Winners and losers from 2023 F1 pre-season testing in Bahrain

Three days of 2023 F1 testing are finally complete, and the pecking order is still undecided. But who are the teams and drivers ending testing smiling or wondering if they should have stayed at home?


The talking now stops after 2023 F1 testing came to an end, as the winners and losers emerge and the wait for the 2023 Formula 1 season opener Bahrain Grand Prix gets shorter and shorter.

In what will be the longest F1 season to date, F1 teams in 2023 will have to find the balance between reliability and speed, which has never been more crucial, with most teams enjoying trouble free sessions during testing.

Some, like Red Bull and Aston Martin hit the ground running in the desert, producing eye-catching lap times, while others are already considering returning to the drawing board.

Although it’s too early to say what the grid will look like at the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix, some F1 teams will go into race week feeling more upbeat than others. But who are the winners and losers from testing?


Red Bull

Max Verstappen dons his Red Bull helmet for day one of 2023 F1 Testing at the Bahrain International Circuit | Mark Thompson/Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Many questioned how much speed Red Bull had lost through their 20% reduction in wind tunnel time, but testing was smooth as butter for the reigning F1 champions.

Max Verstappen showcased speed on days one and two of testing, whilst Sergio Perez got plenty of miles under his belt.

During the final session of the test, the team focused on long runs before switching to the softs completing over 100 laps, with Perez setting the fastest time of the day.

Felipe Drugovich

Felipe Drugovich in action on day one of 2023 F1 Testing in Bahrain | Aston Martin F1 Team

On Monday, Felipe Drugovich looked as though he would be a spectator, but when Lance Stroll was ruled out of testing, the 2022 Formula 2 champion stepped up.

Drugovich was given two-morning sessions and got progressively faster as he found his grove racking the miles in the AMR23, completing a total of 117 laps.

With Stroll likely to be unfit for at least the first two races of the year, Drugovich has a chance to showcase his talents which may land him a full-time drive in 2024.

Aston Martin

Fernando Alonso races into the night at 2023 F1 Testing in Bahrain | Aston Martin F1 Team

Could El Plan finally be working? After testing, things look very rosy for Aston Martin after three superb days of running.

Fernando Alonso has looked right at home since arriving at the team, and the AMR23’s pace has given him a real chance of fighting for podiums again.

Drugovich settled in well, and with some of their midfield rivals struggling, Aston may find themselves on the coattails of Mercedes if they continue to improve.


Lance Stroll

Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll arrives before 2022 F1 testing | REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

The first loser from testing didn’t even turn a lap in Bahrain. Stroll was admitted to hospital on Monday after a minor cycling accident in Spain.

As a result, Stroll missed the whole of testing, and there are now doubts about whether he will race next week because of the severity of the injury.

Even if fit, Stroll will come into the weekend not fully recovered from his injuries, and with no track time under his belt, the season opener may turn into a glorified test session.


2023 Alpine F1 car | Alpine F1 team

With expectations high before the season, Alpine will probably come away from testing unsure as to where they stand in the pecking order.

The A523 may have performed well during the shakedown, but in Bahrain, both Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon struggled with both understeer and oversteer.

Yet team personnel are much more optimistic about the new car, so it could be a classic of sandbagging from the Anglo-French team.


Lando Norris gets his first taste of the 2023 McLaren at pre-season testing in Bahrain | McLaren F1 Team

Even before the teams touched down in Sakhir, McLaren were already playing down their expectations stating the MCL60 wasn’t quite where they wanted.

Testing proved not much better as Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris lost plenty of track time due to technical issues putting them firmly on the back foot.

Although the team played down the issues on the final day of running McLaren, they go into round one admitting they haven’t met their performance goals.

Ed Spencer
FIA accredited journalist
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