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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Motorsport: Warmup in the desert: Formula 1 tests in Bahrain

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World champion Max Verstappen & Co. drive up. Formula 1 conducts its only tests in Bahrain. Time is short. The desert offers at least a hint before the opening race.

Just 95 days after the Formula 1 finale in Abu Dhabi, things are getting serious again – at least a little bit. In Bahrain, from Thursday to Saturday, the only tests before the opening race will take place a week later, also in the desert. But many secrets will remain even after the test drives.

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Where is driving?

Formula 1 around two-time world champion Max Verstappen and record champion Lewis Hamilton meets again in the desert. The only test drives take place on the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir – as in the previous year. The opening race on March 5th will also be held in the kingdom in the Persian Gulf – like last year and the year before. This is a logistical advantage, and there are no travel strains. The drivers can get ready for an emergency on the 5.412-kilometre circuit.

How are the test days going?

On Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 8.00 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. (German time) the Bahrain International Circuit belongs to the teams. Less an hour’s lunch break each, the racing teams have just 25.5 hours on the track. During this time, Red Bull & Co. must put their new designs to the test, test new components and assess the reliability of their new cars. The engineers can collect a lot of data about the engines and compare them with the impressions from the wind tunnel and simulator. However, the cars will be thoroughly revised over the course of the season.

Why are the tests so important?

For the first time in the season, the cars are really on the track. Data extraction and analysis are essential to be able to offer competitive cars. However, many teams regularly practice deceptive maneuvers in order to hide the exact balance of power before the opening race. The consumption of the amount of fuel during a unit is usually not announced. However, the cars will feature various innovations. For example, the floors have been changed as a result of the rules so that the cars do not bounce like they did after the aerodynamics amendment last year.

Are there new faces among the pilots?

Nico Hülkenberg is not entirely new, but he is back. The Rhinelander has replaced Mick Schumacher after three years without a regular cockpit at the US team Haas. The son of record world champion Michael Schumacher is now a substitute driver at Mercedes. Sebastian Vettel is only a Formula 1 pensioner. Newcomers without a Grand Prix appearance are Oscar Piastri (McLaren) and Logan Sargeant (Williams). Nyck De Vries (AlphaTauri) was allowed to play in Monza in 2022 as a substitute for Alex Albon in Williams and scored two points.

What new rules are there?

The cars had to slim down. The minimum weight has been reduced from 798 to 796 kilograms (without fuel). Many teams therefore do without painted surfaces on their cars, which would be unnecessarily heavy. The cure with the bare carbon fiber skin at Mercedes can be seen most vividly. Black makes thin. After the crash of Guanyu Zhou (Alfa Romeo) at Silverstone in 2022, when he flew headfirst into the safety fence, the roll bars were also revised. The titanium protection must have a rounded top so that it does not dig into the ground in the event of an accident. In addition, six instead of three sprint races will be held this season.

Source: Stern

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