F1 2016: First pre-season test preview

F1i previews the start of pre-season testing, where new cars and new driver line-ups will be seen in action for the first time in 2016

Motor Racing - Formula One Testing - Test Two - Day 3 - Barcelona, Spain

A long winter without F1 finally comes to an end on Monday morning as the first pre-season test gets underway at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. It will have been 83 days since the whole F1 grid last ran in any sort of anger during the Pirelli tyre test in Abu Dhabi, with only Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren taking part in a wet tyre test last month.

Pre-season testing is always an exciting time, with new cars being launched, drivers settling in to new teams and the ongoing guessing game regarding who has made a step forward and who is struggling with their latest design. This year, the wait will have been worth it because F1 is going to be operating at full throttle from day one, with just four days between the two pre-season tests and then a two-week gap until the first race in Australia.

New cars, new drivers, and even a new team make up what is set to be one of the most competitive grids in years. Bring it on.

WHAT TO WATCH

So what should you be looking out for over the next four days? Well the first test will provide us with our first look at the new Haas F1 Team, with Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez getting behind the wheel of its first car which will be launched this afternoon. With plenty of F1 experience within the team all eyes will be on how quickly Haas gets to grips with its car, and whether it will be a midfield runner from the outset.

Not quite a new team, but Renault returns as a constructor for the first time and gives Kevin Magnussen his second chance in F1 alongside rookie Jolyon Palmer. For Renault it is not just about the car, but the French manufacturer is well aware it needs to make progress with its power unit if it wants to be competitive in the near future, and it will be interesting to see the dynamic between Renault and Red Bull - with the latter running Renault power units badged as Tag Heuer.

Motor Racing - Formula One Launch - Renault Sport Formula One Team R.S.16 Launch - Paris, France

Another team needing to deliver the goods in terms of power unit progress is McLaren-Honda. Last yearโ€™s โ€˜size zeroโ€™ concept continues with the MP4-31 which was launched this morning, but a strong aerodynamic car will only be successful if Honda has managed to rectify the performance and reliability issues it faced in 2015. This is a relatively easy one to keep an eye on; McLaren completed just 79 laps during the first test last year, and only increased that to 124 during the second test.

Manor also expects to see a big step forward courtesy of its 2016 power unit as it switches from a 2014 Ferrari engine (in a 2014 car last year) to a new car powered by this yearโ€™s Mercedes. In Pascal Wherlein, Manor has one of the brightest young talents in motorsport in one of its cars, while Rio Haryanto completes an all-new driver line-up. With a Williams technical partnership to add to the strong engine and driver, Manor looks all set to enjoy its most competitive season to date. The only question is how competitive?

LAUNCHES

Cars already launched:

  • Williams FW38
  • Ferrari SF16-H
  • McLaren MP4-31
  • Mercedes W07

Cars to be unveiled later on Sunday:

  • Haas

Monday launches:

  • Force India VJM09 - 08:30
  • Red Bull RB12 - 09:00
  • Manor (TBC)

(All times local time)

Motor Racing - Formula One Testing - Test Three - Day 4 - Barcelona, Spain

SCHEDULE

Morning session: 0900-1300
Afternoon session: 1400-1800

(All times local time)

WEATHER FORECAST

The teams should be faced with a favourable weather forecast for the majority of this week, with only a slight threat of rain on Monday giving way to fairly warm and dry conditions on Tuesday and Wednesday. As it stands, Thursday could see rain interrupt matters with a good chance of showers on the final day.

You will be able to follow all of the action as it happens with F1iโ€™s live coverage of pre-season testing. Bringing you live timing and text commentary, as well as the latest information from the pit lane and paddock via our Twitter feed.

GALLERY: Mercedes W07

GALLERY: Ferrari's new SF16-H

GALLERY: Williams FW38

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