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What to expect from the first Formula 1 winter test in Barcelona

What to expect from the first Formula 1 winter test in Barcelona

21 February - 10:35

The first winter test for the 2022 Formula 1 season is about to start and so there is plenty to look forward to. What can you expect from the first winter test at the Circuit de Catalunya?

Shakedown in Barcelona

After the car launches, it's time for the first winter test in Barcelona from 23-25 February. Although it is officially not called a winter test but instead a 'shakedown', there is little change for the teams in their approach. The advantage, however, is that there are fewer spectators and thus even more can be hidden from the competition.

Winter testing has been standard in Formula 1 since 2008. In previous years, teams were free to test as much as they wanted, but to reduce costs this was restricted. In November 2008, the very first joint winter test was organised for the 2009 Formula 1 season, where major rule changes were also planned. Since then it has been customary for all teams to test on a circuit prior to an F1 season.

The circuit most often used for this is Barcelona. Spain is an ideal location for the teams who are all based in Europe and of the European countries, Spain is also a country where the temperature at this stage of the year still comes close to race conditions. Nevertheless, there are also regular complaints, especially when it rains or sometimes even snows just in that week.

Real winter test only in Bahrain

However, there have been a few exceptions to testing in Spain, and in 2022, Formula 1 will also use Bahrain as a circuit for the winter test. In Bahrain, the official winter test will be held, because the organisation wanted to have the exclusive opening of the season, including the photo opportunity with all the new cars. The first race of the season is also in Bahrain, so that in itself is logical.

The only problem was that the appointment with Barcelona was already set and that date was for the test in Bahrain. Due to this, it was decided to make the first winter test in Barcelona a shakedown. Journalists are welcome, but camera crews and fans cannot go to the circuit. Thus, footage of the first test will be limited to photos shared by journalists who attend, and the teams themselves.

While in recent years fans have been spoiled with images of testing, they'll now have to wait until the second test week in Bahrain which is from 10-12 March. From Barcelona we will have to make do with information provided by F1. At the end of each day there will be a timesheet.

What do you need to pay attention to during an F1 test?

At a test it is always important to look through the times. Making a ranking according to the tests is difficult, but not impossible. It's not always about who drives the fastest time, but who was driving on which tyre, at what time of day and how many laps they had already driven or were still driving. This in turn indicates how much fuel was in the tank.

Also, the long runs are interesting to compare during a test, but the question is to what extent F1 will make this data available in Barcelona. Normally F1's live timing could be used for this, but it is not yet clear if this will be available during the test week in Barcelona. Furthermore, the number of laps that a team drives is important, because you want to collect as much data as possible in this phase. The more laps you drive, the more reliable the car is and the more information a team gets.

With completely new regulations, however, the first test in Barcelona will be more like a shakedown. All systems will need to be checked, because these cars are completely new. So don't be surprised if a large part of the test will be indoors to adjust or replace parts.

Winter test at GPblog

The three test days are generally divided by the teams between the two regular drivers. Some teams choose to divide each day between the two drivers with a morning and afternoon program, but some teams also choose whole days, with each driver taking care of at least one whole day.

During the test week, GPblog is the place to be. Every day we will have a live blog, so you won't miss a single piece of action in Barcelona. On our website you will also find the results of the day, photo overviews and the reactions of all the drivers and team bosses after a session. The test day starts daily at 08:00am UK time and ends at 17:00.

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