F1 pre-season testing is about to be underway for the new championship season F1 2023. In this section, we look into all that is to know about it.
F1 Pre-Season Testing Schedule
2023’s Official F1 pre-season testing session takes place at the 5.412-kilometre Bahrain International Circuit – home of the Bahrain Grand Prix – in Sakhir over three days on February 23-25. The schedule is given below.
How is Testing done?
With unlimited running between 9 am and 7.30 pm, teams can only run one car each with all five Pirelli tire compounds available. Therefore, the drivers are forced to split their running, often between morning and afternoon sessions.
Teams can also run with different fuel loads, making it harder to compare lap times. However, some teams will deliberately ‘sandbag’ to throw their rivals off. An extra 10kg of fuel can add over three-tenths to a lap in Bahrain. As there’s no scrutineering, it’s the perfect opportunity to try out potential upgrades like Mercede’s Dual-Axis Steering (DAS) system.
Are Testing times Accurate?
We will see some fast lap times over the week when some teams fit soft tires and run lower fuel loads, but not every driver will do so. A driver’s fastest time need not be taken at face value, but, along with lap counts, they can provide clues to a team’s performance and reliability.
Often, testing timesheets don’t tell the full story but the noise coming out of certain camps can indicate just how happy they are with their pre-season showing.
For example, Max Verstappen was ecstatic after last year’s pre-season testing, and with good reason, as it turned out.
Testing times are to be read with a pinch of salt, it is possible to spot when a driver is on a long run or race simulation, and whether a driver is gearing up for a flying effort.
A string of consecutive, consistent lap times is symptomatic of a long run while flying laps or qualifying simulations are bookended by slow laps (warming up then cooling down the tires), a telltale sign being a driver slowly circling the track and building a gap to the car in front to unleash the full power of their machine.
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