F1 2016 launch season taking shape ahead of Barcelona tests
Teams leaving new car reveals until eve of first Barcelona test
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 20/02/16 3:33pm
F1's 2016 launch season is starting to take shape with most car unveiling dates now confirmed.
Ahead of a later start to the truncated winter testing programme this year on February 22, teams are keeping their new cars under wraps until either the opening morning of the first Barcelona test or the days immediately before.
With the days of big set-piece launch events increasingly proving a glitzy excess of the past, 2016's car unveilings are falling into one of two camps: an online-only event or a pitlane reveal at testing.
McLaren have confirmed an online launch for their MP4-31 the day before testing begins, Sunday February 21, with Ferrari also planning an online reveal for their 2016 challenger. As expected, the Scuderia have confirmed this will take place two days before McLaren on Friday February 19.
Williams, however, jumped both of their rivals by launching their new FW38 online before Ferrari's launch.
The build-up to the official start of testing at Barcelona on the Monday is poised be especially busy.
Red Bull and Manor have indicated they will pull the wraps off their respective 2016 cars in the Circuit de Catalunya pitlane before the test begins at 8am UK time.
Newcomers Haas will reveal their new car on Sunday February 21 with particular anticipation surrounding the reveal of the American team's first F1 challenger.
However, true to their reputation of doing things differently, Red Bull have already revealed a new look for 2016 at a livery launch.
World champions Mercedes have traditionally held straightforward pitlane reveals since their return to team ownership in 2010 and are therefore likely to follow suit with the W07 on February 22. Force India have also opted for a straightforward rollout.
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Sauber, meanwhile, have delayed their new C35 to the second and final test, which begins on March 1. The Swiss team, whose financial problems have proved long-running, have attributed the wait to the fact the start of the new racing season was brought forward to March 20, having initially been scheduled for early April.
Renault, who hosted a launch event in in Paris on February 3, are currently the only team to have revealed their new 2016 car. However, with the event focused on marking Renault's return to F1 as a fully-fledged team, their new car is expected to be heavily revised before the start of the season while the livery may also be redesigned.
Toro Rosso have confirmed their new STR11 will run in an interim all-blue paint job at the opening test, with a livery reveal planned for week two. Manor the only one of F1's 11 teams yet to name their drivers for the new season.
2016 CAR LAUNCHES
February 3: Renault RS16, Paris
February 17: Red Bull 2016 livery, London
February 19: Williams FW38, online
February 19: Ferrari, online
February 21: McLaren MP4-31, online
February 22: Mercedes W07, Barcelona (TBC)
February 22: Red Bull RB12, Barcelona
February 22: Haas, Barcelona
February 22: Manor MRT05, Barcelona
February 22: Force India VJM09, Barcelona
March 1: Sauber C35, Barcelona
The first Barcelona test starts on Monday February 22 and the Sky Sports F1 Digital team will be providing live commentary from dawn until dusk on all four days while Sky Sports News HQ will also deliver live updates from trackside.