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F1 launch season takes shape

Sky Sports logo Sky Sports 31-01-2016

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F1's 2016 launch season is starting to take shape with the car unveiling dates for more than half the grid now pencilled in. 

Ahead of a later start to the truncated winter testing programme this year on February 22, teams are keeping their new cars under wraps until either the opening morning of the first Barcelona test or the days immediately before.

With the days of big set-piece launch events increasingly proving a glitzy excess of the past, 2016's car unveilings are falling into one of two camps: an online-only event or a pitlane reveal at testing.

McLaren have confirmed an online launch for their MP4-31 the day before testing begins, Sunday February 21, with Ferrari also planning an online reveal for their 2016 challenger. The Italian press have reported this will take place two days before McLaren on February 19.

The build-up to the official start of testing at Barcelona on the Monday is poised be especially busy.

Red Bull, Williams and Manor had already all indicated they will pull the wraps off their respective 2016 cars in the Circuit de Catalunya pitlane before the test begins at 8am UK time. Newcomers Haas will do likewise, with particular anticipation surrounding the reveal of the American team's first F1 challenger.

World champions Mercedes have traditionally held straightforward pitlane reveals since their return to team ownership in 2010 and are therefore likely to follow suit with the W07 on February 22.

Sauber, meanwhile, have delayed their new C35 to the second and final test, which begins on March 1. The Swiss team, whose financial problems have proved long-running, have attributed the wait to the fact the start of the new racing season was brought forward to March 20, having initially been scheduled for early April.

Renault are holding an event in Paris on February 3 to launch their return to team ownership, when the former Lotus squad's new-look livery, if not the 2016 car, could be revealed. The French firm will also confirm their driver line-up amid speculation that Pastor Maldonado's seat is coming under threat from Kevin Magnussen.

Red Bull are holding a bespoke 2016 livery launch in London on February 17.

Force India and Toro Rosso are the other teams yet to confirm their launch plans, with Manor the only one of F1's 11 teams yet to name their drivers for the new season.

2016 car launch dates so far

Mid-February: Ferrari, onlineFebruary 21: McLaren MP4-31, onlineFebruary 22: Red Bull RB12, BarcelonaFebruary 22: Haas, Barcelona February 22: Manor, Barcelona (TBC)February 22: Williams FW38, Barcelona (TBC)March 1: Sauber C35, Barcelona

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