Following the launches of Team Lotus, Sauber and Lotus Renault yesterday, and Ferrari this past Friday, the 2011 Formula One season kicks off in earnest tomorrow in Valencia, Spain with the first on-track running of grand prix machinery since...
2011 Formula One testing: Valencia preview
Following the launches of Team Lotus, Sauber and Lotus Renault yesterday, and Ferrari this past Friday, the 2011 Formula One season kicks off in earnest tomorrow in Valencia, Spain with the first on-track running of grand prix machinery since November last year.
With Mercedes, Torro Rosso and defending champions Red Bull set to unveil their new designs before the action begins, and McLaren, Williams, Force India, Virgin and HRT running interim cars, the stage is set.
The paddock is awaiting Adrian Newey's next design for Red Bull and following its launch, the RB7 will get it's first run with defending champion Sebastien Vettel behind the wheel.
McLaren, who will present their new MP4/26 on Friday, are banking on the extra time allocated to fine tune it based on their 2010 car with changes. They hope will pay off when Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button get their hands on the 2011 car at Jerez test days. Test driver Gary Paffett will run the first day before handing over to his English teammates on Wednesday and Thursday.
Ferrari will be keen to establish themselves as front runners from the moment their engine cracks the Spanish morning air with Fernando Alonso undertaking the driving on the first two days. Fillipe Massa is scheduled to get his first run of the F150 on Thursday in a car the Brazilian hopes is more suited to his driving style as he fights to keep his seat with the team next year.
Will Mercedes be able to elevate themselves to the same heights enjoyed by its predecessor Brawn GP after a poor 2010 season? Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg will be hoping that to be the case as they aim to fly the flag for Germany while Renault's Vitaly Petrov will debut the R31 prior to handing over to Robert Kubica on Wednesday and Thursday.
Force India's new signing Paul de Resta will share driving duties with test driver Nico Hulkenberg who will run the car in the morning before handing over to the British rookie. Sauber's new C30 will be in the hands of Kamui Kobayashi, who took it out today for a shakedown, while Torro Rosso' Jamie Algersuari will be debuting the all-new STR6.
Not due to run the VR-02 until the next official test at Jerez on February 10th, Virgin will be represented by Jerome d'Ambrosio in an updated VR-01 while new signing Narin Karthekeyan will be putting an interim HRT F110 through it's paces as the perennial back markers aim to move off the back of the grid.
Despite unveiling their new car, Team Lotus will not be running tomorrow, choosing instead to put the T128 through it's paces in the hands of Hekki Kovalinen on Wednesday.
Though lap times will be of little significance as the teams bed in their new machinery and concentrate on various setup programmes, a fair assessment of where some teams stand in the pecking order is still assured but it wont really be until the F1 circus hits Jerez next week that a clearer picture will emerge.
But for now, here's to the start of the 2011 season.