Former driver and 1996 F1 champion Damon Hill believes that the multi-driver tests Alpine has been doing this week are not an infallible thermometer of how well someone would do as a starting driver in Formula 1, as several factors need to come into play beyond absolute rhythm.
Alpine ran a three-day closed-door test at the Hungaroring this week using its 2021 car, with several contenders in contention to replace Fernando Alonso next year.
Among the participants were former Alfa Romeo driver Antonio Giovinazzi, junior Alpine driver Jack Doohan, and Mercedes reserve and Alex Albon’s replacement at Williams, Nyck de Vries, as the team looks to narrow the list of candidates. , which team boss Otmar Szafnauer previously claimed was 14 riders.
Speaking on the F1 Nation podcast about Daniel Ricciardo not being present at the Alpine test despite publicly declaring he would return to the team, co-hosts Natalie Pinkham and Tom Clarkson agreed that the Australian should have been given a chance to show his capabilities again. for his old team, formerly called Renault.
But even if Alpine wanted to test Ricciardo against the other contenders, Hill stated that pure lap time in a test cannot be the only consideration when testing riders this way.
“I think testing is a very imperfect way of checking whether or not someone is what you want, but maybe they want to get familiar with them,” Hill said during the conversation about the Australian and near-ex-McLaren driver, and how he would fit back into the French team.
“And it’s about energy, it’s about when the guy walks into the garage, how the mechanics respond to him, how the engineers respond to this person, whether he can generate this magical quality, this leadership in a team.”
“If you just follow the pace, it can be very misleading, especially in a test, because it’s not easy to tell in a test who was fast. How many times do we go to pre-season testing and suddenly you see Haas being the fastest,” Hill said.
“Of course, you get to the first race, and it’s nothing like that. A test lasts an entire day, covering a circuit where conditions are changing all the time. How can you compare? You put a guy the next day, it’s a whole different story, different conditions,” she added.
Hill was not the first person to question this test format conducted by Alpine to choose a rider. Some other people in the F1 paddock, in addition to specialist journalists, also questioned the method used by the French team.