be viewed by some as evidence that now the French manufacturer is fighting for the World Championship it has decided to do its own thing.

The truth, however, is slightly different. Although Kovalainen and Montagny were conducting a full-scale test at Paul Ricard, Lopez was merely called up for a short straight-line shakedown of an R24 demonstration car that will be used for Renault's 'F1 Road Shows' this year.

The handful of runs he completed could hardly be classified as a full-on test session - any more than the demonstrations of the R24 during the Road Show events at World Series by Renault races or the city runs will be deemed to be.

Conspiracy theorists may still yet have a field day, however.

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