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The Final Countdown

February 27, 2013

On the eve of the last, and most crucial, pre-season test of 2013, the teams are busy working away, readying their cars to start running tomorrow. Many will be at the track until late tonight as parts arrive, hot off the press, so to speak in an attempt to gain the last few tenths available before the freight heads off to Australia in a little over a week’s time.
With the test being in Barcelona, a track that everyone knows and one that’s, in Formula One’s relative terms, local to all of the teams, it’s normal for a steady stream of vans and trucks to arrive across the course of these next few days, delivering the latest upgrades to the cars.
Depending on the parts and their manufacturing schedule, some may not see them until the very last minute this week, but even if a team can get half a day’s running on something that’s due to be used at the first race, it’s incredibly valuable to them.

Expect to see teams putting miles on their latest chassis, although each one comes from the same mould and is built up to the same spec, they can all throw up their own little idiosyncrasies and just because the first two may have run smoothly at Jerez and at Barcelona’s last test, that’s no guarantee that chassis ‘3’, which will go to Australia as a spare, will do the same. In this era of very limited testing, the teams want to try and give as many parts as possible at least some track time before they’re unleashed at a race weekend.
Most use various static rigs to put miles onto some parts at the factory, with safety critical items like a new brake pedal for example, having a higher ‘sign off’ mileage before they’ll be released to go racing than something like a barge board. A new exhaust may require something in the region of 900 track kilometres before the team, or engine manufacturer deem it ‘proven’ and race ready.
In the past of course, everyone was out testing each week in-between races, so it was never a problem to rack up the mileage on things like this, but now, if items aren’t signed off this week, the only other opportunity will be on Fridays at the first few Grand Prix.

Over the course of the test, we expect to see most people, particularly the larger outfits, trying new things with exhaust solutions, Melbourne spec aero packages and of course continuing their work on the new Pirelli range. Passive drag reduction systems also seem to be something more people are trying to perfect this season.
We’ll see full race teams in attendance, as race weekend simulations are carried out to run through the various procedures for qualifying and racedays. Plenty of live pitstops too, this is most likely to happen later in the days during the crossover period between day and night shift guys attendance at the track. It’s the last chance to carry out live stops before Melbourne and that’s crucial for the guys in the crew as well as the drivers, particularly the numerous F1 rookies this season and as we know, it’s an area that can gain or lose positions on Sunday afternoons.

I’m really looking forward to seeing how this test pans out and will be at the track on all four days to keep a close eye on proceedings. Follow me on Twitter for regular updates throughout the week.

Marc Priestley
Twitter: @f1elvis


From → Formula One

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