The Jerez test preview: Everything you need to know on the first winter session
The race to the first grand prix of 2013 starts here
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 04/02/13 9:37pm
From Tuesday morning to the close of play on Friday afternoon, the majority of the grid's teams will be putting their brand new cars through their paces around the perennial testing venue as they get first true glimpses of their challengers' potential and begin to iron out the inevitable teething problems.
Sky Sports F1 will be following the four days of action every step of the way with our teams across the platforms at Jerez ensuring you are kept right up to date.
Here's a rundown of all the key points you need to know...
Who's running at Jerez?
While six teams (Lotus, McLaren, Force India, Ferrari, Sauber and Red Bull) have already shown off their respective 2013 challengers in separate launch events in recent days, and all of those new cars will be in action this week, Jerez will be the venue for four more teams to unveil their new machines.
The first two of those - Mercedes and Toro Rosso - are at the track on Monday afternoon to launch their W03 and STR8 respectively, while Caterham and Marussia will roll out their respective CT03 and MR02 on Tuesday morning as the track opens.
Williams will also be in action, but are set to run a development version of last year's FW34 at the first test - albeit painted in the 2013 livery. The definitive new car will instead be launched at Barcelona in two weeks' time.
Who's not at Jerez?
In addition to Williams' 2013 car being absent from the opening week's action, there's a noticeable absentee on the driver front.
Last year's championship runner-up Fernando Alonso, no less, has decided to delay his first appearance of the winter until the first Barcelona test, leaving Jerez driving duties in the Ferrari F2013 to Felipe Massa and new arrival Pedro de la Rosa.
Force India have confirmed their as yet unconfirmed second driver won't be revealed until after this week's test, while Marussia may also follow suit in running just one race driver.
Who's driving when?
Red Bull: Mark Webber (Days One and Two), Sebastian Vettel (Days Three and Four).
Ferrari: Felipe Massa (Days One, Two and Three), Pedro de la Rosa (Day Four).
McLaren: Jenson Button (Day One), rest of schedule TBC.
Lotus: Romain Grosjean (Days One and Two), Kimi Raikkonen (Days Three and Four).
Mercedes: Nico Rosberg (Days One and Three), Lewis Hamilton (Days Two and Four).
Force India: Paul di Resta (Days One, Two and Three), James James Rossiter (Days Two and Three), Jules Bianchi (Day Four).
Williams: Pastor Maldonado (Days One and Two), Valtteri Bottas (Days Three and Four).
Toro Rosso: Daniel Ricciardo (Day One), rest of schedule TBC.
Marussia: Max Chilton (Day One), rest of schedule TBC.
What's on Sky Sports?
This very website is your destination for rolling live updates from the first four days of 2013 testing via our team of reporters trackside, with our interactive commentary service to include the latest timesheets, analysis, pictures and the latest video.
On Sky Sports News, Rachel Brookes will be providing regular live updates to viewers during each day of the test along with interviews with all the key figures from around the paddock.
Each evening from Tuesday to Friday at 9pm the Sky Sports F1 channel will be the destination for an end-of-day round-up show featuring a compilation of interviews from the track.
If that's not enough then straight after that show intrepid pitlane reporter Ted Kravitz will be bringing you one of his legendary Notebooks which needless to say will bring you right up to date on all the inside stories you need to know about from the test.
Although the circuit in southwestern Spain has not staged a Grand Prix since the infamous Schumacher/Villeneuve title decider of 1997, Jerez remains a staple on the winter schedule and for the second straight season hosts the first of the now three pre-season tests.
It's location in the holiday hotspot of Andalusia means the key factor F1's teams require for any week of testing - sustained sunshine - is all-but guaranteed. Indeed, the region's tourist office is rather proud to promote the fact that the city of Jerez enjoys 3,200 hours of sunshine a year.
Aptly therefore, glorious sunshine is currently forecast for all four days of the test with temperature highs in the mid-teens all week.
The track itself is popular with engineers trying to assess the early performances of their cars due to the fact the 2.75-mile, 13-corner track features the full range of slow, medium and high-speed corners - in both directions - thus ensuring the challengers get a good aerodynamic workout.