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F1 Testing: What is it and why does it matter for the 2024 season

F1 Testing: What is it and why does it matter for the 2024 season

F1 Testing: What is it and why does it matter for the 2024 season

F1 Testing: What is it and why does it matter for the 2024 season

2024 F1 pre-season testing is officially underway in Bahrain! Learn what it is, why teams do it, and if timesheets mean anything when all is said and done.

Excitement and anticipation is in the air at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, as F1 teams gear up for the longest season yet. With a record-breaking 24 races on the calendar, every detail matters - and that's where pre-season testing comes in.

Teams already started testing their 2024 challengers on Wednesday, February 21, with the final day being Friday, February 23. This crucial period involves a lot more than just banking practice laps; it's a chance for teams to test new parts, fine-tune their machines, and gather data before the real competition begins.

So, what is pre-season testing in F1 and why is it so crucial for teams and drivers? Let's find out.

READ MORE: F1 testing 2024: Dates, times and how to watch live

What is pre-season testing in F1?

After spending months designing and developing brand-new cars, each team gets three precious days one week before the first race of the new season to put their machines through their paces on a real track.

This helps teams gather data on aerodynamics, tyres, engine performance, reliability, and overall handling, as well as uncover any hidden problems before they cause trouble in an actual race.

Drivers, too, have a vital first opportunity to get to know their new cars. They're on a mission to understand the car's strengths and weaknesses, extracting every ounce of performance it has to offer them.

But it's not only that. Testing gives teams an idea of how their cars perform on track compared to simulations.

Engineers apply a flow-vis paint - a mixture of fluorescent powder and light oil - to specific parts of the car they want to investigate. As the car speeds up and takes corners, the airflow interacts with the paint and causes it to streak and dry in patterns.

These patterns reveal crucial information about how the air flows over the car's surface, highlighting areas of separation, turbulence, and efficiency.

Another key tool in testing is the aero rake, a metal structure covered in sensors that measures air pressure around the car. This data, combined with the flow-vis paint analysis, provides a comprehensive picture of how airflow interacts with critical components of the car. It's a reality check, validating the results seen in CFD (computational fluid dynamics) or wind tunnel testing.

READ MORE: F1 Testing 2024: Confirmed driver lineups for all three days in Bahrain

Are timesheets important in testing?

While everyone wants to be fast, the main focus here is on gathering data and understanding the car, not setting blistering lap times. And while seeing who consistently clocks competitive times can give hints about potential frontrunners, it is important to remember that these times don't tell the full story.

That's because teams test with different fuel loads and different tyre compounds. Also keep in mind that some teams might be sandbagging, which means they intentionally hold back their true pace and performance until the real action begins.

F1 pre-season testing FAQs

When and where is the 2024 F1 testing taking place?

The testing takes place at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir from February 21 to 23, 2024. Each day runs from 7am to 10pm local time.

How can I watch the F1 pre-season testing?

Various broadcasters will provide blanket coverage, including Sky Sports F1 (UK), F1 TV Pro (worldwide), and local networks in certain regions. Check your local listings for specific details.

Who are the drivers participating in pre-season testing in 2024?

All 20 F1 drivers will be behind the wheel for their respective teams, including veterans Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso, as well as rising stars like Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri.

READ MORE: F1 Schedule 2024: Full calendar with all you need to know about every grand prix

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