There are two pre-season red letter days for any Formula 1 team, the first being when the sound of the engine is heard on its first fire-up when fitted to the car. And the second is the shakedown when the car ventures out on track for the very first time. That’s when it all starts to feel real, as the fruits of the ideas, intuition and long nights all fall into place.

That’s especially true this year, as the AT03 design started from a blank sheet of paper, because of the radical new regulations that herald a new era for Formula 1.

It was also a special day for Pierre and Yuki, as they got their first taste of the AT03 during a rainy time on track at the Misano World Circuit, less than an hour away from our Faenza factory. There were only a few laps on the programme, but the car’s debut was an exciting moment for everyone. Both drivers were impressed. “At a filming day, the kilometres are very limited, but I got a positive feeling about the AT03,” said Yuki. “Now I want to use the next days of testing to build my confidence in the car, learn as much as possible and provide the engineers with my best possible feedback.” Pierre was in agreement with his team-mate. “The car is really different and the first feeling was good, even though the track was wet. There is much to find out and we will start in Barcelona where we will have a lot of work to do.”

We’ll be on track in Barcelona from Wednesday to Friday, after which comes the second pre-season test from 10 to 12 March at Bahrain’s Sakhir circuit, which will also host the first round of the World Championship on 20 March.

The waiting is over, the new Formula 1 era is here!