When Does Formula 1 Pre-Season Testing Start + Everything We Know

With the new Formula 1 season almost upon us, and now that every car has been officially revealed, it's time to look ahead to winter testing. Here is everything we know about Formula 1 pre-season testing.

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Formula 1 pre-season testing officially starts on Friday 12th March. And all F1 fans are looking ahead to this to get our first look at every car on track. We’ve seen the official car liveries for every team, but can’t wait to see them on track properly this year.

What date is Formula 1 pre-season testing this year?

The official run time of the 2021 pre-season testing is shorter than previous years. Down from 6 days last year, to just 3 days in 2021. And those days run from March 12th-14th.

The reduction in testing days means that most drivers will only get roughly one and a half days in this years car before the first race of the season. That is less than any other year in the past, and will give rookie drivers much less time to prepare this year round.

Although more experienced F1 drivers such as Max Verstappen have said, “It’s not a lot, but I don’t mind”.

Where is F1 pre-season testing happening in 2021?

2021 also adds a secondary element into the mix to go alongside the shortened testing window. This comes in the form of a change in testing location. This year testing will take place in Bahrain, which is holding the first grand prix of the year.

In recent years, Barcelona is the typical location for winter testing. However due to some of the calendar being changed already in 2021, with Australia being moved to later in the year, and Bahrain stepping up to hold the first grand prix. The decision was made to hold pre-season testing at Bahrain to limit travel, and limitations of travelling to other countries during the pandemic.

Where to watch F1 pre-season testing

With the pre-season testing being the first real on-track action this year, it’s no surprise that we all want to tune in to watch. After all, it is three full days of F1 cars on track!


We will be including updates and a live watchalong on our website, SimRacingSetup.com. These will be available on every day during pre-season testing.

We aren’t partnered with Formula 1 in any way so wont be broadcasting any footage. However will be bringing you a third party stream, allowing you to listen to all of the on track action, and keep up with live timing.


There are a few places that you can watch the F1 testing this year, and the first is on Formula 1’s new TV platform. F1TV.com has seen a huge overhaul heading in to the 2021 season, and allows you to get closer to the action than any other platform.

You can stream F1 TV across iOS, Android, Apple TV and via a web browser. Meaning you can watch where ever you are. It’s also now available in 82 countries around the world.

Sky Sports F1

If you are based in the UK, and have a Sky subscription, you can tune in to Sky Sports F1’s coverage of the whole weekend. Sky Sports F1 features one of the best broadcast teams, and brings you exclusive content and interviews throughout the season.

What should we look for during testing?

There are a few key points to look for in this years pre-season testing.

New cars

Despite many teams releasing B-spec cars this year ahead of the major overhauls that are expected last year. All teams are still bringing significant updates to their 2020 car.

Most teams are utilising the same chassis from last year, but with overhauled aerodynamic packages. There are some new aero rules in place for 2021 which requires teams to make changes across the car.

The most prominent rule change involves the rear section of the floor. In 2021, all teams have had to reduce the floor immediately in front of the rear wheels. This is designed to reduce the amount of rear downforce available and to reduce some of the penalty for following another car closely.

New teams

2021 will see the introduction of two new brands in Formula 1. We’ll see the return of Aston Martin to the grid, following the rebranding of Racing Point. This is a very exciting change, as it signifies the start of what many are hoping to be a rise to the front of the grid for Aston Martin.

Aston have also persuaded multiple world champion Sebastien Vettel to drive for them this year. Following his poor 2020 season with Ferrari, Seb will be hoping that the move to Aston Martin gives him a fresh start, and an upturn in form.

The second new brand on the grid is Alpine, which is the rebranding of the Renault team. The Renault group decided to change to Alpine branding to give more of a racing emphasis on their sub-brand.

Alpine also have a new driver line-up, with the fan favourite Fernando Alonso returning after a few years out of the sport. We’re all eagerly awaiting to see how much speed Alonso still has. And his 1 and half days in the car during pre-season testing will be very interesting!

New drivers

Along with Alonso mentioned above, there are three new rookies on the grid for 2021. Two of which will be driving for Haas. Both Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin have been promoted from Formula 2, after both drivers had good seasons last year.

It will be interesting to see how they both fair in Formula 1, driving for a team in Haas, who haven’t looked to develop their 2021 car too much.

Then, looking slightly further up the grid, Yuki Tsunoda is entering the sport driving with AlphaTauri. Yuki also had a great 2020 Formula 2 season, and could have challenged for the title if it wasn’t for a run of bad luck.

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Article written by Rich

Co-Founder of SimRacingSetups.com

Rich is the co-founder, and one of the main F1 setup creators and content writers for SimRacingSetups. With over a decade of experience as a graphic designer, marketing director, competitive sim racer and avid motorsport fan, Rich founded SimRacingSetup.com to share his passion and knowledge of sim racing and Formula 1 with other sim racers.

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