Roar From The Paddock – Edition 1: Testing, Testing…One, Two, Three

Red Bull Testing - Max Verstappen
Feature Image Credit: Aston Martin Red Bull Racing/Red Bull Content Pool

As the 2019 Formula 1 Season gets underway, Testing is simply more than news car being experimented. Kick starting our fortnightly features, here’s the first edition of the Roar From The Paddock!

The wait is finally over!

The months of waiting during the winter period is at an end. The gap since the last chequered flag fell at the 2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to now feels like a life-time ago.

But it is all okay now. As February arrives it means only one thing: F1 is back!

The start of the 2019 Formula 1 season is upon us and the start of February normally becomes a landmark time for fans of the sport, as the teams reveal their new cars, liveries, line-ups and sponsors for the upcoming season.

The tradition of a season launch often varies from team to team. Some will reveal their cars through online and social media with the powers of rendered images and press packs. Whilst some go out there and do their launches in a fancy, presentation style for all of the world to see.

This year was no different. Teams revealed their new cars in their own unique way. Rich Energy Haas F1 Team were the first to break cover in a fancy launch in London. The “new” Alfa Romeo Racing Team were the last, revealing their car moments before the first pre-season test had begun in Barcelona.

With the covers off, the cars revealed, the fans hyped up. Testing can commence and the search for the pecking order begins.

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This year will see eight days of total testing take place, all taking place at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. This is also the same track where it’ll host the Spanish Grand Prix in May, so a useful playground for all the teams to test their cars.

Testing is split into two weeks, all having four days between them with a short break where everyone can rest a bit.

The first test is always considered to the important test out of the two for the teams, mainly because this will be the first time they’ll be running their new car on track.

This is often the week where teams will be praying that everything is working so they can perform numerous of tests to see where the limits are on their car.

Sometimes, it works like clockwork. Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport often have some of the cleanest testing in recent years. Always racking up over 100 laps per day and suffering no major issues with their engine or mechanical side of their car.

But there is evidence that when it can go wrong, it’ll lead questions going into the season. Take McLaren Honda for example. Their debut season was sparked by lots of failures over both tests and raised doubt over their reliability. What made the matter worse was Fernando Alonso’s strange crash during the second test that put him out for the first race of the 2015 season.

But there are cases where even if you don’t even turn up for the first test, it might be alright. Brawn GP did exactly that in 2009. After months of trying to stay alive after Honda pulled out of the sport, the team came to the second test and blitzed the entire field in one test. They would ultimately go on to win both titles with Jenson Button that season.

So it is possible to make it all work even through setbacks. The unfortunate scenario of what is happening at ROKiT Williams Racing at the moment is concerning. The delaying debut of the FW42 is something fans don’t want to see, especially from a legendary team such as Williams.

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Hopefully they’ll be able to turn it around and their car makes it to the second test. At this moment, they’ve cancelled testing for Monday and Tuesday, with a plan to test on Wednesday with George Russell and Robert Kubica.

The second test is the one where fans will be interested in as the teams will turn their engines up, fit on the softest tyres available and get the pace on.

Often or not, this is what fans are looking out for, getting a glimpse of what the potential pace will look like going into the first weekend of the season in Australia.

The nature of testing is always secret. It isn’t like any normal F1 Grand Prix you and I would attend to. Testing often is quiet, teams are secretive with their new cars, hiding any advantage they have so their opponents don’t see and potentially add them on their car.

You often get teams ‘sandbagging’ during testing to hide any pace they have. It is a very common tactic for the top teams in a bid to create some mind games with each other.

But eventually they’ll show their true colours and the pecking order will be revealed. Whether that’ll be seen at the first race in Australia, or midway through the season.

For the moment though, the vibes of having F1 back is like a ‘back to school’ feeling. It feels nice for F1 to be back and to be able to see cars going insanely fast.

There will be questions being asked throughout testing and leading into the first race. Obvious ones like ‘How well will Charles Leclerc do at Ferrari?’, ‘Was it a mistake for Daniel Ricciardo to leave Red Bull?’, ‘How will the rookies do?’ etc. But they’ll be new ones raised as testing goes by. Testing won’t be able to answer all of them, but it should give clearer answers ahead of the first race.

A thing to remember when it is testing time; The times mean nothing. You could set lap records but are they any good if they haven’t got much laps under their belt? If you can collect as many laps as you can, the more data and understanding of the car you’ll find. A quick and reliable car is better than just a quick car.

But testing is happening, which means only one thing… Formula 1 will be back on our screens! Well, some of our screens if you have Sky Sports F1. Anyway, the sport is back and we can’t wait for the upcoming season!

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