Formula 1 2024 pre-season testing: Schedule, telecast & everything you need to know
(Courtesy : Formula 1)
As the dates on the calendar approach closer to the 2024 Formula 1 season, the anticipation among the racing enthusiasts and the teams is palpable. The F1 fandom eagerly awaits the pre-season testing phase, where teams prepare for some early on-track action.
The pre-season testing phase is an important period where teams fine-tune their machines, drivers get accustomed to their new rides, and the fans get a gist of what they might witness on the tracks in the upcoming months. The stage is set for the 2024 pre-season testing, and here’s everything you need to know.
When and Where is F1’s 2024 pre-season testing?
The 2024 F1 pre-season testing is scheduled to take place from 21-23 February staged at Bahrain International Circuit. It will be a three-day event that will kickstart the on-track action for the 2024 season. This session will allow the teams to complete their testing programmes, analyse their performance and make the necessary changes before the season-opening 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix on 29 February – 2 March.
Before pre-season testing starts, teams also get a day called a “filming day” or a “shakedown”. During this day, the drivers drive their new cars for up to 200 kilometres on the track to check if everything is working correctly before the real testing begins.
|Wednesday, 21 February, 2024
|12:00 pm – 9:00 pm IST
|Thursday, 22 February, 2024
|12:00 pm – 9:00 pm IST
|Friday, 23 February, 2024
|12:00 pm – 9:00 pm IST
Where to watch?
Exciting, race organisers have confirmed that fans will be able to witness the live action on the last two days of testing, i.e., February 22nd and 23rd.
However, the first day of testing will remain closed to the public. For those unable to attend in person, the event will likely be broadcast on Sky Sports F1 in the UK and Ireland, as well as on F1 TV in other regions where available.
Although the official television timings are yet to be announced.
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What to expect from F1 pre-season testing?
During pre-season testing, teams get their first chance to put their new cars through their paces. It’s not just about going fast; it’s about learning. Teams experiment with different car setups, test out new parts, and run various programs to get a feel for how their car performs in different conditions. So it can be considered a free practice 1 session but repeated three times over.
Now, imagine doing all this in Bahrain’s scorching heat. The weather forecast predicts temperatures above 20 degrees Celsius, reaching up to 24 degrees Celsius, especially on Friday, which is expected to be the hottest and sunniest day. However, don’t forget about those cloudy intervals forecasted for Wednesday and Thursday. With nine hours of track time each day, the temperatures may fluctuate, cooling down as the sun sets.
One thing teams won’t have to worry about is rain. Unlike Barcelona, where pre-season testing used to take place and rain was always a possibility, Bahrain offers a much drier environment.
This means the testing conditions will be more similar to what teams will face during the actual races, making it a more accurate gauge of performance.
Interpreting the results
In simple terms, lap times during testing don’t give you exact information about who’s fastest. That is because there are other factors, like different car setups, fuel amounts, engine settings, and tyre conditions, that can affect lap time.
Unlike qualifying, where teams push everything to the max for a single fast lap, testing is more about gathering data and trying things out.
Teams also sometimes hold back their true speed, a tactic known as “sandbagging,” so they don’t reveal their full potential before the season starts. This means the fastest times in testing might not reflect a team’s actual speed once the races begin.
Looking back at past years, Ferrari often topped the testing times between 2016 and 2019, but they didn’t win any championships during that period. And in 2014, Williams set the pace in testing, but they didn’t perform as well in the races compared to Mercedes.
However, despite these limitations, pre-season testing can still provide indications of which teams could emerge as formidable competitors. For example, Red Bull topped the testing times in recent years and went on to dominate the following seasons. So while testing isn’t the whole story, it can give us some hints about who might be the ones to watch once the racing begins.
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