F1 2020: Countdown to the sport's return with launches and testing
Not long to go now until the new season's cars are revealed and the class of 2020 go testing in Barcelona...
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 04/02/20 8:48am
Formula 1 teams' preparations continue to ratchet up for 2020 amid the countdown to car launches and track testing this month.
With just a week to go until the first of the new season's challengers are revealed, teams' factories in the UK and Europe are currently a hive of activity amid work to finalise their all-new cars for a busy few weeks on and off track.
- The F1 car launch schedule for February
- Why F1 2020 promises so much
- Get Sky Sports F1 for the new season
What are F1's teams up to?
Although the off-season began at the start of December, the 2020 challengers have been in design and development for a lot longer in that.
As Mercedes technical chief James Allision explained: "The car that we're going to be showing up with in Melbourne, the first thoughts of that went in at the tail end of 2018. The whole of the 2019 season hadn't happened, we hadn't even run our 2019 car.
"That process is a long one - it starts very gradually, but it tapers up to an enormous explosion of activity that happens in the month before Christmas and then the two, three months we have in the new year before winter testing.
"That process is a long one."
Those long lead times mean it is therefore a significant moment when a new car is successfully 'fired up' for the first time in the factory - as witnessed at Mercedes, Ferrari and McLaren over the past week, with posts on social media.
"Together with our colleagues from Renault, we successfully fired up the new car today for the first time. As it is every year, this is an important milestone," said team boss Andreas Seidl as the MCL35 was heard for the first time.
"We have plenty of hard work ahead of us over the coming weeks, but it's great to see the commitment inside the team and everything going to plan as we continue to prepare for car launch and the first test."
Ferrari, who are scheduled to kick off 2020's 'launch week' on February 11, hit the same milestone on the same day, with teaser footage of their fire-up revealed from Maranello.
What are the drivers up to?
Unlike most other sportspeople, drivers spend little time in their arena of choice - in this case, a racing circuit - between the end of one season and the start of the next.
World champion Lewis Hamilton, for instance, will have spent 74 days off track between 2019's Abu Dhabi GP and Mercedes' W11 shakedown on February 14 at Silverstone.
But what that does leave for F1's stars is the time to rest over Christmas and then hit training hard in the New Year, before returning to their respective factories for seat-fits, meetings and then the obligatory new-season sponsor and team engagements.
For young drivers like Lando Norris, the chance to get back driving again can't come soon enough.
"I'm itching to get back in the car, especially this year," the 20-year-old told McLaren's website.
"I was last year, but I was a lot more nervous at this point in 2019 with all the new things I had to contend with: rules, information, strategies, ways of working, everything really.
"Whereas now, I know a lot of this stuff. I feel more relaxed and not so nervous. Instead of wondering whether I'm ready for the first race, this time I know I am and that's why I'm so excited."
So what does F1's pre-season look like?
Here is when and where you'll see the class of 2020 unveiled over the next few weeks...
F1 launches and testing
|February 11||Ferrari||Reggio Emilia, Italy|
|February 12||Red Bull||Online|
|February 12||Renault||Paris, France|
|February 13||McLaren||MTC, Woking|
|February 14||Mercedes||Silverstone, UK|
|February 14||Alpha Tauri||Salzburg, Austria|
|February 17||Racing Point||Mondsee, Austria|
|February 19||Alfa Romeo||Barcelona, Spain|
|February 19||Haas||Barcelona, Spain|
|February 19-21||Test One||Barcelona, Spain|
|February 26-28||Test Two||Barcelona, Spain|