F1 Testing: 2019 season preparations begin at Barcelona
All 10 new-for-2019 cars will run at first week of Barcelona Testing; Watch five hours of live coverage each afternoon on Sky Sports F1
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 18/02/19 7:27am
Formula 1 2019 begins in earnest on Monday with the first of eight days of winter testing at Barcelona, as Mercedes' rivals look for any early clues they've closed the gap to the world champions.
The new-look F1 cars, overhauled to help improve overtaking, will take to the track for the opening four-day test at the Circuit de Catalunya, which runs to Thursday evening.
The second and final test starts next Tuesday ahead of the season-opening Australian GP on March 15-17.
Can Mercedes be stopped in 2019?
Mercedes have won a record-equalling five consecutive championship doubles, but no team in the sport's history has managed six on the spin.
While that is therefore the obvious challenge for the Brackley team, with Lewis Hamilton going for his own sixth world crown, perennial rivals Ferrari and Red Bull, now Honda-powered, will hope to finally overhaul them.
Red Bull's first winter running Honda engines is set to prove a particular point of early interest, with their new Japanese suppliers encouraged by performance improvements during 2018 when they powered Toro Rosso.
Renault, who now just power their own team and McLaren, are hopeful of their own step forward to close on F1's 'Big Three' in their first year with Daniel Ricciardo at the team.
With plans to reveal their new RS19 car put on hold last week, Renault had admitted their build schedule had been "tight" for the start of Monday's running, but they completed a shakedown in Barcelona on Saturday.
Alfa Romeo, the former Sauber team, are holding a photocall with their new car in the pit lane before testing begins having run a shakedown in Valentine's Day-themed livery last week.
With Racing Point under wealthy new owners, McLaren determined to kick-start a revival, and Alfa Romeo team aiming to carry the improved form of last year into the new season, 2019 promises varying fascinating sub-plots.
Back to Barcelona
Despite the snow and rain which hampered the start of testing last year, F1 returns to its favoured testing ground on the outskirts of Barcelona with the Circuit de Catalunya again the exclusive winter venue for pre-season's running.
The good news for teams is that this February's weather is forecast to be far more favourable, with sunny intervals and temperature highs in the mid-teens. The start of the morning sessions, however, tend to be notoriously chilly.
The circuit's mix of corners, from the fast sweeps of the first sector to the slow-speed twisty chicane at the end of the lap, make it the ideal European venue to put a new F1 car through its paces.
The teams have huge data banks of past data from which to compare their new cars' performances and baseline set-ups from which to work from while they get their new machines up to speed.
Barcelona's other advantage is its convenience: with the city just a two-hour flight from the UK, and the circuit a short drive from the airport, teams can ship in new and replacement parts to run on their cars the very next day.
How to follow F1 Testing with Sky Sports
Live television coverage on Sky Sports F1 of the first pre-season test at Barcelona will begin on Monday at 1pm and will continue until 6pm.
Sky F1 will also be broadcasting live coverage on Tuesday February 19, Wednesday February 20 and Thursday February 21 between 1pm and 6pm.
Our live review show, Welcome to F1 2019, will begin at approximately 5pm on every night of the test.
F1 winter testing: Week One line-ups
|Day One||Day Two||Day Three||Day Four|
|Ferrari||Sebastian Vettel||Charles Leclerc||Sebastian Vettel||Charles Leclerc|
|Red Bull||Max Verstappen||Pierre Gasly||Max Verstappen||Pierre Gasly|
|Haas||Romain Grosjean||Kevin Magnussen||Grosjean/Fittipaldi||Fittipaldi/Magnussen|
|McLaren||Carlos Sainz||Lando Norris||Carlos Sainz||Lando Norris|
|Racing Point||Sergio Perez||Lance Stroll||Sergio Perez||Lance Stroll|
|Alfa Romeo||Kimi Raikkonen||Antonio Giovinazzi||Kimi Raikkonen||Antonio Giovinazzi|
|Toro Rosso||Daniil Kvyat||Alexander Albon||Daniil Kvyat||Alexander Albon|
Selected highlights from the day's broadcast will be available on Sky Go, On Demand and the Sky Sports digital products.
A dawn-to-dusk live blog will also be available on the Sky Sports digital products for every day of winter testing, along with features, insight and reviews from Barcelona.
Regular updates from Barcelona will be published on our social accounts, while Craig Slater will be delivering live reports from the Circuit de Catalunya for Sky Sports News.
Get the dedicated Sky Sports F1 channel - the exclusive home of all live F1 - for £18 a month in HD with no contract. Get Sky Sports F1.