The reduction in winter testing from 12 days to 8 has deprived many F1 fans of their early February sojourn in the Andalusian winter sun. The pilgrimage to Jerez was regularly made by thousands who were all keen to watch the roll out and running of the latest prototype single seater racing machines.
The testing in Jerez wasn’t particularly loved by engineers because the circuit is not representative of the race track challenges faced by modern F1 cars. However, the almost guaranteed dry and warm weather did mean the F1 teams were virtually guaranteed on track running time to shakedown the myriad of new systems their latest creations contained.
There is an FIA regulation which forbids running of the new Formula One cars before February 1st and given that the Jerez test was usually held over the first few days of February, this was the first time the cars were fired up and driven. It wasn’t unusual on day one in Jerez, for an F1 team to manage just a handful of laps as they discovered problems not foreseen. This was considered as par for the course and because no useful aero work was possible at the circuit, the focus was predominantly on getting the systems up and running reliably.
For 2016, F1 pre-season testing will be held exclusively in Barcelona and begins with 4 days on the 22-25 February. The Circuit de Catalunya is considered by the engineers to be an excellent test venue for the modern F1 cars. However, with just 8 days at this venue, the teams are looking for ways to perform the Jerez-style shakedown in advance of the first test in two weeks time.
Italian journalist, Leo Turini is suggesting that both Ferrari and Haas F1 will be utilising one of their ‘filming’ days on February 21st to perform shake downs on their cars, and Mercedes are believed to have booked Silverstone next week for a similar exercise. Teams are allowed two ‘filming’ days each year where they can run their cars for up to 100 km for “purely for marketing or promotional purposes” and special Pirelli tyres must be fitted to prevent proper performance analysis.
It would be surprising were other teams not to do something similar. After all, with just 8 days of F1 testing in Barcelona, losing the first day due to niggle-some problems would be a wasted opportunity.