A big change is afoot for Formula 1’s winter testing regime, with the circus set to relocate away from the Spanish circuit of Barcelona, a venue used for many years.
The teams are set to vote on the decision to change testing locations sometime before the Hungarian GP, with a majority vote being enough to pass the changes through.
It appears both Liberty and the FIA have given the green light to the move, but with caveats.
All teams suffered hugely from this year’s winter test, with significant problems due to unusual cold weather and even snow.
Track time was cut short, hurting some teams more than others (McLaren), almost 4 days were lost.
Couple this with the new track surface laid down, confusing the data and making it rather unrepresentative. Teams complained bitterly about lost hours and useless data.
The final nail in the coffin for Barcelona is the fact that the provisional 2019 calendar has moved the first race in Australia forward by a week, therefore pushing testing further back into the winter.
If not Spain, then where?
Over the years many have argued that Bahrain would be a far better suited circuit for testing and again this is the favoured choice for everyone. The principle issue stopping testing in the past was cost of transport.
A 6 hour flight requires a big increase in cost compared to Barcelona which is an easy and quick flight, but also transport via road is possible – enabling smaller teams to attend.
Owners of F1, Liberty Media, have stepped in to solve the situation proposing that Bahrain will become an option for all, and they will stump up the additional transport costs.
The price tag for such generosity? More content from the teams.
The marketing media giant requires the teams to be completely open with their access to the garages throughout testing, giving Liberty Media and maybe even the press, better access for more F1 content to the fandom.
Screens in front of the garages will be banned, the usual Red Bull hiding and trickery will become a thing of the past… we shall see.