FEBRUARY 9, 2009
And so to Bahrain
The Formula 1 testing restrictions were designed to keep costs down. The limited amount of available running means that every test has become vital, not least because there will be no testing once the season begins. Teams can work with simulation technology but in order for this to be realistic the teams need as much data as possible from real testing.
The mid-January tests in Spain and Italy were all disrupted by the poor weather that has been affecting Europe this year and Ferrari and BMW Sauber have now decided to follow the lead established by Toyota in December and will switch the next tests to Bahrain, where there is a much better chance of uninterrupted running in the dry and temperatures which will better reflect the kind of conditions that teams will have to face later in the summer.
The teams that tested in Portimao last month were unable to do more than 500-800km in the course of the four-day test, and much of that was achieved in wet and windy conditions. Ferrari fared batter by switching its testing to Mugello where the team managed 1500km, while BMW Sauber made the best call and achieved 1900km at Valencia, although none of these tests was without rain.
With the weather not getting any better and snow across much of the northern parts of Europe at the moment, Bahrain makes more sense. The plan is for the teams involved to run two four-day tests that will take place between February 10-13 and 16-19.
Will it reduce costs? Obviously not, but in F1 there are times when needs must be met and being properly prepared for the season ahead is of vital importance.
Red Bull will launch its new RB5 at Jerez this morning with four other teams: McLaren, Williams, Renault and Toro Rosso joining the Milton Keynes team at Jerez on Tuesday. Toro Rosso will use its 2008 cars, as the new Red Bull-built chassis will not be ready for some time yet. If the weather is good we may begin to get a good picture of the competitiveness of the various teams.