- Ferrari's Fernando Alonso criticizes Formula One's testing regulations
- The Spaniard says it is like asking footballers to play with tennis balls
- Current rules allow one three-day in-season test and a number of pre-season tests
- Robert Kubica suffers a broken leg after a fall at his home in Italy
Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso has slammed Formula One's rules on car testing, describing the regulations as like asking footballers to train with tennis balls or tennis stars to play with bats.
The two-time world champion questioned the wisdom of the current rules, which allows one three-day in-season test in addition to a number of officially sanctioned pre-season tests.
The Spaniard, who won the drivers' championship in 2005 and 2006, said there was only so much a team could learn from using computer simulators, explaining that some drivers look elsewhere in a bid for much-needed practice.
"How much a new technical component can deliver in terms of performance remains a question mark after being tried out only on the simulator," the 30-year-old told a press conference at Ferrari's annual Wroom media event.
"F1 is one of the very few sports in which training is forbidden ... It's like telling Lionel Messi to train with a little tennis ball or Rafael Nadal to play with a ping-pong bat...We go karting because we have no alternative."
The restrictions on testing mean some drivers turn to other motorsport disciplines, with Poland's Robert Kubica suffering compound fractures to his right elbow, shoulder and leg in a rallying accident last February.
Kubica missed the whole of the 2011 season due to the crash and suffered a further setback on Wednesday when it was announced that he had broken his right leg during a fall at his home in Italy.
The 27-year-old had already ruled out a comeback in time for the start of the 2012 world championship, with his former team Renault, now known as Lotus, recruiting an all-new driver line-up of 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen and Frenchman Romain Grosjean.
But the recently renamed marque's principal, Eric Boullier, took the time to praise Kubica's courage and wish him a speedy recovery.
"Robert has shown fantastic courage and determination in his rehabilitation following the accident last year," Boullier told the team's official website.
"It is sad to hear that he has suffered this setback. On behalf of everyone at Lotus Renault GP, I would like to wish Robert a quick recovery."
Before news of Kubica's latest injury emerged, Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali had been discussing the possibility of the former Sauber driver joining the Italian outfit as a replacement for Brazilian Felipe Massa.
The future of Massa, who joined Ferrari in 2006, has been the subject of widespread speculation after a disappointing 2011 season saw him finish sixth in the drivers' standings.
Domenicali described Kubica as a great driver, but stopped short of confirming or denying Ferrari's interest in him.
"Robert is a great driver, but he had very severe injuries and he is still working hard just to get back to normal living," he said.
"We need to wait and see. That kind of injury takes a long time to recover from."
The 2012 F1 season will begin on March 18 with the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.
Meanwhile, Thursday's 11th stage of the Dakar Rally saw both overall leaders consolidate their advantages with victories in the 478km leg from Arica in Chile to Arequipa in Peru.
Frenchman Stephane Peterhansel finished three minutes 44 seconds ahead of Nani Roma of Spain in the car section and now leads his fellow-Mini driver by 22 minutes and 49 seconds.
American Robby Gordon's challenge finally ended, as more problems with his Hummer meant he limped home nearly two hours behind to slip to fourth place overall and completely out of contention barring a miracle.
Another Frenchman, Cyril Despres, extended his lead to 2:22 over fellow-KTM rider and defending champion Marc Coma in the motorcycle section, after his fourth stage victory.
Despres came home 1:39 ahead of Gerard Farres Guell, with Coma back in third place, although the gap is still comparatively small with three stages still remaining.