There seems to be quite a hullabaloo surrounding the fact that the final two pre-season test sessions are taking place at the Sakhir Circuit in Bahrain. While it’s true that in recent years all winter testing has taken place in Europe, going further afield used to be quite commonplace for Formula 1 teams.
Not wishing to cast a cloud over the coming tests, which run from 19 to 22 February and again from 27 February to 2 March, the last time some teams tried testing at Sakhir pre-season, back in 2009, the first day was affected by fog and the final two by a terrible sand storm! Let’s hope the eleven teams have better luck next week.
Winter testing in warm climes is not a new idea and back in the Eighties the teams would head for Rio de Janeiro and test there almost until it was time to hold the Brazilian GP as the opening round of the season. Life was simpler then, whereas today, with a 19 race calendar to accommodate, sending everyone off testing to Bahrain is quite a logistical challenge for everyone, especially as there won’t be much time in between the end of the final test and the trip down under for the first race in Melbourne.
At Toro Rosso, the planning for the two Bahrain tests is as complex as it would be for a Grand Prix and definitely more difficult to organise than a short hop down to Jerez or Barcelona. We will be sending 25 tonnes of equipment to Sakhir with nearly all of it then moving straight down to Australia, where it will find a further three tonnes of material joining it directly from Italy. The car that will be used over a total of eight days testing in Bahrain, will return to Italy before heading down to the Antipodes.
In the case of a five day gap between two European tests, the bulk of the team personnel would return home to Faenza in between, but with the longer distance involved flying to Manama, the vast majority of our crew will stay out there, but this won’t be a beach holiday by any means, as there is bound to be plenty of work to do in terms of car preparation. The fact the venue remains the same makes life slightly easier as the garage and equipment can all stay as it is.
How do we expect to get on at the tests? Clearly, after the first four days in Jerez, that is a complete mystery. Suffice to say that everyone in Faenza, Bicester and Viry, the latter being home to our Power Unit supplier, has been working flat out. For the first of the two tests in the desert, Daniil Kvyat will drive on the first and third days, with Jean-Eric Vergne at the wheel for days two and four.