The Formula One World Championship revs up once again this weekend with the Bahrain Grand Prix, taking place at the Bahrain International Circuit following a prolonged winter break.
The 2023 season features 23 rounds, three of which are held in the US, and welcomes three new drivers: Oscar Piastri at McLaren, Nyck de Vries at AlphaTauri, and Logan Sargeant at Williams. Additionally, Nico Hulkenberg makes his return to F1 as a driver for Haas. The Aston Martin team is also noteworthy due to the presence of Fernando Alonso, who is driving for the first time, alongside Lance Stroll. Furthermore, both Ferrari and Williams have new team bosses – Fred Vasseur and James Vowles, respectively.
The season is also of particular interest due to the presence of reigning world champion Max Verstappen for Red Bull Racing, as he seeks to win his third title, and Lewis Hamilton for Mercedes-Benz AMG, who is vying for a record-breaking eighth championship.
The Bahrain Grand Prix has replaced the Australian Grand Prix to mark the beginning of the season. The drivers are familiar with the 3.36-mile track, which was the site of pre-season testing, as it is composed of high-speed straights and hairpins, together with heavy braking. Notably, Turn 10 is a tricky corner, as it has a long, combined corner entry that becomes tighter at the apex, while the track drops away at the apex.
Pirelli has selected its hardest tire compounds for the race, namely C1 as the White hard, C2 as the Yellow medium, and C3 as the Red soft. The C1 is a new compound this season and is based on last year’s C2 compound to reduce the performance gap between the harder compounds in the range.
The weather forecast for Saturday’s qualifying session and Sunday’s race appears mild, with temperatures expected to reach 83 degrees F. Sand from the surrounding desert can be blown in, reducing grip levels, so a sticky adhesive substance has been sprayed on the sand to combat this. Furthermore, teams should take into account quickly changing track temperatures, as the race starts at 6 p.m. local time, and the track temperature is hottest at the start and cools off as the race progresses. Last year’s winner in Bahrain was Charles Leclerc, driving for Ferrari.