BARCELONA – New McLaren driver Carlos Sainz of Spain is set to hit the circuit in Barcelona during next week’s first test of 2019 with the recently-unveiled MCL34 race car.
On Thursday, McLaren launched its car for the 2019 Formula One season at its technology center in Woking, England, as Sainz was on hand for the event.
The 24-year-old replaced two-time world champion Fernando Alonso, the Spaniard who retired from Formula One at the end of last season.
Montmelo, the 4,655-kilometer venue for the May 12 Spanish Grand Prix, is to host the first two pre-season tests, scheduled for Feb. 18-21 and Feb 26-March 1.
Before the pre-season gets underway on Monday, Alfa Romeo, which has become an F1 team again after a deal with Sauber to compete in 2019, will present its driver pairing of Antonio Giovinazzi of Italy and Kimi Raikkonen of Finland.
Raikkonen is heating up to race again for the team that gave him his debut as a professional F1 racer in 2001, and he rejoined it on a swap move that saw former Sauber driver Charles Leclerc of Monaco replacing him at Ferrari, teaming up with Sebastian Vettel of Germany.
The 39-year-old Raikkonen is scheduled to get behind the wheel on the first day of the pre-season testing, as will do Vettel, who has four F1 titles under his belt which he won between 2010 and 2013 with Red Bull.
Mercedes and Haas are the only F1 teams that maintained last season’s squad intact, as British driver Lewis Hamilton, who will seek his sixth title, will continue to race, along with Valtteri Bottas of Finland, for the Silver Arrows, while Romain Grosjean of France and Kevin Magnussen of Denmark remain at Haas.
Both Mercedes’ drivers Hamilton and Bottas are scheduled to take part in the first day of the tests, as will Grosjean.
Robert Kubica of Poland, meanwhile, will have to wait a little longer than initially expected to make his first appearance as Williams’ official driver – eight years after crashing while taking part in a rally – as the team was still working on the car.
“Unfortunately, we have had to delay the start of our pre-season Barcelona test to Tuesday morning. We have had an incredibly busy winter at Grove getting the FW42 prepared for the season ahead and, despite everyone’s best efforts, we need some more time before it will be ready to run,” Deputy Team Principal, Claire Williams said in a statement.
Her father, Frank Williams, is still nominally in charge although he has been a wheelchair-bound tetraplegic since suffering a car accident in France in 1986.
“Our absolute priority is to always ensure we bring a car to the track that is the best that it can be and sometimes that takes longer than you’d anticipate or like. It’s clearly not ideal, but equally it’s not the end of the world,” she added.