January 20, 2007 / 1:08 PM / 13 years ago

Super Aguri want third driver rule for GP Fridays

LONDON (Reuters) - Formula One tail-enders Super Aguri want teams to be forced to sideline one of their two race drivers in Friday practice at grand prix weekends next season.

Managing director Daniele Audetto told Reuters on Thursday that the Honda-backed team would be looking for a rule change to ensure that young test drivers still had a chance to gain experience.

“We are looking to the next Formula One commission meeting to ask the other teams to make it compulsory to have a test driver on Friday,” he said.

“Otherwise, with only two cars available, I will not give an advantage by running a test driver to other teams that will be using their regular drivers.”

He said the proposal would be put forward at a meeting in Monaco next week.

The governing FIA said in October that teams would no longer be allowed to run three cars — one driven by a test driver — in Friday practice, as has been the case this year for those who finished the 2005 championship outside the top four.

Instead, Friday practice will be expanded to two 90 minute sessions — from two one-hour stints at present — with each team allowed only two cars.

Although engines must still last for two successive grands prix, Fridays will be exempt and teams can replace the race units with others for practice.

That should mean the crowd see far more of the leading drivers, since they can now do as much mileage as they want without having to worry about conserving their engines. But test drivers may have far less to do, if anything.

“If you use a young test driver (on Friday), you will be less competitive for setting up the car and therefore the qualifying and the race,” said Audetto.

“So either everybody uses a third driver on Friday and that must be compulsory — that one of the regular drivers must not drive at least for one session of 90 minutes — or I think very few teams will give a chance to a test driver on Friday.

“We have to wait and see if a test driver is important or not next year,” he added.

If the teams agree unanimously, and that is by no means definite, it could mean some difficult decisions with some race drivers getting less track time than others.

Audetto said FIA president Max Mosley and commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone both fully supported “the idea of giving the possibility to young drivers to come into Formula One, because otherwise we have almost closed the door to potential new drivers.”

Super Aguri have Briton Anthony Davidson, previously Honda’s Friday test driver, in their race line-up next year with Japan’s Takuma Sato.

They have yet to appoint a test driver, although Japan’s Sakon Yamamoto would be an obvious candidate after racing for the team this year as a rookie.

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