by Catherine Bruce
Ahead of the upcoming season and approaching car launches in February, F1 teams have
begun crash testing their new cars. So far, it has been reported that both Ferrari and Aston
Martin have passed these initial tests, but why is this bad news?
Red Bull’s RB19 failed its initial crash test last season, yet the team later created one of F1’s
most dominant cars. Teams aim for peak performance by pushing their cars to the limit
during design, and passing the first test may imply a failure to do so. Additionally, it’s likely
much harder to work from the bottom-up to solve where performance is being sacrificed,
than it is to work backwards from the limit to make the car safer.
Helmut Marko, Red Bull’s advisor, expressed his thoughts on this, telling F1-Insider, “If we
had passed the first crash test, there would have been a problem. Because then we would
have done a bad job.”
Sky Italia has reported that Ferrari’s Project 676, the codename for their new car, had its first
crash test attempt just before Christmas, with the news of their success emerging recently.
This isn’t necessarily bad for the Scuderia as prior to last season they reportedly produced
the same result with the SF-23 yet went on to be the only non-Red Bull to win a Grand Prix
Similar news has emerged from Silverstone, the home of the Aston Martin team, with their
car also passing the crash test and receiving FIA homologation, meaning that it meets the
FIA standards and specifications.
However, passing the first crash test isn’t all bad news. Firstly, it allows the teams to press
ahead with their 2024 plans rather than be held back waiting for FIA approval, enabling them
to reallocate resources to other important aspects of the team’s success. It could also be
argued that while some performance may have been sacrificed, passing these crucial tests
sets a strong foundation for both competitive racing and the safeguarding of drivers, giving
the drivers the confidence to push the car on track.
Passing a crash test too easily does come with wider implications for the sport, as they
contribute heavily to the ongoing improvement of safety standards. If the tests are
consistently passed without significant challenges, there is a risk of complacency in terms of
safety innovation. Teams may be less motivated to invest in and explore cutting-edge safety
technologies, potentially hindering progress in this crucial aspect of the sport.
Additionally, a swift passage through crash tests might mean that certain unconventional or
unforeseen crash scenarios were not thoroughly tested, which could leave the car vulnerable
in real-world crash situations.
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Despite reports of Red Bull’s RB20 potentially failing its crash test, these remain speculative,
and the progress of other teams is largely unknown. Pre-season testing in Bahrain from
February 21st to 23rd will provide the first glimpse of how these new cars will perform in the