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Formula 1 set for dawn of a new era as testing begins at Circuit de Catalunya

Image result for images of the rb13

Faster, more exciting, and very different: F1’s new era has a lot of hype to live up to when pre-season testing begins at Barcelona on Monday.

While testing is a notoriously unreliable indicator of the true pecking order heading into a new season, this year’s compressed calendar – consisting of just eight days of pre-season action, all of which will take place at the Circuit de Catalunya – and the sport’s ‘rules refresh’ should produce an intensive and potentially instructive two weeks in Spain.

Haas VF-17 © Haas

The sport’s regulators will be particularly keen observers on proceedings after rewriting F1’s aerodynamic regulations to inspire cars up to five second a lap faster than last year’s.

Image result for images of the mcl32

But while the lap times are expected to tumble at Barcelona, the lap count may also fall dramatically. As well as being faster and more ‘aggressive looking’, F1’s latest range of cars are set, in the words of Red Bull chief Christian Horner, to “sort the men from the boys”.

“The car is more physical, it is quite a bit faster and it is getting back to being a man’s car day,” says Horner.

Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari SF70-H at Ferrari SF70-H First Run, Fiorano, Italy, 24 February 2017. © Sutton Images

On the first day of pre-season testing at Barcelona last year, Lewis Hamilton racked up over 150 laps. If the 2017 cars are as tough as forecast, any driver completing more than the Circuit de Catalunya’s race-distance equivalent of 66 laps will have done a good day’s work. Mercedes have already announced that they will split each day of action between both Hamilton and his new team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

The Williams FW40, Saturday 25th February 2017, © WilliamsF1

“After the first day I’ll know exactly where I’m weak,” said Hamilton. “There’s just no simulation for it.

“Whoever it is, it doesn’t matter how fit you are and how hard you trained. You get in that car and it beats the crap out of you. It just does.

“Whether you feel it in the neck- there’ll be a muscle you didn’t even know you had. Through those testing days you figure those weak areas out.”

Following the collapse of Manor, just ten teams will be in action. Rumours are already rife that Red Bull, who used ‘camouflage’ colours during testing two years ago and who are expected to present a formidable challenge to world champions Mercedes, will run the RB13 car in a specially-commissioned new livery for testing.

Daniil Kvyat (RUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso and Carlos Sainz jr (ESP) Scuderia Toro Rosso with the new Scuderia Toro Rosso STR12 at Scuderia Toro Rosso STR12 Launch, Barcelona, Spain, 26 February 2017. © Sutton Images

Mercedes formally presented their car, the W08, at Silverstone on Silverstone and will start the season as favourites following three successive title doubles. But it has been an unusually disrupted winter for the Silver Arrows juggernaut following the retirement of world champion Nico Rosberg and the exit of Paddy Lowe, their technical chief.

Renault R.S.17 © Renault Sport Formula One Team

Ferrari’s former technical chief James Allison has been hired as Lowe’s replacement but will only start work on March 1, the penultimate day of the opening test.

Marcus Ericsson, Sauber C36, filming day, Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Spain, February 22, 2017 © Sauber

By then, the clues may already be in place for how F1’s new era will dawn.

(L to R): Alfonso Celis Jr (MEX) Sahara Force India F1 Development Driver; Sergio Perez (MEX) Sahara Force India F1; Dr. Vijay Mallya (IND) Sahara Force India F1 Team Owner; Esteban Ocon (FRA) Sahara Force India F1 Team,with the Sahara Force India F1 VJM10. Sahara Force India F1 VJM10 Launch, Wednesday 22nd February 2017. Silverstone, England. © Sahara Force India

Faster, more exciting, and very different: F1's new era has a lot of hype to live up to when pre-season testing begins at Barcelona on Monday. While testing is a notoriously unreliable indicator of the true pecking order heading into a new season, this year's compressed calendar - consisting of just eight days of pre-season action, all of which will take place at the Circuit de Catalunya - and the sport's 'rules refresh' should produce an intensive and potentially instructive two weeks in Spain. The sport's regulators will be particularly keen observers on proceedings after rewriting F1's aerodynamic regulations to…

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