Sergio Perez, Racing Point, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020

F1 to move pre-season testing from Spain to Bahrain

2021 F1 season

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Formula 1 teams have agreed to delay and relocate pre-season testing, RaceFans understands. The move comes as changes were announced to the opening rounds of the new season.

A revised 2021 F1 calendar was revealed today. The Australian Grand Prix has been postponed from mid-March to November, making the Bahrain Grand Prix on March 28th the first race of the new season.

Teams have therefore agreed to delay pre-season testing, which was due to take place at the Circuit de Catalunya at the beginning of the month. It will now be held in Bahrain from March 12th-14th. Last year’s pre-season tests were concluded by the end of February.

Bahrain last held pre-season test sessions in 2014, which followed another test at Jerez in Spain. While testing in Spain offers the advantage of being closer to the teams’ bases, weather conditions at the desert track are more reliable and predictable.

Teams will have just three days of running with their new cars ahead of the season, compared to six last year. However their cars are expected to be substantially similar to those raced last year as the technical regulations are largely unchanged and a ‘token’ system has been introduced limiting how far teams can alter their previous designs.

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 33 comments on “F1 to move pre-season testing from Spain to Bahrain”

    1. With only three days of running, having more predictable weather makes sense. The temperatures will be closer to those encountered in the season too.

      1. Doesn’t help you if you just changed engine supplier though…

        1. But that is/was your own choice.

          1. It wasn’t their own choice covid happened and the new rules were postponed.

    2. So they’ll be in Bahrain in for 3 weeks for 3 days of testing, eleven days of waiting and a single Grand Prix?

      Why test at all? Put two GPs on consecutive weekends in Bahrain, and add a couple of hours to the first race’s Friday practice. In and out in 10-11 days, 2 races in the books.

      Not even that young Spanish talent coming in at Alpine could cry foul (though, of course, he probably would) given his recent testing experience at the track.

      1. Why test? Well, it will be a lot more actual racing if the cars are working. Sure, the cars are on paper a carry-over from last year but I’m pretty sure every team have as many changes as they could get away with. And McLaren, for example, have a new engine to get to grips with. Without testing, and time to rectify any faults that show up, racing would just be a lottery of who could complete a race distance with unproved machinery.
        Also, three days are nothing. If a team have any problems or delays with production or shipping this year they could miss the entire test, proven by Williams previous misfortunes. If you as a fan don’t like testing, there’s always the option to, you know, just ignore it and tune in when the racing starts.

        1. Hey Robert, be kind of interesting though having a race or 2 where we don’t know who might finish, let alone who might win, instead of the more predictable Merc juggernaut chased part of the way by RBR.
          Be almost like going back to earlier eras of F1. Merc might still ace it, but sure make a change to put the frightners on the big teams.

        2. These cars were scheduled to run on March 19th, 2021, halfway around the world. I’m sure they could race on the same weekend just a few hours away.

          And yes, these cars will be partially new, but everyone is going to do a “film day” before travelling to Bahrain anyway, which should be enough to catch any major oversight and implement fixed in time for the first Grand Prix.

          Beyond that, as @f1johns already pointed out, any extra uncertainties would probably add to, rather than detract from the show.

      2. @proesterchen Too early for resorting to such measures as racing in the same place twice in the same season at this point.

        1. That’s true only if we believe that most of the rest of the calendar has a good chance of happening is (now newly re-)scheduled.

          Personally, I don’t rate many of the street races to be run in 2021 as particularly likely, much like the fly-aways that were already scuttled in 2020.

          I guess you could argue keeping Bahrain #2 in the back pocket for late Nov or early Dec as other locals inevitably fall away.

          1. @proesterchen Too early to judge Singapore, Jeddah, and the other ones scheduled for late-season at this point. Monaco, Baku, and Montreal could be at risk, though.

    3. Teams have therefore agreed to delay pre-season testing, which was due to take place at the Circuit de Catalunya at the beginning of the month.

      February I presume.
      Sounds like f1 was expecting this rather than go to the land down under.

      1. March! The beginning of the month the Grand Prix is scheduled.

    4. I’m okay with these days. Close enough to the latest possible combination of 14-16.

    5. Just unbooked my trip to Barcelona. My favorite moment of the year, seeing cars in Montmeló for the first time of the season on the cold morning of February.

      1. I agree it really sucks.

        One of my favorite moment of the year too. Stunning to see the F1 cars around this track on different corners.

        Let’s hope Bahrain preseason race track will be open to the fans!

    6. I live 15 min from the track. Yesterday was the coldest night in 20 years. It was 0ºC ambient temperature at 10 pm and stayed like that the whole night.

      So no wonder, really… a repeat of 2018 would be very bad for the teams, and a stupid risk overall, moving everyone during COVID only to stay in the garage because of the bad weather.

    7. I think all teams will split driver duties on each day. Best way to get the most out the new drivers.

    8. I think they should go with a double header again in Bahrain to kick off the season, then maybe look at a race in Qatar. Shouldn’t be an issue going to Qatar if they’ve spent a couple weeks in their bubbles in Bahrain.

      I’d look to get as many early season races in the books.

      1. @Dean F Would be redundant.

    9. “…a ‘token’ system has been introduced limiting how far teams can alter their previous designs.”

      I think from memory this may have more of an affect on teams who have to change engine parts (?) as compared to those who don’t. McLaren, I seem to recall (if anyone can remind me).

    10. Ferrari are the only new engine. Mercedes will only have an evolutionary improvement. So as long as McLaren can fit it in thier car it will be fine. It will probably give Danny Rick an advantage.

    11. Dave (@davewillisporter)
      12th January 2021, 19:35

      @dieterrencken @keithcollantine Sau Paulo Judge suspends F1 agreement over query of use of public funds. Bolsanaro’s games aren’t done yet. A piece on the way if poss?
      https://f1i.com/news/395560-sao-paulo-judge-suspends-f1-contract-with-interlagos.html

      1. I am aware of legal proceedings and had put out feelers with Brazilian and F1 contacts. It seems to be more a political kite-flying exercise aimed at getting contractual disclosures. Hence decided to wait for the five days to pass to see what the judge decides.

    12. “just three days of running with their new cars” … “cars are expected to be substantially similar to those raced last” … “a ‘token’ system has been introduced limiting how far teams can alter their previous designs”
      What is the point to race those cars?
      I suggest declaring Hamilton and Mercedes 2021 world champions with Bottas and Verstapen sharing 2-nd and 3-rd places.

      1. Well, yes… But who’s still watching F1 for the top 3? All the good stuff happens behind them.

        Anyone?

        1. Well I watch for top 3… I want all the good stuff happens between those 3.

          1. We all want it – but that’s not the reality

    13. I would like to see of course the pre-season testing in Bahrain but Spain is a really nice track, this change didn’t have to happen.

      1. @Triantafillos This change is good as I’ve been getting tired of Spain for this testing purpose.

    14. Since it is Bahrain, will we get a lecture about human rights at the pre-season testing, or only at the grand prix?

      1. Biden will be President all problems will be solved.

      2. I can lecture you now if you want.

        Torture and the ‘disappearance’ of Bahrainis that speak out against the government is common. Migrant workers are exploited and women do not have the same rights as men.

        But we shouldn’t think about such things as we watch a sporting event that exists solely for the Bahraini government to peddle an artificial view of their country, should we?!

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