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2023 F1 pre-season testing: Everything you need to know

Pre-season testing is nearly upon us, so here's the guide to everything you need to know ahead of the action from Bahrain – including a jargon buster!

Where is the F1 pre-season testing 2023 taking place?

Nearly three months after the 2022 finale, Formula 1 is back this week with pre-season testing in Bahrain. Three days of action are planned at the Bahrain International Circuit, which will also host the season-opener next weekend, with the race on 5 March. But first across Thursday 23 February - Friday 25 February, the 10 teams and 20 drivers will be pounding around, logging crucial data as they look to understand their brand-new designs. Testing is a unique time in F1 with something we seldom see in the remainder of the season, so here is RacingNews365.com's guide to everything you need to know from 2023 Formula 1 pre-season testing.

Formula 1 pre-season testing 2023: Full Schedule

Most importantly, when actually is pre-season testing? The action is due to get underway from 07:00 UK time on Thursday 23 February – that's 02:00 ET or 23:00 Thursday night PST. This morning session will run until 11:15 UK time for a period of 4hrs and 15mins before a one-hour lunch break for drivers and teams. The day will resume running at 12:15 UK for a further period of 4hrs and 15mins with the day set to end at 16:30 UK time for a total of 8hrs and 30 mins of running. Friday 24 and Saturday 25 February will also feature identical timings, although these can be disrupted by red flags and breakdowns. RacingNews365.com will be on-site during testing to bring you all the latest news, reactions and comments from both drivers and team bosses. After the total of 25hrs and 30 minutes of testing, everything will remain in Bahrain for the Grand Prix the following weekend.

What are the teams doing during the test days?

A lot of testing is the answer! F1 test days are all about racking up mileage, collecting data and testing the new cars on track for the first time after months and thousands of hours spent developing them in the wind tunnel and through computer simulations. Teams must find out whether everything works as they intended, where the new car is weak, whether it is reliable and most importantly of all: if it is fast. Data-gathering is the name of the game to be poured over by those in Bahrain and the small army back at base trying to crunch the numbers and see what could be in store for the new season. For example, in 2022, Mercedes logged 385 laps in Bahrain last year, nearly seven Grand Prix distances in just three days, as porpoising became the buzzword in the paddock. However, the number of laps recorded are far more important to teams than ultimate lap times. Sure it is good to be top of the time sheets and grab the headlines, but consistent, smooth, reliable running is what each of the team's will be craving – although someone has to finish first!

Will teams be allowed to hide their cars in the pit box?

Since 2020, teams have not been allowed to hide their cars in the garages, meaning there are no barriers, and TV cameras can poke in and nose around. There are exceptions to the rule, such as when a driver crashes and the car is returned to the pits for repairs. Also, if the floor comes off, teams are allowed to close the curtains until it goes back on. This article continues below the photo.

'Flow-vis' and 'aerorakes' explained

During F1 pre-season testing, there are a number of peculiar things which mainly appear at this time of year and very seldom in the season itself. One thing you will see on every car are large 'wash racks' as seen in the photo above. This is an aerorake, used to measure air-flow over the car and around aerodynamically-sensitive parts so teams can judge whether the air is doing what they want it to. A further tool to this array of sensors is Flow-vis paint. Short for 'flow visualisation' it allows the teams to see where the air is going in crucial areas such as the front wing, floor and diffuser. It will be smeared across the areas the team wish to investigate and as the car makes laps, the paint will start to highlight where airflow is going, which is also vital information for the other nine squads to see what their rivals are up to...

What is sandbagging?

All the teams will be playing games to avoid showing their hand and just how quick their car is until qualifying for the first race. This is commonly known as sandbagging. Essentially, it involves teams hiding their true performance by loading the car up with fuel, turning the engine down or having ballast on-board to slow them down a bit. Expect the top teams like Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes to engage in a bit of sandbagging to play down expectations ahead of the season-opener.

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