Cars and stars are back on track as F1 gears up for new season

Lewis Hamilton leads the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel around the Barcelona track this week at the wheel of the new 2016 Mercedes W07-Hybrid F1 car
Lewis Hamilton leads the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel around the Barcelona track this week at the wheel of the new 2016 Mercedes W07-Hybrid F1 car
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The start of the 2016 FIA F1 World Championship is edging ever nearer now that pre-season testing has commenced at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain.

All F1 teams registered and entered for 2016 have been in action at the track that hosts the Spanish Grand Prix, and every new car that will contest the championship were on-track to undergo early test laps in the hands of race and test drivers.

The world championship-winning Mercedes AMG Petronas team from Brackley launched their new W07-Hybrid in the pit lane at the Barcelona track, and it is the new car that Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg will race throughout the season.

The duo completed many laps in the test, with Hamilton saying: “The car looks good and the hard work by all the team seems to have been well worth it. We have managed to complete lots of running without issue. The test has been very productive.”

Rosberg said of the new car:”I think the car is a great step forward, and we now have to see how other teams have developed their cars during the off-season.

“I had a great end to 2015, winning three races in a row, and I hope the W07 will allow me to carry on from that point. This test and other tests will give us a good indication before the first race.”

The Silverstone-based Sahara Force India team rolled out their new VJM09-Mercedes for Alfonso Celis Jr. to make his F1 test debut in, the youngster was handed the first stint in the car that seems to be a natural evolution of the team’s successful VJM08 car.

Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg both also took turns behind the wheel of the car with the former commenting: “The team have done a good job with this car. It looks good runs well. I am confident that this car will allow the team to score points and challenge for podium finishes during the year.”

The part Bicester-based Scuderia Toro Rosso team ran their new STR11 car, which will be powered by a Ferrari engine this year. The team have been forced to switch their Renault engine supply, and will instead run year-old Ferrari units.

Carlos Sainz was the first Toro Rosso driver to sample the new car, saying: “The Ferrari engine feels strong and I am sure we will see much increased development over the next few weeks.”

Calendar for the 2016 F1 season: 20 March - Australia; 3 April - Bahrain; 17 April - China; 1 May - Russia; 15 May - Spain; 29 May - Monaco; 12 June - Canada; 19 June - Europe (Baku); 3 July - Austria; 10 July - Britain; 24 July - Hungary; 31 July - Germany; 28 August - Belgium; 4 Sep - Italy; 18 Sep - Singapore; 2 Oct - Malaysia; 9 Oct - Japan; 23 Oct - USA; 30 Oct - Mexico; 13 Nov - Bahrain; 27 Nov - Abu Dhabi.