F1 comes to the region.jpg

F1 comes to the region

By ELOISE WALTON [email protected]

This weekend sees the start of the first extensive Formula 1 testing at the Algarve Motor Park.

A total of five top F1 teams have so far signed up for the five-day sessions at the track, which are due to start on Sunday.

Following the success of testing carried out by Ferrari and McLaren in December, the Algarve Motor Park will be hosting Toyota, Renault, Red Bull, Williams and McLaren.

With the F1 season drawing ever closer, the teams will almost all be breaking cover and unveiling their new cars in the coming weeks.

This season is particularly exciting as throughout the five days, racing fans in the Algarve will have the chance to preview several top cars, which are expected to have some interesting modifications compared to last year.

Design departments have been working hard to come up with ingenious ideas to allow the F1 cars to legally race within the wide-ranging new regulations.

It is expected that this season’s cars will be cleaner with less fussy bodywork, having lower and wider front wings and taller and narrower rear wings, among other changes.

With the negative impact of the economic crisis, several teams have opted to make use of the World Wide Web and officially unveil their new cars online instead of spending thousands on a lavish launch party.

On Monday Ferrari became the first team to launch their new car, the day before their driver Filipe Massa tested it at the Fiorano circuit in Italy.

Toyota has also chosen to forgo a launch party and was due to distribute information about the TF109 yesterday (Thursday), before its first test on the track in the Algarve this weekend.

McLaren’s new machine, the MP4-24, is due to be unveiled today (Friday) at the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking, UK.

The team’s driver, 2008 world champion Lewis Hamilton, is expected to drive the car in the coming days.

Renault will be unveiling its R29 in the Algarve on Monday (January 19), on the same day as the Williams team unveil their FW31.

Williams plan to keep their full racing colours under wraps, however, until the season-opening grand prix in Australia.

Following the cautious trend, BMW Sauber will have a low-key unveiling of their F1.09 in Valencia, Spain on Tuesday while the Red Bull team will wait until February 9 to unveil their RB5 in Jerez, Spain. Plans for other teams including Toro Rosso, Red Bull’s sister team have not yet been revealed.

For those of you wanting a piece of the action, then visit the motor park’s website, available in English, at www.autodromodoalgarve.com.

A one-day pass to watch the F1 testing costs 15 euros, or 20 euros to be able to enter the paddock, while a pass for all five days costs 35 euros or 45 euros for access to the paddock area.

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