Pre-season testing begins on Thursday in Bahrain, the shortest in Formula 1 history, and even on the eve of the longest season in Formula 1 history.
only three days
The entire program of the winter team in 2023 fits into three days. The tests will take place from February 23 to 25. In order not to experience problems with cold weather, as often happened in Barcelona, the pre-season sessions will take place on the track, where the first race of the season will take place, in Bahrain. It’s hot here so there should be no problem warming up the tyres. The forecast promises favorable weather + 23-25 degrees, without precipitation. Only strong gusts of wind can create problems.
According to the regulations, teams can use only one car. You can bring two chassis, as the teams did (the first race of the season in a week), but only one driver from the team will work on the track during the session. In the event of a breakdown and stoppage of the car on the track, regardless of where the car is, in which safety zone or on the trajectory, the organizers stop the session with red flags and evacuate the car. Session time is not stopped and is not offset.
The super short tests caused complaints from the drivers, time is really short and if something happens to the car, the value of lost time will be enormous. But this is the decision of the teams to limit the budgets, so you have to take whatever it is.
The sessions will take place from 10 am to 2 pm, followed by an hour of lunch during which there will be two press conferences. First the pilots will participate and then the representatives of the teams. Then from 3:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. the second part of the session, which will end under artificial lighting. The time in Bahrain coincides with Moscow.
The tires are different, the settings are any. What will the tests show?
Test participants are not limited in their choice of programs. The number of laps, the fuel level in the tanks, the tire compositions are not regulated. Traditionally, during tests, additional equipment for data collection is installed on the machines, all kinds of strips with sensors, paint is applied to determine the direction of air flows. The weight of the car can be reduced below 798 kg, the minimum prescribed in the Grand Prix.
Tire manufacturers Pirelli brought seven slick compositions (last year there were five) with two hard tires (marked C0 and C1), two medium tires (C2 and C3) and two soft tires (C4 and C5). Additionally, teams will receive a trial version of Medium (labeled C3 Proto, not indicated in any way on the color scheme). Intermediate and rain boots are unlikely to be needed, but are also available in two sets per team. Teams will choose 30 sets of slicks out of the 35 offered.
Will the tests reflect the true strength of the teams? Drivers will traditionally answer this question no, because “no one knows what setup the rivals drove with, but we are focused on our program.” The leaders will try to hide the true speed, although if you remember last year Max Verstappen set the fastest time, who won the championship (1:31.720). The third is with his main rival from Ferrari, Charles Leclerc. It’s true that Haas’ Mick Schumacher got between them, but this is a different story, as no one canceled the image component. And then in the American team they did not deny that they released the German in the softest lineup in the qualifying modality. Therefore, the tests are more likely to provide a first understanding of the alignment of the forces, but will not give an accurate picture.
Who will drive and when?
Not only the main drivers of the team, but also the test drivers can participate in the pre-season tests. Most of the teams decided not to involve the testers, since the work is assigned over three days and every hour is literally worth its weight in gold. However, circumstances have already forced Aston Martin to change this original intention. The main rider and son of the team owner, Lance Stroll, had an accident while cycling in Spain, was injured and will miss testing. Also, there is a chance that he will miss the first race of the season. Each Ride is tested so that the team has a clear understanding of future actions. His teammate Fernando Alonso was in the same situation a couple of years ago. The Spaniard even had to undergo surgery, but managed to recover for the tests. Paseo will be replaced by Felipe Drugovic.
The schedule of the pilots in the pre-season tests.
Red Bull: 02/23 – Verstappen, 02/24 – Pérez/Verstappen, 02/25 – Pérez.
Ferrari: February 23 Sainz/Leclerc, February 24 Sainz/Leclerc, February 25 Leclerc/Sains.
Mercedes: February 23 – Russell/Hamilton, February 24 – Hamilton/Russell, February 25 – Russell/Hamilton.
“Alpin”: 23.02 – exited / windows, 24.02 – windows / exited, 25.02 – exited / windows.
McLaren: 02/23 – Piastri/Norris, 02/24 – Norris/Piastri, 02/25 – Piastri/Norris.
Alfa Romeo: February 23 – Zhou/Bottas, February 24 – Zhou, February 25 – Bottas.
Aston Martin: 02/23 – Alonso/Drugovic, 02/24 and 02/25 – no schedule.
Haas: 02/23 – Hulkenberg/Magnussen, 02/24 – Magnussen/Hülkenberg, 02/25 – Hulkenberg/Magnussen.
Alpha Tauri: February 23 – Tsunoda / de Vries, February 24 – Tsunoda / de Vries, February 25 – de Vries / Tsunoda.
Williams: Feb 23 – Albon/Sargent, Feb 24 – Sargent, Feb 25 – Albon.