Things to know ahead of the Bahrain pre-season test

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With only a day remaining ahead of the start of the 2023's official F1 pre-season testing session, teams and drivers are ready to commence the final phase of their preparation for the forthcoming record-breaking 2023 F1 season. F1Technical's Balázs Szabó brings some vital facts ahead of the action from Bahrain.

After all ten teams unveiled their 2023 contenders in recent weeks, the all-important pre-season testing is next on the agenda.

While teams used to have more opportunities to test their new cars in the past, this year sees the field complete the official winter test at a single venue with the Bahrain International Circuit playing host to the official three-day pre-season running on February 23-25. This is a further reduction to last year as teams had a shakedown test at Barcelona before they moved to Bahrain for the official test and the grand prix at the very same venue.

The weather this week should be typical for Bahrain in February with pleasant, dry conditions, but with a potentially changeable and gusty wind. Tempeatures are expected to reach a peak of 26°C on Thursday and Friday while the maximum will be two Celsius degrees lower on the final day with some clouds also expected to disturb the otherwise perfect weather on Saturday.

Each of the three days of pre-season testing is scheduled to begin at 1000 local time and end at 1930 local time, with an hour's break for lunch. Teams will be only permitted to run a single car at a time which will most likely mean that many of them will split the day into two halves. Teams opting for a split day can run with both of their race drivers on the same day which has proved useful in recent times when on-track testing is so restricted.

Tyre compounds

Formula One’s Italian tyre supplier Pirelli have made a major tweak to their compound range for 2023 by adding a new compound to the mix. It means that the Milan-based tyre manufacturer will now have six options – ranging from the softest C5 tyre to the hardest C0.
Last year’s C1 has become the C0, and is now the hardest tyre in the range, while the 2023-spec C1 is an all-new product that slots between the previous C1 and C2.

This week’s Bahrain test will be the first opportunity for most of the drivers to try the new tyre. In addition to this, Pirelli will supply teams with a black-walled C3 prototype that is made in Pirelli’s Turkey-based backup factory. The Italian manufacturer’s main factory is located in Romania.

Each team has an allocation of 30 sets of tyres, chosen from a pool of 35 sets of slicks in a range of six compounds from the hardest C0 to softest C5, as well as two intermediate sets and two wets in the unlikely event of rain. They also get two sets of the prototype.

Pirelli had also mandated the maximum heating temperatures which is set at 70 Celsius degrees for the slick tyres with teams permitted to heat the tyre for a maximum of two hours. Camber limit is set at -3.50 degrees while the minimum starting pressures for the slick tyres are 21.0 psi for the front tyres and 18.5 psi for the rears.

Driving schedule

Three rookie drivers will make their F1 debut in the 2023 season. Nyck de Vries joins Yuki Tsunoda at AlphaTauri, replacing Alpine-bound Pierre Gasly. After winning consecutive titles in F3 and F2, Oscar Piastri will replace Daniel Ricciardo at McLaren. Logan Sargeant will join the F1 field with Williams, marking the first time that an American driver race at the pinnacle of motorsport since the departure of Alexander Rossi in 2015.

Williams have already committed to their driving schedule for the test. Alexander Albon and Logan Sargeant will share the driving on Thursday before each enjoys a full day of running. The American rookie will drive on Friday and the Thai-British racer on Saturday.

Formula One’s only American outfit, the MoneyGram Haas F1 Team have also revealed their driving schedule for the all-important three-day running. Returning to the sport following a three-year hiatus, Nico Hulkenberg will bring the team’s new VF23 on to the track on Thursday morning before Keving Magnussen takes over in the afternoon. The Kannapolis-based outfit plans the opposite permutation for the second day before the first permutation will be applied on the final day.

Aston Martin had to change their plans for the pre-season testing after Lance Stroll picked up injuries from an accident. The incident means that he will not be available at the three-day test at Manama. The Silverstone-based outfit decided that the team's new recruit Fernando Alonso will share track time with their reserve driver and 2022 Formula 2 champion Felipe Drugovich on Thursday. The schedule for the rest of the test will be announced in due course.

On Wednesday, Red Bull confirmed defending champion Max Verstappen will be in the new RB19 all day Thursday, and Friday afternoon. Sergio Perez will take the wheel on Friday morning, and then drive the full day on Saturday.

Ferrari will start the programme with Carlos Sainz on Thursday morning with Charles Leclerc with the same schedule planned for the second day of running. The final day will see the Monegasque start the running with Sainz set to bring the running to an end.

Elsewhere, Mercedes, AlphaTauri, McLaren and Alpine have committed to similar split days, meaning that only Red Bull, Alfa Romeo and Williams set to complete test complete days with a single driver.