2020 winter testing explained

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Fans are only a few days separated from the moment when Formula One teams and drivers commence the pre-season testing at Barcelona that will see them completing a congested schedule over an extremely short period of time.

Formula One is slowly but surely returning after its seemingly never-ending winter sleep. It probably feels like the 2019 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix had been staged ages ago after long weeks without F1 cars circulating around circuits in race conditions. However, the waiting is slowly over as the brand-new machines of the sport’s main competitors will make their track debut on Wednesday.

When it comes to the weather, teams hope for representative conditions which can help them mimic the circumstances they will encounter during the season. At the moment, everything is looking fine with nice, sunny weather expected for the first three days of pre-season testing.

All ten teams will be in action in a shortened pre-season testing which will run from February 19 to 21 and February 26 to 28. Previous years provided teams with eight days of on-track testing, 2020 will see the number of test days drop to just six. Teams have to be extremely careful when they plan their testing programme as it would be even more difficult to recover early lost mileage later on in the test days.

Testing will be once again very important for the teams to sort out the reliability issues that they could not find and solve back in their factories. Ultimate pace will be less important and it can even be misleading. It is not necessary to dig deep in the memories as last year’s fastest team in testing, Ferrari could not keep up with Mercedes when the lights went green in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, proving how needless it is to over-analyse testing times.

Running will take place between 09:00 to 18:00 each day with a one-hour lunch break splitting the days into two halves. Because of the congested schedule, most of the outfits will use some of the lunch breaks to re-set the driving positions which will then enable teams to run with two drivers on the same test day.

Live coverage of each session will be available on F1TV Pro. Fans will receive lots of insights and analysis with the official broadcast being produced by the F1TV along with the Sky UK and Sky Italia. Formula 2 and 3 commentator Alex Jacques will work on the coverage while presenter Will Buxton will report on each day in the afternoon. Ex-Renault driver Jolyon Palmer will also give his opinion and assessment over the results. Formula One has also promised to launch a richer live timing which will help fans understand the proceedings even better.

For the first time after many years, teams will not be permitted to use doors in front of their garages during pre-season testing which should enable a much better look into the work of each outfit. The only exception will be the event of technical failures and crashes when teams still can use their movable screens.

The 2020 FIA Formula One World Championship starts on March 15 when the lights go green for the first time this season in the Australian Grand Prix.