Gentlemen, start your engines!
The roar of Formula 1 engines will once again fill the air in Jerez, Spain this morning, as pre-season testing gets underway.
Only 11 teams will be in action at Jerez, Marussia having elected to skip the first test. They will have their 2011 car at the second test in Barcelona from 21 February, and their 2012 car will be launched at the third four-day test in Barcelona from 1 March.
Mercedes have announced that they will run their 2011 car, which they say should assist in gaining a better understanding of the new tyres. The new Mercedes car will be unveiled on 21 February at the second test in Barcelona. HRT have also said they intend to run their new car in Barcelona for the first time. All of the remaining teams will feature their 2012 cars today, with Williams planning to launch their car at the Jerez track this morning.
Today will be largely about testing of systems on the cars, making sure that everything fuctions as intended, and then perhaps moving on to some development work if there are no major teething issues. The teams will be looking around at their rivals to gauge any interesting technical innovations that might be apparent.
Lap times in testing are particularly difficult to interpret, as the teams do not normally show their full performance in testing. Most like to have something in reserve for when the season starts, so as not to give away too many of their secrets to the competition. Today’s lap times will be even more difficult to interpret as it is difficult to know what the teams are testing with regard to fuel loads, etc.
The driver line-up for the day is:
Red Bull – Webber
McLaren – Button
Ferrari – Massa
Mercedes – Rosberg/Schumacher
Force India – Di Resta
Lotus – Raikkonen
Sauber – Kobayashi
Toro Rosso – Ricciardo
Williams – Maldonado
Caterham – Kovalainen
HRT – De la Rosa
Analysis to follow later in the day.