A ‘testing time’ for an F1 fan

Spread the love

Picture Credits Bahrain International Circuit

The liveries have already been revealed, the covers will soon be taken off and F1 cars will be back on track. Formula 1 fans are a loyal diehard bunch but when it comes to pre-season testing this can sometimes prove to be a rather…testing time.


Thursday brings with it the first F1 pre-season testing of 2023 in Bahrain. At this event no points will be won, no trophies will be presented and no anthems will be played. However, none of this will stop many millions of people around the world watching pre-season Formula 1 testing live in high definition (or monitoring timings on their laptop whilst at work); nor will it hinder the few thousand fans who will attend testing in person over the next few days.


Testing can also be a real test for a Formula 1 fan.


A fan is defined as ‘an enthusiastic devotee (as of a sport or a performing art) usually as a spectator’. Well, when it comes to pre-season testing this is when a special group of fans reveal themself.


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. This means an opportunity for a total of 25.5 hours that the track will be open for during the course of the test – however teams are only allowed to one run car at a time.


Last year’s pre-season testing in Barcelona had been relatively smooth running for the first two days before the final day was interrupted by a total of five red-flag stoppages. Meanwhile back in 2018 there were numerous delays and scenes of a snow-covered Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya which brought about humorous memes for Pirelli launching new snow tyres.


Fans will inevitably be disappointed should Bahrain pre-season testing bring about another series of red flags, but this is a possibility they know even before turning up to the track. This is a risk any F1 fan knows who has attended a race weekend’s Friday Free Practice: there is always the risk of little or no action – and that is during the season!


Every year brings at least one ‘weather affected free practice’ whether it be rain affecting the track or poor visibility for the medical helicopter being able to land at a hospital. F1 fans are a die-hard devoted unit as anyone who has sat on Club Corner in hailing rain or struggled for visibility of the track during a Spa-Francorchamps downpour will surely tell you.


No one knows whether Bahrain will bring regular running on track or once again incident affected intervals – but that is ok. The reason being it will signal the fact Formula 1 is back!


Not only this, but pre-season testing will feature all of the actual 2023 cars as opposed to 2022 models with new stickers which was the route some teams had opted for during their ‘grand unveiling’. Plus, it is an opportunity to see three full-time rookies – Oscar Piastri (McLaren), Logan Sargeant (Williams), and Nyck de Vries (AlphaTauri) – benefit from regular running on track.


Also, certain to make the headlines is Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin) and Pierre Gasly (Alpine) driving for their new teams. Elsewhere on the grid, Nico Hulkenberg returns to an F1 car as part of the Haas F1 Team starting driver lineup. All these drivers will be desperate to get some much-needed track time before the first race.


At a time when F1 is booming, the fact that all three days are televised live goes to show the interest pre-season testing now has. Rumours have also been circulating that the AMR23 from Aston Martin has been setting impressive numbers so one can imagine all eyes and cameras will be on the team Fernando Alonso now calls his home.


Pre-season testing will also inevitably bring with it claims of teams sandbagging if they are not as high up the timing sheets as maybe had been expected. For this reason, the actual timings aren’t necessarily used as a fair indicator of performance and of course there is also the fact that certain performances could be track specific.


Nevertheless, due to the fact that Max Verstappen did record the fastest testing times in 2022 and 2021 – and subsequently went on to win the championship in both seasons – maybe it does go some way to arranging the pecking order. 


Consequently, this whets the appetite for the Bahrain Grand Prix on March 5th when the timings really will matter. All in all, there is plenty to enjoy from F1 Pre-Season Testing and no doubt plenty of time to make a cup of tea – when a red flag inevitably comes out.