Remind your F1 buddy (if you have one) to cancel all plans for this weekend as F1 racing finally makes its return! We kick off the 2023 race calendar with the inaugural race which will be held under the floodlights at the Bahrain International Circuit. This fantastic circuit features 3 long straights, 15 corners and two DRS zones which all together should promote some fantastic overtaking opportunities.
The cars driving around Sakhir are usually travelling at near top speed for most of the lap, with turn one being one of the corners to promote overtaking, so expect plenty of action there. Expect some possible overtaking at the very tricky turn 10 which heads into the second DRS zone. The downhill left-hander requires hard but gentle braking and full commitment with the chosen racing line.
Pre-season testing took place last week over the course of three days at the Bahrain International Circuit, so the teams should have plenty of data heading into the race. Although their focus at the time must have been on aerodynamics and general set-up. Still, testing should give us a great indication of the teams’ performance:
Red Bull had the fastest car during testing, with Mercedes closely behind them although I do think that Red Bull still have the edge at this point. Expect this to fade as the season reaches mid point due to the team being restricted to their wind tunnel runs and thus their development. Last year the FIA announced that the Austrian team exceeded their budget cap and thus breaking the rules. Apart from fining the team heavily, they were also restricted on wind tunnel runs which will surely impact their season later on.
Retirements at this stage of the race are almost certain to happen, but to who? It’s hard to pinpoint exactly at this stage but if there’s a retirement expect some other prop bets such as safety car or virtual safety car – Yes.
The cars themselves seem to have gotten quicker over last year’s initial timings and if the above is anything to go by, it should give us a clear indication ahead of qualifying. Having said that I’m sure we haven’t seen the full potential out of all the teams just yet, particularly Mercedes as their team boss Toto Wolff stated that they’re still not running at 100% potential. Although they seem like they picked up the pace over last year, Red Bull and Ferrari are not that far behind.
Do not discount Aston Martin from giving us a surprise as they have impressed so far with the car that they’ve built for the season with their new signing. 41 year old Fernando Alonso put in some hard work during testing to give his new team a very positive time ahead of the opening GP weekend. Alfa Romeo seems to have built a decent car showing off a very positive time at the end of day 3 by classifying as 3rd fastest, ahead of the two Ferraris.
If you don’t know what sandbagging is, it’s when F1 teams are purposely not showing off their full pace, power, speed etc during testing or practice. Mercedes are notoriously known for doing this although last year, their sandbagging took a few months to solve. I still think that there’s more potential to come out of this year’s cars. F1 is a highly competitive sport with some very smart and intelligent people working behind every team. Of course not everyone wants to show off their full potential, secrets and ideas until the very last possible moment.
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