F1 Testing 2024: What are the rules?

F1 2023 testing will take place between February 23 - 25 in Bahrain

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The 2024 Formula 1 season gets underway with testing in Bahrain, as teams see their cars on track in anger for the first time ahead of the first grand prix of the year.

Teams will have a total of 25.5 hours on track from February 21-23, before testing wraps with just over a week to go until the 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix on March 2.

However, there’s a few unique rules for testing, and teams will have to be ready from the moment the pitlane light goes green at the Bahrain International Circuit given the condensed testing time of just three days.

How many cars can teams run in testing?

There’s a limit of one car (and therefore one driver) per session, to keep it fair for the smaller teams that might struggle to build two cars and get them to the circuit.

Though that still didn’t stop Williams turning up two days late in 2019, much to the chagrin of then-team principal Claire Williams.

There’s no rule that teams need to run their two F1 drivers either – they can also give time to their reserve drivers. The only qualification is a driver needs to have a Free Practice Super Licence.

In 2021 Roy Nissany had a full day with Williams and Pietro Fittipaldi drove the first day of the 2022 Bahrain test for Haas.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc during the 2023 F1 testing at Sakhir International Circuit | Scuderia Ferrari

Can teams hide their cars?

If anyone has produced a particular innovation, then testing will be the first time it’s revealed to the fans, pundits, and most importantly rival times.

Teams have previously sought to hide their cars but since 2020 there’s been an open-door policy so teams can’t hide their machinery from the TV cameras.

There are exceptions though – if the car returns to the pits for repairs after a crash or if the floor comes off then teams can close shop while they work.

How do track limits work?

Track limits – sure to be a hot topic at the Bahrain GP – won’t be strictly enforced in testing.

In 2021, then-rookie Yuki Tsunoda made headlines as he clocked the second-fastest time of the test – but made a clear track-limits infringement at turn four.

In testing, breaking track limits really doesn’t help anyone. There’s nothing riding on the fastest times, running over kerbs repeatedly could damage the car and it’s bad practice for the Bahrain GP taking place a week later.

Like teachers say when you sneak a peak at your friend’s paper in a primary school test, you’re only cheating yourself.

Nyck de Vries drives his AlphaTauri into the sunset on day one of 2023 F1 Testing at the Bahrain International Circuit | Mark Thompson/Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Are there any tyre rules?

The full range of tyres are available from Pirelli for the teams to use in testing. That’s a range from the hardest compound (C1) all the way up to the softest C5, after ditching the C0 compound from 2023.

The tyres available for the Bahrain GP are C1-3, which is the same as 2022. So teams may choose to focus on those particularly at the end of the test.

For the Saudi Arabian and Australian Grand Prix, the selection will be a step softer with C2-4 available.

What about flags?

Yellow and red flags will be active as usual, just like in practice. However, given the limited time teams and drivers will have on track, anyone who causes a stoppage will be particularly unpopular when they get back to the paddock.

Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who has worked for a number of media organisations, including the Daily Express, The Mirror, Evening Standard, The Independent and Bleacher Report. Joe has been following F1 since when he watched Mika Hakkinen clinch the 1999 drivers' championship, and his first taste of real-life racing action was watching David Coulthard spin off into the gravel at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2001.
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