The Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team completed a busy programme on the first day of 2020 pre-season testing, gathering valuable data and accumulating over 800 kilometres at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya with both Valtteri and Lewis driving the new car today.
“I’m very impressed that we could start at 9am, going straight out and doing some longer runs without any issues and really execute our plan for the morning perfectly. We could get everything done which is just impressive considering how much work goes into our cars. In the morning when it was still relatively cold, we focused mostly on aero tests with rakes on the car. Later on we did some work on set-up changes – bigger changes than we would normally do on a race weekend when it’s more about fine-tuning. In testing you have the chance to do that and see how the car reacts to those big changes. I had a very good feeling, the car feels good and fast, but I’m sure we can make it a lot faster. It’s been a really nice starting point, but it’s early days, so it doesn’t mean a whole lot.”
“It’s been a good day and a really good start for all of us, considering we had a long break. So to come back and clock in over 170 laps just shows how hard everyone has been working over the winter. We will just take it one step at a time, getting good feedback from the car. We have a lot of data to download and analyse and we’ve got to keep pushing on. A huge thank you to everyone back in Brackley and Brixworth for the incredible effort that’s gone in over the winter to make sure we come here and have a car that’s reliable to start with so we can get this mileage done. I hope everyone back at the factory is happy with how the day went and we’re just going to keep churning out as many miles as possible.”
That was a very positive start to our winter testing campaign, with both drivers able to get a very decent amount of work done through the day. We were able to tick several of the procedural items off our list that we need to get done before Melbourne and also run through some of the main set-up items on suspension settings today. We’re happy that alongside the good reliability we’ve shown today, both drivers have reported the car to have sweet handling characteristics and are looking forward to leaning on it a bit harder over the next several days of testing.
What impact does the shortened pre-season test have for the teams?
For the 2020 season, F1 has reduced pre-season testing from eight days to six. While six days might still sound like plenty – especially if you see cars putting in lap after lap without any obvious reliability issues – bear in mind that track running is limited to eight hours a day, four in the morning, four in the afternoon after a one-hour lunch break. So, teams effectively have only 48 hours on-track to test their cars. That’s not a whole lot, considering that our F1 car consists of over 10,000 parts, the vast majority of which have been changed and upgraded for the new season. Making sure that all systems work as intended while also building an understanding of how to extract the maximum performance from the new car makes for very long days at the track and is the reason that the lights in the garage aren’t switched off for testing. There’s always more work to do, which is why F1 teams work with a special night shift crew during pre-season tests to maximise the work that can be done in Barcelona. But the shortened pre-season test doesn’t just impact the programme of the team at the track, it also has a massive influence on the work the team has done at the factories over the past weeks and months. In order to make sure that the test in Barcelona runs as smoothly as possible, both Brixworth and Brackley have put in a lot of effort to try and test every single system of the car to reduce reliability risks as much as possible.