Updated: Jun 19, 2019
Formula One. It is the world’s loudest and most expensive circus. Each year, twelve teams take 24 cars around the globe and race them for the motorsport’s top prize, the Formula One World Driver’s and Constructor’s Championships. But no one just arrives at the top. It takes practice, preparation, skill and just a little bit of luck to get there.
Winter testing is a vital part of that formula. In recent years, the team’s ability to test the cars has been restricted to cut costs and even the playing field between competitors. But the sport’s governing body does allocate a period in February and early March where the teams may run their cars to put them through their paces. And do they ever. Multiple race simulations. Engine mapping scenarios. Testing tyres and how much the rubber degrades over the course of a short, or long run among many other trials and of course trying on new parts to the aerodynamic package. It is all incredibly technical, and incredibly secretive. The teams close their doors and no journalist is allowed within sight of the cars. It’s like a cold war spy game in the paddock of an F1 test.
From February 21-24, Circuit de Catalunya in Montmelo, Spain (just north of Barcelona) opened it’s gates and became the proving ground for the second (of three) tests leading up the 2012 Formula One season.