You would be forgiven for thinking that it was all doom and gloom in Formula 1 nowadays. Be it the Halo, the liveries, the amount of overtaking or the management, there is always something to cry about. If you need to find a crisis, you'll find one.

But the least of F1’s worries in recent years has been snow. The weather may get rainy at times and washout on-track sessions, but never snow. That’s a preserve saved for other forms of motorsport, such as rallying or, in 2016, the WEC.

Yet snow has been the big talking point of the test week so far in Barcelona. Even before flying out, there was talk of snow hitting the test that was largely scoffed at. But as we got closer to the middle of the week, it looked more and more likely that it would hit the track.

Talks about scrapping Wednesday’s running and moving it to one of the days ahead of the second test proved fruitless, with two teams voting against the idea that required unanimous support.

Waking up on Wednesday morning, a quick glance out of the window showed a thin layer of snow covering the landscape, with more falling. While the roads were clear for everyone to get to the circuit, a track and air temperature of exactly 0ºC meant there would be next to nothing to gain from heading out for some laps.

The teams didn’t even get that choice to begin with, though. Snow continued to fall, meaning the medical helicopter was unable to take off, putting the session under a red flag for three hours before going green at 12 p.m.

Just over an hour later, the media corps was sprinting to the window of the media centre as the first car trundled out on-track. Fernando Alonso had armed his McLaren with full wet Pirellis, and went for a scoot around the circuit to judge the conditions before returning.

A handful of other drivers followed suit, including Daniel Ricciardo, who took a trip through the gravel due to the slippery conditions on-track. It acted as a not-so-subtle warning to the rest of the field: basically, don’t bother.

And there was perhaps a feeling of that in the paddock. After the frustration of lost running on Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning, another whole day had gone. Roughly two of the first three days have been lost, putting all of the planned programmes out of kilter. Sergio Perez hasn’t even driven the new Force India car yet…

But is Alonso the kind of driver to follow the crowd? Is he heck. With 15 minutes left in the day, gasps were sparked across the media centre as he crossed the start/finish line to begin a flying lap, with ironic cheers and claps then following a couple of minutes later as he posted a timed lap. He then returned to the track to take the chequered flag, beating his previous time in the process.

The timesheet-leading effort came in at a rather pedestrian 2:18.545, but history will record Alonso as finishing fastest and completing the most laps on day three of pre-season testing.

All joking aside, this will be remembered as a rather unique day in F1 history, a bit like the snow-affected Renault test back in 2005 or pre-season running in Barcelona in 2003. It left the paddock trying to find inventive ways to stay busy - pre-season practice for any rain delays that may follow, perhaps - and enjoying the same old ‘in the trenches’ spirit the F1 family embraces.

Mercedes was the big winner of the off-track hijinks, taking advice from Frozen’s Elsa by building a snowman. Initially nicknamed ‘Snowto’, the snowman spent some time with Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton, took part in a technical debrief, and even did some interviews, such was his popularity.

Reports of his death were greatly exaggerated, resulting in a correction and apology from Sky Sports' Craig Slater after he jumped the gun. The snowman even got himself onto Twitter before the end of the day, revealing his true identity to be ‘Karl Snowman’.

So are we right to continue to come to Barcelona for pre-season testing, when the warmer climes of Bahrain would offer a more stable, consistent programme to teams? The trade-off needs to be considered. Sure, you would be pretty certain of eight eight-hour days of running - but the cost would be far greater compared to staging it in Spain. Literally flying parts, equipment and any other supplies back and forth is not only more time-intensive but would also push running costs through the roof.

“The cost is one of the elements going to Bahrain. It’s not easy, but also the logistics if you need something,” Haas F1 chief Günther Steiner explained.

“For example the first year when we came in here two years ago it was talked about going to Bahrain or Abu Dhabi and that would be a no-no because if you are new and you need to fly something somewhere.

"You guys have no idea how much stuff is coming here every day. Every day there is stuff coming for the car, it’s brutal.

"From England or from Italy you just put it in a van, they drive and eight hours later they are here. From England it’s 12 or 14, whatever it is, but you can put it on a plane as hand luggage. We have got people going up and down every day.

"If it is Bahrain, you need to get prepared. It’s the same for everybody and we’d need to get better prepared, but that’s one of the issues. Then the next thing is some teams would put on a jet every night to go back and forward - and some cannot.”

The whole point of limiting testing to eight days is the cut costs. So why take a step that would push them back up again, all because of one day of snow?

The good thing is that fans at home didn’t sit through nine hours of relative tedium and empty air time, as would have been the case if pre-season testing were to be streamed live as some fans want it to be. It could be a nice way for fans to get a first look at the cars ahead of the new season, but the reality is that it would be largely underwhelming - a bit like a practice session. Except that it would last eight hours a day for four days. And there would be far, far fewer conclusions to draw from it than a typical practice session…

As for tomorrow? The bad news is that more rain is forecast. The good news is that with a high of 15ºC, we will hopefully at least see a bit of additional running.

That said, the worst news is probably for Karl Snowman, who may end up turning a bit mulchy. However, he did feature in Mercedes' end of day press release, speaking proudly of his achievements.

"Hands down this was the best day of my life," Snowman said. "It's been over ten years since I was last invited out to F1 testing - back in Silverstone in 2005 with Renault. It's not my first time in Barcelona, I was here in 2002 with McLaren when Mika started a snowball fight in the pit lane. But today has been the most fun yet.

"The team was really nice to me; everyone was so cool and chilled out. They gave me a warm welcome, but not too warm - just the way I like it.

"I don't quite understand why everyone made such a fuss about the weather. I mean what do people expect? There's a reason why it's called winter testing.

"I would also like to address the rumours about my wellbeing. Reports about my demise have been greatly exaggerated. I can assure everyone that the team is treating me extremely well and found appropriate accommodation in a cold storage unit for me."

And would we have got a story like Karl the Snowman in Bahrain? No chance.

 

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