The 2021 season is finally launching with pre-season testing in Bahrain kicking off today.
With testing reduced to three days, the pressure is on for teams to jam their schedules to ensure they gain as much information from this weekend as possible.
With both new teams and new drivers present on the grid this season, it’s no wonder fans are ecstatic to get a glimpse of this year’s potential challenges.
Today, Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo get behind the wheel of the MCL35M, to see what the new machine can really do.
Although some spectators believe timings aren’t important during testing, this year, McLaren’s Racing Director, Andrea Stella, pinpoints their most important aspects of the weekend’s schedule.
“This test is important because it provides us with the opportunity to familiarise Lando and Daniel with the new car, further integrate Daniel into the team, and continue the excellent collaboration with our colleagues from Mercedes AMG HPP.
“It also gives us the chance to check the reliability and performance of the MCL35M.
“While it will be interesting to see how all the teams perform, we will have to wait until the first race to have a clear picture of the competitive order.
“Only three days of pre-season testing this year, compared to six in 2020 and eight in 2019, means that maximising efficiency and quality of learning throughout the test will be essential.
“And, with the first race of the season also taking place at Bahrain International Circuit, what is learnt during this test is directly relevant for the season opener.”
The team has a packed schedule ahead, revealing that from day one, they have a ream of things to get through.
“The target for the first day is to confirm all the main systems on the car are working as expected and to establish a good baseline,” explained Andrea.
“This will include car systems checks, validation of aerodynamic performance, and familiarising the drivers on operations.
“All systems checks should be completed on the second day. We’ll then focus a bit more on performance for the remainder of the test.
“This will involve a combination of short runs and long runs with a variety of tyre compounds.”
Pre-season testing takes place from March 12 – 14 this year, with the season opener due on March 28 at Bahrain International Circuit.