Waiting in the wings - teams prepare to launch 2011 cars 25 Jan 2011
With Marchs season-opener just over six weeks away and the first official test of the year set to kick off in just over seven days' time, the teams are closeted in their factories, putting the finishing touches to their 2011 cars. For Formula One fans, its been a long winter of waiting, but this week theyll be shaken out of their misery as the teams finally start to break cover and unveil their new challengers.
With just four pre-season tests at their disposal, most teams follow the maxim that the earlier you start on-track development the better. Thats certainly the thinking at Ferrari, as the Italian team will be the first to launch their new car. They will take the wraps off this Friday at their Maranello factory. Drivers Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa will both attend.
Next up are BMW Sauber and Renault, who will unveil their 2011 cars at Spains Valencia track on January 31, the day before the first official test of the year begins. Although both have chosen to forgo the traditional factory launch, team management and drivers will be present. Renault have already provided a sneak peak of their new black and gold livery, inspired by backers Group Lotus. Driver Vitaly Petrov will be charged with taking the R31 out for its first run.
Lotus, meanwhile, will launch the TL11 online on January 31 before joining the Valencia test a day later than their rivals on February 2. The team will continue to test the new car until February 4. The private test day will allow them to complete some on-track filming.
The launch season will accelerate on February 1, with four teams all expected to showcase their new charges as the test finally gets underway. Reigning world champions Red Bull plus Mercedes GP, Toro Rosso and Williams (with a car in interim livery) will all debut their new cars at the Spanish track.
Next in line are McLaren. Opting to delay the launch of the MP4-26 until their drivers have carried out some tyre testing with the known set-up of its predecessor, the British team will unveil their 2011 car at a special event, hosted by sponsor Vodafone, in Berlin on February 4. It will then be transported from Germany to Spain ahead of its track debut at Jerez during the second official test from February 10-13.
Virgin, meanwhile, are to wait until February 7 to take the wraps off the MVR-02 at a special event in London. The digitally-designed car, which will be driven by Timo Glock and Jerome DAmbrosio in 2011, is then expected to take its first spin around a track a few days later at the Jerez test.
Despite not announcing an official launch date HRT have said they are hoping they will run their new car, the F111, at the final pre-season test, which will take place in Bahrain from March 3-6. Force India are also yet to reveal any firm plans, but news is expected very soon.
Current launch line-up at a glance:
January 28 - Ferrari, Maranello, Italy
January 31 - Sauber/Renault, Valencia, Spain
January 31 - Lotus, online
February 1 - Mercedes GP/Red Bull/Williams/Toro Rosso, Valencia, Spain
February 4 - McLaren, Berlin, Germany
February 7 - Virgin, London, UK
Make sure to stay in touch with Formula1.com over the coming weeks for the latest news and pictures of all the 2011 cars.
For tickets and travel to 2011 Formula One races, click here.
For Formula One and F1 team merchandise, click here.