Bahrain firming as 2023 F1 opener

Bahrain is almost certain to host the opening round of F1 in 2023

Bahrain is expected to be confirmed as host to the opening round of the 2023 Formula 1 Championship.

A meeting of the Formula 1 Commission in Austria last weekend saw a number of items made public, chief among them a delay to the porpoising technical directive and increase to the cost cap.

Also announced was a subtle change to pre-season regulations which eases the path for pre-season testing to take place outside of Europe.

“The Commission has decided by majority to update the regulations to allow pre-season testing to take place outside of Europe, four days prior to the first Event of the Championship,” a statement from the FIA following the Commission meeting said.

Under the Formula 1 sporting regulations as they currently stand, “[testing current cars] may only take place on tracks located in Europe (unless agreed by the majority of the Competitors and the FIA…).”

Bahrain hosted the second pre-season test this season, after the opening three days of running took place at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Spain.

The Sakhir circuit was also utilised during pre-season testing in 2021.

In both those instances, a vote with a majority in support of the proposition, as noted in the sporting regulations, was required. Going forward that will no longer be the case.

It stands to reason that, the intent to reword the regulations follows an intent to perform testing outside of Europe more routinely.

That is in-keeping with other developments, such as the new Australian Grand Prix deal, which will, more often than not, see it host Round 3 of the season, rather than its traditional opening round slot.

Bahrain has proved a popular opener in recent years, with simplified logistics for teams as Round 1 is held at the same venue as pre-season testing.

This year it was paired with Saudi Arabia, a move which makes sense given the proximity of the two venues.

Formula 1 boss, Stefano Domenicali, has stated that the sport has a desire to group events by region where possible to streamline logistics.

Bahrain and Saudi Arabia are therefore again expected to open the season, before the Albert Park hosts Round 3 on March 26.

Yet to be announced, the 2023 calendar is expected to feature 24 races with the addition of the Qatar Grand Prix, where work has been carried out on a new pit lane to accommodate F1 at the Losail circuit.

South Africa has also been touted as a potential addition – some suggesting it could be confirmed as early as this week – with other events, out of contract this year, predicted to move into a rotational system going forward to make space for the new additions.

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