McLaren 2023 pre-season testing at the Bahrain International Circuit
2023 Formula One Pre-Season Testing Begins
Formula One

The Formula One traveling circus is back after what seems to be a long winter hibernation. The 2023 test campaign is rather limited, with just three days to acclimatize, benchmark and optimize the car. The Bahrain International Circuit is the facilitating test venue and will also host the first race of the season next week. The technical regulations are stable for 2023 so many teams will make evolutionary upgrades from last year. But that doesn’t mean to say they have spent less time working on their 2023 spec cars. Indeed it’s quite the opposite, even small detailed changes require as much work as re-engineering, all teams will make small detailed upgrades to their respective cars, changes that mostly go largely unnoticed. But this is what engineers and designers live for, so no change in the mentality and approach of constructing an F1 car.

There are a number of team personnel changes, which is fairly normal, F1 is a village and people shift from one team to another, most will go umnoticed by the fans. The fans are most interested in the whereabouts of the drivers, and a few changes have occurred. A slew of rookies enter the grid, Nyck de Vries joins Alfa Tuari, Oscar Pisatri ousts Daniel Ricciardo at McLaren and Logan Sargent joins Williams. Aston Martin reserve driver Felipe Drugovich is in for Lance Stroll who is out injured after a cycling crash.

Ferrari at the 2023 Bahrain pre-season test

Of the rookies, most attention will focus on the individual performances of de Vries and Pisastri, both are proven race winners in other classes of open-seat racing, but F1 is the most challenging formula of them all. Having the talent and skill is not enough, it is a pre-requisite, many rookies stumble and fall, and only a few get back up and last the course.

Because F1 testing is so ridiculously limited these days, the three-day test campaign in Bahrain is a chance to conduct initial systems testing ahead of the Grand Prix proper. With limitations placed on how many engines teams can use over the course of the season, most will opt to limit engine RPM in order to protect the longevity of the PU (power unit) during testing. What that reveals is that we will not see the full pace of the cars until the first race. Indeed, because the race calendar has expanded to so many races, Practice 1 is now considered as a test session.

Lewis Hamilton at the 2023 Bahrain pre season test

The one thing no team wants to experience during pre-season testing is the car breaking down. This has already happened to Aston Martin which does not bode well for the rest of the season. Because testing is so limited Aston Martin now has to spend time in the garage finding a solution rather than spending time out on the track optimizing for the first race. Ferrari kicks off their pre-season testing under a cloud of suspicion over air duct design that has questionable legality according to other teams.

So F1 2023 has returned, its business as usual.

McLaren 2023 pre-season testing at the Bahrain International Circuit
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