It has been announced that pre-season testing for the FIA Formula 1 World Championship, which is due to be held at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya over the coming weeks, will be treated as an official Formula 1 event for the first time.
The on-track action will get underway on Wednesday 19 February, and run for six days. There are two sessions with the first ending on Friday 21, and the final session running from 26-28 February.
Alongside the decision to make testing an official event comes numerous changes in regards to how the sessions are run. One notable change is the access given to fans and members of the media. Teams will no longer be able to hide their cars from view behind vanity screens, except in instances where they have been damaged in a crash or suffered a technical fault.
The online platform, F1 TV Pro, will broadcast testing coverage from 9-1pm, and 2-6pm (CET). F1 TV will also be producing on-demand content, available to those who subscribe to F1 TV Access.
F1 digital presenter Will Buxton will analyse the performance of the teams alongside guests in a feature called “Tech Talk“. Buxton will also be hosting “Paddock Pass“, with a focus on behind-the-scenes content such as news, interviews and as well as insight and analysis.
Once the final chequered flag has dropped on testing, former F1 driver Jolyon Palmer, who competed in a total of 35 Grands Prix will assess how testing went, giving his predictions for the start of the season.
Sky in the UK and Italy will hold exclusive rights to broadcast the coverage, alongside F1 TV. It will allow F1 and the FIA to test systems intended to be used during race weekends.
Improved live timing will also be available this year, allowing viewers to compare drivers’ performances on a lap by lap basis, through time segmentation and the existing three-sector visualisation system.
Full coverage will now be available to a total of 77 countries worldwide.