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F1 pre-season testing 2024: When it starts and how to watch

The new F1 season is on the horizon with teams set to travel to Bahrain for pre-season testing, where fans will get a first glimpse into who may – or may not – be competitive.  

Drivers will once again kickstart their F1 campaigns at Bahrain International Circuit with pre-season testing on the 21-23 February in the first bit of track action for 2024.  

This year’s testing is just a week before the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix on the 29 February-2 March, where much of what’s learnt from testing may come into play. 

Will Red Bull once again be the team to beat? Is Max Verstappen on for a fourth consecutive world championship? Or, can McLaren build on its momentum from 2023 and close the gap to Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes

Many more questions will present themselves, while much of the grid will remain the same but with two new team names as AlphaTauri has rebranded as RB and Sauber has ditched its Alfa Romeo guise with Stake backing.

So, with excitement firmly building for the upcoming F1 season, here is everything to know about pre-season testing where fans will also get their first glimpses into how the new 2024 car liveries look on track.  

Sauber C44

Sauber C44

Photo by: Sauber F1 Team

When is F1’s 2024 pre-season testing? 

2am ET (10am local time) 

11am ET (7pm local time) 

2am ET (10am local time) 

11am ET (7pm local time) 

2am ET (10am local time) 

11am ET (7pm local time) 

F1 will stage its pre-season test at Bahrain International Circuit for a fourth consecutive year, where teams have just three days of running to complete their different testing programs ahead of the season-opener at the same venue. 

Having Bahrain as the pre-season test venue allows F1 teams to complete track action in representative hot, dry and sunny conditions. It also keeps travel costs down and remains in line with F1’s pledge to be more environmentally friendly, as teams no longer have to fly from pre-season testing to the opening grand prix. 

However, before pre-season testing a team also undertakes a filming day – also known as a shakedown – where up to 200km of track time can be completed just to make sure everything is working properly with its new car.  

Who is driving in F1 pre-season testing?

The F1 driver market for 2024 was very quiet as each team maintained its line-up from the 2023 season. The biggest news story over the off-season was actually a driver transfer for 2025 as Lewis Hamilton will leave Mercedes for Ferrari, which is expected to be one of many moves for next year as several contracts expire at the end of 2024.  

Although the same drivers are partaking in pre-season this year, many are on track at different times with one side of a team’s garage taking the morning session and the other heading out post-lunch. However, the specifics of which F1 driver is out when are yet to be revealed.  

Although the same drivers are partaking in pre-season this year, many are on track at different times with one side of a team’s garage taking the morning session and the other heading out post-lunch. However, the specifics of which F1 driver is out when are yet to be revealed.  

What happens at F1 pre-season testing?  

F1 pre-season testing gives a team its first opportunity to run different car set-ups, parts and programs in preparation for the upcoming campaign.

It is less about speed and more about gaining knowledge on the new car by completing as many laps as possible, where teams are free to run any set-up that they wish. So, think of it like a Free Practice 1 session but across an entire day times three. 

Night lighting and the Bahrain flag

Night lighting and the Bahrain flag

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

F1 pre-season testing on TV  

The official television timings are yet to be announced but, as per last year, F1 is expected to broadcast the entire Bahrain test on Sky Sports F1 in the United Kingdom and Ireland, plus on F1 TV in countries where it is available.

Motorsport.com will be running a live text commentary on the F1 pre-season test at Bahrain International Circuit.  

F1 pre-season testing weather forecast 

Bahrain is expected to be hot and sunny during F1’s 2024 pre-season test, with temperatures regularly above 20 degrees Celsius, but not straying higher than 24 degrees Celsius.

Friday is expected to be the hottest and sunniest day of running, while cloudy intervals are predicted for Wednesday and Thursday. 

However, there are nine hours between the start of the day and when track time finishes, so temperatures may vary throughout and become a lot cooler as the sun begins to drop. 

There are also very low chances of rain which makes it more representative of the opening grand prix than when Barcelona held pre-season testing, because temperatures in the Spanish city would rarely go above 15 degrees Celsius in February. 

How accurate is F1 pre-season testing? 

It is only testing, so lap times must not be taken as a definite indicator into what the pecking order will be.

This is because lap times set in testing are obscured by multiple variables which include different car set-ups, fuel loads, engine modes, tyre compound and tyre life, so it is not like in qualifying where teams have everything cranked up for one lap. 

Sandbagging is also common in pre-season testing, and refers to when a team prefers to hide its potential so that it doesn’t show everyone its full pace before the opening grand prix. This can all be seen in the data below, which lists the fastest lap in testing compared to the equivalent pole position time at the same circuit later in the year.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

What happened between 2016 and 2019 best explains why testing is not the be-all and end-all because Ferrari topped it every year during that time, but the Scuderia did not win one of those world championships.

There is also 2014, where Felipe Massa topped testing for Williams yet the British outfit scored less than half of constructors’ champions Mercedes’ points tally that year. 

However, pre-season testing does still offer some indication into who might be the strongest, because Red Bull has topped the last two before dominating both of those campaigns – even though Charles Leclerc took pole and victory in Bahrain in 2022. 

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This article was originally published by a www.motorsport.com . Read the Original article here. .

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