F1 Today – Testing Prixview – 18/02/2020

F1 Today

Teams use film days to get early running

Williams, Haas and Renault have already hit the track at the Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya using one of their filming days to get some running in before testing begins on Wednesday.

The three teams rolled out their cars from the pit lane, Williams was first out after releasing the first images of the cars. While Renault and Haas had both launched their cars via online imagery, meaning it is the first chance to see all three cars in the flesh.

Williams and Haas are both in their finalised colour scheme for the new season, while Renault will run a black car for testing before revealing its proper 2020 livery ahead of the Australian Grand Prix.

Williams is running a new livery, adding red and black to its traditional blue and white livery after a sponsorship deal with Rokit. The team are happy to hit the track early, after missing the first two-and-a-half days of testing, setting the tone for what became its worst season in F1.

George Russell took the car to the circuit in the morning, with rookie teammate Nicholas Latifi to get a chance to drive in the afternoon. Esteban Ocon made his return to the sport following a year out, he was the first out in the Renault. His fellow Frenchman Romain Grosjean was in the Haas as it rolled out of the garage in the morning.

 

Renewed optimism for Racing Point

Sergio Perez says that Racing Point goes into this season with renewed optimism about its potential, as staff are no longer “doing a lot of jobs at once”.

Last season, the team were still resolving the fall out from the mid-season collapse of its former owners Force India and the years of financial problems.

The teams’ entry and assets were brought by a consortium led by Lawrence Stroll bought Force India’s entry and assets ahead of the 2018 Belgian Grand Prix, allowing new parts that had been designed but not released to be manufactured.

While the impact of those delays continued into 2019, when the team finished seventh in the constructors, the team started investing in its Silverstone base.

Speaking to Motorsport.com, Perez said he was “very impressed with what the team has done over the winter. We have to wait and see how we are really on track, how competitive we can be.”

“[But] I think the team is very optimistic. The team has never been in this position before, so I’d say that this is the best base that we’ve had for many years. This car is a result of so many years of struggles in the team, financial struggles, different kind of uncertainty.”

The Mexican says that he is hopeful with this car, which he believes brings the team to the next step. This now allows the team to focus on doing there job and that can make a huge difference.

Racing Point will be rebranded as Aston Martin for the 2021 season, while Perez signed a new contract that will keep him at the squad until the end of 2022, which he said was “definitely” unaffected by the name change.

 

Kubica first to drive Alfa Romeo’s car

Robert Kubica will be the first to drive the Alfa Romeo when testing begins tomorrow in Barcelona. The Polish driver has returned to the team for which he made his debut for in 2006, after announcing he would no longer race in F1 at the end of last year.

Kubica will drive the car on the first morning of winter testing on Wednesday, before handing over to Antonio Giovinazzi for the afternoon.

Kimi Raikkonen will drive the car for the full second day of the opening testing on Thursday before Giovinazzi takes over again for the final day on Friday.

Kubica is the teams’ reserve driver this season, he will also race in DTM with Alfa’s former owners BWM customers ART team in the touring car series.

 

What is testing?

Tomorrow morning teams will hit the track for the first time this year, for the first of six days of testing at the Circuit de Catalunya – Barcelona. The teams have spent the last two and a half months preparing for the shortest pre-season test in the history of the sport.

the three-day opening test presents them with their first true opportunities to put them through their paces. The next three days will focus on validating the designs, following eighteen months of development by the teams evolving their concepts from last year and trying to solve problems.

Systems checks and initial aerodynamic evaluations, when cars are equipped with many weird-and-wonderful-looking measuring rakes, go hand-in-hand with crucial reliability tests and early performance runs. They are also tyres to be tested, all this while the drivers try to acclimatise to the cars.

Lap time isn’t important during the first week, as the teams try different tyres, fuel loads and setups. Last year Renault was fastest in the first test, but in qualifying in Melbourne was a second and a half off Lewis Hamilton’s pole lap.

New Alfa Romeo signing Robert Kubica is the only non-race driver scheduled for track time, with the team’s 2020 reserve the first to drive the new C39 on Wednesday morning.

Most of the teams are giving each of their drivers one full day in the car apiece, eight hours of potential track time either side of the daily lunch break, and then splitting the other day’s running between them.

 

New Concorde Agreement “better for everybody”

F1 CEO Chase Carey says that he is comfortable with where things are in negotiating the new Concorde Agreement, saying the revised commercial terms for Formula One teams will be “better for everybody”.

After the teams agreed the technical and sporting regulations last October, talks moved on to the next phase of updating the commercial arrangement between Liberty Media and the teams. The current deal negotiated by Bernie Ecclestone in 2012 is due to expire on 31st December.

The biggest sticking point is the proposals is a fairer distribution of revenue, intended to help make competing in F1 more sustainable for all teams, as well as closing the performance gap through the grid in tandem with a cost cap, which has already received approval.

Speaking to Motorsport.com at the BHMSE conference in Baku, F1 CEO and chairman Carey offered an update on Concorde talks, saying the proposals would benefit all parties.

He said, “We’ve got agreements on the table, and we’re comfortable. We’ve put together a proposal that is fair to everybody. We’re in discussions with the teams, I think they’re constructive.”

“I think the sport will be better for the fans, better for the teams and better for everybody. We think it’s a real step in the right direction on all the fronts we’ve talked about before.”

“We haven’t finished it, but we’re in a good place, and we’d like to get it done. It’s for 2021, so there obviously is time. All along we’ve tried to make it more of a partnership, understand the various issues.”

Mercedes F1 team boss Toto Wolff said last week there were “some topics” that still needed finalising in the commercial talks, calling them a “work in progress”.

While Carey would not be drawn on any resistance to the proposals from teams, calling them “private conversations”, he said: “I think we’ve listened to everybody, we’ve tried to be responsive to everybody.

 

Testing Prixview

The next three days are some of the most important of the year, as it is going to be the foundation for the teams. The big question as always will be about the teams’ strategies they go for speed or reliability. The one that proved successful in recent years has been the latter.

Eight hours of running the teams have, but like a practice session, the clock doesn’t stop when the red flag comes out unless a major hour or more delay. The teams are likely to do race and qualifying times around mid-afternoon which is the warmest time of day and when the race is in May.

Does Ferrari learn that Mercedes have built their recent championship success on having the most reliable and raceable car but not the quickest over one lap. The belief is that they will remain in that position having dominated the hybrid era. But where are Red Bull in relation to that?

The midfield was close throughout 2019, that begun very early on so it will be interesting to see whether that continues. We also will want to see if the gap to the larger teams has narrowed, McLaren is eager to return to the top three. As ever, leading the midfield to the top teams is another step.

The tyres will be new, how far can teams go on a single set of tyres this year? The regulations largely are the same but these cars are bespoke and not always easy to repair issues in this early stage of the year, although the Melbourne-spec will be slightly different.

 

Read the full Prixview here

 

Join us throughout the day on Wednesday for regular updates from testing. LIVE coverage of Wednesday afternoons session from 12:45 GMT on @F1VaultLive, with a full round-up in the evening. F1 Today is back on Monday & Tuesday next week!

Jack

Jack is responsible for the day-to-day running of Formula One Vault. He brings you all the brilliant content. Has an obsession with all things Formula One and anything with an engine.