Formula 1 makes its return to the track for testing at Sakhir. Here is what to look for during the testing session.
Formula 1 returns to the track this week following a three-month gap for their annual pre-season testing in Sakhir. The pre-season testing will occur at the Bahrain International Circuit from February 23-25. The final two days of testing will allow fans to be in attendance.
This testing period will serve as the first time the 2023 cars make their debut and provide substantial data for teams to prepare for the opening weekend in a few weeks.
What to expect from testing
Throughout the three days, the track is open for eight and a half hours and is closed for a one-hour lunch break. Also, each team is allowed one car on the track during the session.
During testing, teams will focus on their aerodynamics. Cars on track will appear with large rakes while on track. These rakes along the car collect airflow data and digital photos of how the air flows on key components of the car. Teams will be on a tight schedule during the testing period. This will be the only opportunity to fix any issues, test out new parts, or adjust their setup before the start of the season. If we combine the allotted time, teams will only have twenty-five hours of testing. This means teams will be in a rush to fix any issue, test a new part, or tweak their setup before the season begins.
Testing AND Drive To Survive Season 5 in the same week?!
BRING. IT. ON! 🔥🍿#F1 pic.twitter.com/XFDJka9yTa
— Formula 1 (@F1) February 21, 2023
Team performances and expectations
Testing will bring along many storylines into the new season. The top three teams Red Bull, Mercedes, and Ferrari will be the focal point to see who will come out on top. Will the double champions Red Bull suffer due to the limited time of wind tunnel testing? Have Mercedes solved their issues following an underperforming season? Can Ferrari avoid the self-inflicting mistakes and finally challenge for the title? Last year’s testing witnessed Max Verstappen as the fastest and eventually resulted in the Dutchman delivering a record-breaking title-winning season. Could it be whoever tops the session may have the strongest chance to win the title?
Besides the top teams, the midfield battles are also interesting heading into testing. Alpine look to improve and maintain their best of the rest title following a strong finish last season. McLaren is another team to focus on, as they have plenty to prove after a season full of inconsistency. One thing to look out for is the surprise team during testing. Is it possible for one of the bottom teams to march their way into the midfield? We will find out soon enough if that is the case.
With the season just around the corner, there are plenty of fresh faces are within the paddock. Last season saw the departures of Daniel Ricciardo, Nicolas Latifi, Mick Schumacher, and Sebastian Vettel. The sport will welcome three rookies in Nyck de Vries, Logan Sargeant, and Oscar Piastri. Another familiar face Nico Hulkenberg, makes his return back into F1 after some time away as well.
Where to watch
Viewing the F1 action this week will vary for viewers across the globe. Sky Sports will be the primary source of live coverage. Unfortunately, if you live in the US or Australia, you are out of luck. ESPN, the main provider of F1 coverage throughout the season, will not cover testing in the US. So fans living in the US will need to be a subscriber to F1TV Pro to watch testing. Testing will start bright and early in the US at 2 am.