The regulations for 2016 mean that pre-season testing has been cut from 12 days to 8 days, all in the pursuit of cost saving.
The regulations states that the teams cannot test their cars prior to the 1st February, though in 2014 they received special dispensation from the FIA to begin winter testing during the last week of January. This was due to reliability uncertainty over the new V6 Turbo Hybrid power units.
For 2016, the opening event of the season in Australia has been moved back two weeks and will take place during the first weekend of April.
2016 winter testing is now pencilled in for March 1-4 and 15-18, both at the circuit de Catalunya. Jerez is to be dropped.
For those who love to shoot pictures of F1 cars in less usual circumstances, the loss of Jerez will be harsh. The setting for the circuit on the Iberian peninsula is desert like and produces some spectacular backdrops not seen elsewhere the F1 cars run in modern times.
The reason for the Jerez test has always been in the south of Spain during February, the temperatures regularly climb during the day to around 20-25 degrees Celsius. Whilst in Barcelona at that time of the year, snow and ice may prevail.
The teams have chosen to run both tests during the week – Tue-Fri. They claim, if the tests were at the weekend a much bigger crowd would attend and the circuit de Catalunya would be required to increase security and pass the costs on to the teams.
TJ13 has learned the Tue-Fri schedule is a negotiating position. Both teams and the Barcelona circuit owners know that when winter testing has been run at the weekend, crowds of 30,000 plus have turned up.
The minimum entry fee is 15 Euro’s and rises to 75 Euro’s to include a lunch time walk along the pit lane.
If the circuit were to reduce the charges they are proposing to levy on the teams for the winter tests, then the teams may play ball and agree to test over the weekend – then the F1 fans can get closer to the sport they love.