What is F1 preseason testing? Dates, circuit and everything else you need to know about Formula One testing

By | February 22, 2023

With the return of Formula One now less than two weeks away, the teams and drivers need to get to grips with their new cars for the 2023 season as preseason testing commences on February 23. 

Over the past few weeks all ten teams have unveiled their fresh liveries for the upcoming campaign, with Mercedes’ decision to return to an all-black look amongst the biggest talking points from the launches.

Preseason testing will be the first time that we see all ten teams gather in one spot this year, with multiple drivers hitting the track for the first time with their new teams in a semi-competitive session.

For all the details on 2023 F1 preseason testing, including where and when the event will take place, The Sporting News has you covered. 

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What is F1 preseason testing?

Well in essence, preseason testing in Formula One is the first time that all ten teams will gather on the same track to test their new cars. 

It represents a limited amount of time that F1 constructors have to test out their new rides for 2023 before the action truly starts with the Bahrain Grand Prix on the first weekend of March. 

As well as their three days of testing — which is less than the team’s used to get each preseason — each team also gets two 15km demonstrations and two 100km promotional events. These events are heavily restricted however to stop teams gaining large amounts of information when in process.

With less preseason testing time, last season saw many cars struggle with issues. 

The largest of those problems came in the form of porpoising which hit a number of the teams on the grid last season, most notably Mercedes. In essence, this phenomena occurred when air was sucked under the car at high speeds causing instability which led it to jump up and down on the straights. 

Thankfully, all teams finally eradicated that problem last season at some point or another and as there are no substantial regulations changes for this season, we shouldn’t see too much porpoising in 2023. 

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Where and when is F1 preseason testing?

Preseason testing for the 2023 F1 season will take place at the Bahrain International Circuit. 

Starting on Thursday, February 23, the preseason session this season will last a full three days and end on Saturday, February 25.

The format works out that each day will be split into two separate sessions, the first of which will last for exactly four hours. Each driver and team will then have an hour long break before resuming later in the day for four and a half hours.


Each day the new cars will be put through their paces, operating on the hot track during the day before dealing with cooler conditions in the evening. 

Only one weekend of preseason testing will take place this season, unlike last year when teams got two separate weekends to push their cars to limit. As well as testing in Bahrain in 2022, the weekend before saw the team gather in Barcelona as the FIA granted two weekend’s worth of testing given the radical car changes that were implemented in the off-season. 

Bahrain has been chosen solely this time around as the following week the 2023 Formula One season will start with the Bahrain Grand Prix. 

The nature of the track also gives teams the chance to test their cars in different situations, owing to the tracks long, fast straights and tight, challenging corners. 

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What are the devices used on cars for F1 preseason testing?

What you might notice during preseason testing is that F1 constructors put strange looking instruments on their cars around the Bahrain International Circuit. 

These various instruments are filled with sensors and are used in effect to see how the air flows over the cars. Teams can then take that data to make more improvements in order to gain those crucial time advantages. 

Fluorescent flow-vis paint may also be used for the same purpose so if you see a part of a car looking bright yellow, don’t worry, that’s normal! 

The last thing to note is that only one car from each team can take part in a preseason testing session at one time, a decision taken to limit traffic on the track at any one time. 

Teams can decide which drivers run in which sessions and can make changes throughout if needed. There’s also no limit in terms of how long each car can run during a testing session.