F1: Bahrain Preseason Test – Lap Time Analysis
Pre-season testing concluded today at the Sakhir circuit in Bahrain, which will host the first grand prix of the 2023 season next week. Pirelli put the entire P Zero range at the disposal of the teams, with six different slick compounds available as well as the Cinturato intermediates and full wets, plus a prototype C3 produced at the back-up F1 factory in Turkey. All the teams were allowed to run 30 sets of slick tires and two sets of prototypes per car, with a minimum pressure of 21psi at the front and 18.5psi at the back. Tire blankets were used at 70°C, with a maximum two-hour heating time.
The fastest driver overall throughout the three days was Red Bull’s Sergio Perez with a time of 1m30.305s, set with the C4 compound today. Second-quickest was Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton with a time of 1m30.664s on the softest C5 compound, while Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas was third with a 1m30.827s on the same C5 compound. The fastest time from last year’s pre-season Bahrain test was 1.9 seconds slower than this year, using the 2022-specification C4.
On the final day of the test, the teams discovered the key to managing degradation better, as shown by today’s long runs compared to those of the previous days. Today’s track temperatures peaked at 44 degrees before settling down to 27 degrees as evening fell, allowing lap times to fall further. Temperatures remained consistent throughout all the days of testing and did not negatively affect performance, which benefitted today from less wind compared to Thursday and Friday, as well as the normal track evolution.
The fastest driver on the first day of the test was Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who set a time of 1m32.837s on the C3. During the opening day, the teams focussed mainly on car setup. Alfa Romeo’s Guanyu Zhou went quickest on Friday thanks to a time of 1m31.610s on the C5. Throughout the final two days most drivers carried out long runs as race simulations, using the three compounds nominated for the Bahrain Grand Prix.
MARIO ISOLA, PIRELLI MOTORSPORT DIRECTOR
“These three days of testing have been very useful for the teams, the drivers, and also for us. The teams have been able to fine-tune the setup of their cars in preparation for next weekend’s race, while the drivers have had time to find confidence with the new construction in the latest Pirelli range, which this year is enhanced by a new compound that will be used at the forthcoming Bahrain Grand Prix. The lap times recorded today are surprising as they are on average around 1.5 seconds quicker compared to the same compounds in 2022. That’s even more significant on a circuit like Sakhir, where traction and braking are key and there aren’t many longer corners that work the tires hard. The new C1, which could be a good option for the race next weekend, was also well-received by all the teams, showing a good level of performance. With a wider range of tires, we now have more flexibility in the nomination, so we can choose the compounds that are best suited to each circuit.”