But for this year the teams agreed to move three days of pre-season testing into the gap between the opening ‘flyaway’ races and the start of the ‘European season’.
Starting tomorrow the teams will be running at the Mugello circuit outside Florence in Italy.
It’s home ground for Ferrari – less than two hours’ drive from their factory – and the Scuderia have a lot of work to do to get on the front runners’ pace.
The F2012 has been 1.5% slower than the fastest cars over the four races so far this year, which translates to around 1.2 seconds for a lap of Mugello. At best they appear to have the sixth-quickest car in F1 at the moment.
Last week team principal Stefano Domenicali said not all the changes that will be on the car at the next race in Spain may be run at Mugello. It is likely the changes will include revised exhausts aimed at improving the flow around the rear of the car to increase downforce in a manner already being exploited by other teams.
Ferrari know the test is a precious opportunity to turn their season around. Fernando Alonso has done sterling work to stay within ten points of the leader in the drivers’ championship, but a major step forward in performance is needed if he is to remain a title contender.
Other teams have expressed doubts about the value of the test, particularly as Mugello offers few similarities with many tracks on the F1 calendar. McLaren are not sending either of their race drivers and Jenson Button said they will not be bringing major improvements for the MP4-27.
Lotus, Force India, Williams and Caterham will also use the opportunity to give their test drivers some running.
Red Bull made a breakthrough with their exhaust set-up in Bahrain and further developments in this area are likely for the world championship leaders.
For Marussia the session offers them the first chance to test their MR01 outside of a race weekend. However HRT will pass on the opportunity, saying last week they were too busy moving headquarters to attend.
As always F1 Fanatic Live will be running throughout the three-day test.
Mugello test driver line-up
|Team||Tuesday 1st||Wednesday 2nd||Thursday 3rd|
|Red Bull||Mark Webber||Mark Webber/Sebastian Vettel||Sebastian Vettel|
|McLaren||Oliver Turvey/Gary Paffett||Gary Paffett||Oliver Turvey|
|Ferrari||Fernando Alonso||Felipe Massa||Fernando Alonso|
|Mercedes||Nico Rosberg/Michael Schumacher||Michael Schumacher||Nico Rosberg|
|Lotus||Jerome D’Ambrosio||Kimi Raikkonen||Romain Grosjean|
|Force India||Jules Bianchi||Paul di Resta||Nico Hulkenberg|
|Sauber||Kamui Kobayashi||Kamui Kobayashi||Sergio Perez|
|Toro Rosso||Jean-Eric Vergne||Jean-Eric Vergne/Daniel Ricciardo||Daniel Ricciardo|
|Williams||Valtteri Bottas||Pastor Maldonado||Bruno Senna|
|Caterham||Rodolfo Gonzalez||Vitaly Petrov||Heikki Kovalainen|
|Marussia||Charles Pic||Charles Pic/Timo Glock||Timo Glock|
There are 15 turns on the 5.245km (3.259-mile), clockwise track.
The quickest lap of the circuit by an F1 car is Rubens Barrichello’s 1’18.704 in a Ferrari F2004 in 2004.
The last F1 test with current machinery was in January 2009, with Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa driving for Ferrari. The test was wet for the first three days before drying on the final day, allowing Massa to set a quickest lap of 1’23.981.
Later that year Schumacher drove a 2007-specification Ferrari at Mugello (pictured top) as he considered making a return to the team to replace the injured Massa.
Mugello test weather forecast
Temperatures are forecast to rise from the low to mid teens during the three-day test. There is a chance of rain on the first day of the test but the following days are expected to stay dry.
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Image © Ferrari spa/Ercole Colombo