2023 Formula One Bahrain Grand Prix

Alpha Tauri 2023 F1 car in pre-season testing at Bahrain.jpg

Who will win in Bahrain this weekend?

  • Max Verstappen

    Votes: 306 54.5%
  • Sergio Perez

    Votes: 25 4.5%
  • Charles Leclerc

    Votes: 56 10.0%
  • Carlos Sainz

    Votes: 4 0.7%
  • George Russell

    Votes: 9 1.6%
  • Lewis Hamilton

    Votes: 33 5.9%
  • Esteban Ocon

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Pierre Gasly

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Lando Norris

    Votes: 1 0.2%
  • Oscar Piastri

    Votes: 3 0.5%
  • Valterri Bottas

    Votes: 2 0.4%
  • Zhou Guanyu

    Votes: 2 0.4%
  • Fernando Alonso

    Votes: 97 17.3%
  • Lance Stroll

    Votes: 3 0.5%
  • Kevin Magnussen

    Votes: 3 0.5%
  • Nico Hulkenberg

    Votes: 3 0.5%
  • Yuki Tsunoda

    Votes: 4 0.7%
  • Nyck Devries

    Votes: 3 0.5%
  • Alex Albon

    Votes: 1 0.2%
  • Logan Sargeant

    Votes: 6 1.1%

  • Total voters
Winter is over and Formula 1 is back. This weekend, the 2023 F1 season kicks off with the Bahrain Grand Prix. Plenty of stories headline this first race of the year, so here's all you need to know going into the weekend.

Image Credit: Red Bull Content Pool

The winter break has come to an end. Pre-season testing is complete. The teams, drivers and cars are all ready. It's time for the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix. Opening the season this weekend, the event is nothing if not full of unknowns while several stories will see their first chapters write themselves.

Located near the city of Sakhir, the Bahrain International Circuit will play host to the first race of the F1 season. The Grand Prix layout, identical to that used in pre-season testing just one week ago is a 5.4-kilometre track comprised of 15 corners, most of which involve heavy braking zones. In fact, this circuit is very much a stop-start experience with its many long straights and slow-speed hairpins.

Last year, Red Bull's Max Verstappen and Ferrari's Charles Leclerc battled it out for the win before the Red Bull's engine ground to a halt. This year however, reliability is looking much better for both teams, so here's hoping for a race-long spectacle.

Winter form going into Race 1​

One week before this first race of the season, the F1 paddock arrived in Bahrain for pre-season testing. With every team running different strategies, fuel loads and tyres throughout the 3-day event, it's almost impossible to work out which times are relatable. But they do give a vague form of which car looks strong.

Among the surprises emerging from testing is Aston Martin's pace. The Silverstone-based team has perhaps experienced the strongest improvement from last year. With Fernando Alonso now behind the wheel, the AMR-23 looks to have the legs on even the Mercedes. Not only is the British Racing Green machine fast, it seems strong on long runs with minimal tyre degradation. As many have been saying, expect The Stroll-Alonso duo to contend in this first race.

On the other end of the spectrum, McLaren has certainly had a difficult winter. After fighting to fix issues with its car last year, the Papaya outfit is seemingly struggling with its car once again. Throughout testing, the drivers were complaining about inconsistent balance and a lack of confidence. If you've ever tried racing a twitchy F1 car in simracing, you'll know that isn't a fun experience.

This lack of consistency and pace has dropped McLaren into an ever more fierce midfield rivalry. Behind the top two of Red Bull and Ferrari sit a second group of Mercedes and Aston Martin. But behind these secluded groups lies a pack of cars which all seem to have relatively similar pace. Even the Williams which struggled last year seems to have found enough pace to re-join the battle. Throughout the year and depending on tracks, this pack of six teams will surely shuffle its order making for unpredictable and exciting racing all year-long.

Rookies with something to prove in F1 2023​

At an individual driver's level, the 2023 Formula 1 season provides plenty of interesting stories. From young drivers looking to show they're worthy to older, returning drivers making sure they still have what it takes.

Three rookies are joining the grid this year and must prove their worth. Logan Sargeant having finished the 2022 F2 season in just fourth place will be at the top of that list. However, with the known quantity of Alex Albon alongside him, he might have the toughest job of them all. Akin to what George Russell did in his Williams days, Sargeant must out drive the FW45 to show he can help the team on its quest up the order.

Nyck Devries is an odd example of a Formula 1 rookie. He won the 2019 F2 championship before moving off to endurance racing, later claiming the Formula E title in 2021. Now, he has finally bagged himself a seat at the ripe age of 28 and can't be seen to falter up against his teammate. Yuki Tsunoda, despite showing glimmers of excellence at times, has remained rather anonymous throughout his two-year F1 career. As a result, FIA World Championship winning Devries can't fall behind his Japanese stablemate if he is to stay in the sport for long.

The last of the rookies for this year is Oscar Piastri. The young Australian sparked major controversy before even reaching the heights of Formula 1 last year. Originally within the Alpine Academy, he signed for McLaren in a move many saw as a stab in the back to the French squad. Now in his first season, he must show to his British team that he was worth the hassle and bad press. However, he is up against Lando Norris, the driver many see as the next big thing.

Inter-team rivalries throughout the 2023 season​

It seems McLaren's pairing is in a lose-lose scenario at this point. If Norris outdoes his younger, fresh-faced rookie teammate, attention will draw around Ricciardo's replacement wondering if it was the right move. Whereas if Piastri comes out of the gates running and exceeds Lando's capabilities, the Brit will lose much of his stock. Furthermore, he is tied to the team until the end of 2025. If he is to be beaten by Piastri for the next three seasons, not even the lower teams will have him.

Another driver line-up in a career-deciding battle this year is the Alpine duo of Ocon and Gasly. If rumours are to be believed, the two French hot shots have a not-so friendly past which is sure to raise its head at some point this year. The conflict will only become stronger when both drivers realise they are contending for the team's lead driver role. With Alonso now leaving, Esteban Ocon will firmly believe himself to be the top dog. But looking to exert his dominance after a rough 2022 season, Pierre Gasly will be anxious to challenge his countryman.

What to expect for the Bahrain Grand Prix​

With a harsh track surface and many hard braking areas, Bahrain consistently offers a wide range of pitstop strategies that mix up the racing. Last year, race winner Charles Leclerc as well as his second place teammate, Carlos Sainz took the chequered flag after stopping three times for tyres. This is great for fans that cry out in despair when races like Monaco or Abu Dhabi go the distance with a single stop in the middle.

As well as providing a different style of race when it comes to the tyre strategy, Bahrain's long straights typically make for great overtaking opportunities. In fact, back-to-back straights like the first sector mean drivers get a second go at completing an overtake or find themselves being re-passed within the space of a few corners. This is what made the 2022 event so entertaining to watch as the Red Bull-Ferrari battle heated to boiling point right from race 1.

Since last year's event, the FIA has made modifications to the length and power of DRS, so the immense runs of yesteryear should no longer be an issue. Instead, cars will close up enough to make a lunge on the brakes. If anything, we should therefore see more wheel-to-wheel battles similar to last year's race-lead fight. That certainly is an exciting prospect.

The Bahrain Grand Prix weekend kicks off on Friday, March 3 with Free Practice. Competitive running will get under way with Qualifying on Saturday at 4pm CET. The race itself starts at 4pm CET on Sunday. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
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Angus Martin
Motorsport gets my blood pumping more than anything else. Be it physical or virtual, I'm down to bang doors.


After FP3 its obvious that Magnussen will have a much harder time this season to keep his team mate behind him :laugh:

Oh nooo.
Haas why didnt you just keep mini Schumi instead of this new one? :(:(

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Hülkenberg was as quick to knock of the rust as his team mate was last year. Strong effort!

Though, seemingly the track developed rapidly so don't quite understand Haas sent out Kevin that early, knowing he was in the risk zone. When Hülkenberg hesitated I was thinking they prepared the drag trick, but was not the case, which makes it just pointless now.

But cannot take anything from Hülkenberg - welcome back! :inlove:
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Now it could've been really nice to match up Alonso and Vettel in AMR.

Oh dreaming, Vettel is way on other, seemingly irreversible, minds by now other than motorsports...but, if just....
I drank too much hopium before this session. Had to drink copium as an antidote to accept that Alonso outqualifying both Mercs is still a minor win.
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~Can you hear the horns Fernando?
~Can you see the front row Fernando?
~Did you think your Merc engine could keep up Fernando?
~Something was in the air last night,but now it's bright, and your third row Fernando....
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Top 3 teams are closer than what it seems. Ferrari opted to not let Leclerc go out a 2nd time, and Alonso's Q3 effort was scruffy, he made several mistakes that I reckon costed him no less than 2 tenths. I think that even with RBR at the front row, we will have some serious fight in the Top 5 tomorrow.
Carlos wrecks LeClerc at T1, Hamilton passes several cars in the malay to take 3rd and that is it for the front. Alonso brake checks the mid pack runners continually to keep them at bay for 4th.
I don't expect anything crazy from this season. the same driving behind and passing on straights..any of us can pass on a straight road, so it starts to feel a bit like the hustle and bustle we've already seen. the race should be divided into two parts so that there would be some excitement. and if its rain Someday lets give drivers green light because raining is part of racing. I miss Kimi
Maybe the Drivers should change seats, top ten to bottom ten in reverse order after every race, that way a constructor couldn't favour a particular driver and the drivers championship would be decided by getting the most out of your car.
We could wait until the race to actually see who's doing what to who,
Where's Bernie when you need him?

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