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Should F1 Testing Take Place in Bahrain?

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Renault RS18

The Renault RS18 testing at the Barcelona circuit
Photo: Artes Max

The first week of Formula One pre-season testing in Barcelona, Spain, was plagued with poor weather to such an extent that the teams completed a combined 600 fewer laps than they had at the same stage in 2017, despite improved reliability.

While the weather forecast for the second part of testing, starting tomorrow, looks far more promising, there have been questions as to whether testing in future years should take place at the Grand Prix circuit in Bahrain instead of Barcelona, where teams last tested in 2014.

“It would make a huge amount of sense to do that if we can,” James Key, a Toro Rosso engineer, told the UK’s Sky Sports F1. “You could say it’s a knee-jerk reaction to the snow, and Barcelona is an excellent test track, but this time of the year there are so many risks and compromises. I think it would be the obvious thing to do next year.”

Indeed, being able to get as many testing miles out of the cars before the season begins in March has become of the utmost importance as the teams can no longer test as much as their budget allows, as had once been the case. Consequently, it makes sense to choose a testing location where the weather is always agreeable.

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Four-time champion Lewis Hamilton, however, would prefer staying in Barcelona. “Ultimately this week there was questions of whether or not we should be in Bahrain where firstly the weather is always good and you can test all day long, so you can get a lot of testing because the sun goes into the evening,” he admitted, before adding, “But I like being here in Barcelona. It’s a beautiful city so hopefully the good weather comes.”

Providing a more rational argument against moving the testing location was Guenther Steiner, Haas F1’s team boss, who believes it would create logistical issues. “The cost is one of the elements going to Bahrain. It’s not easy, but also the logistics if you need something,” he said. “You guys have no idea how much stuff is coming here every day. Every day there is stuff coming for the car, it’s brutal.”

“From England or from Italy you just put it in a van, they drive and eight hours later they are here. From England it’s 12 or 14, whatever it is, but you can put it on a plane as hand luggage. We have got people going up and down every day.”

“If it is Bahrain, you need to get prepared. It’s the same for everybody and we’d need to get better prepared, but that’s one of the issues. Then the next thing is some teams would put on a jet every night to go back and forward—and some cannot.”

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News Source: Sky Sports F1