Two days from now the new breed Formula One cars will hit the track in earnest at the Sakhir circuit in Bahrain. Pre-season testing is just three days in total with the first grand prix weekend beginning less than a week later.
Some of the teams have revealed their actual cars while others only revealed their new livery at the overall disappointing F1 car launches for 2023.
Team PU upgrades face track test
The feeling is Ferrari believe they have fixed their fragile power unit and will regain around 30bhp they lost running the engine below full power during the second half of last year.
Mercedes have made few claims about power unit improvements though as TJ13 reported their focus was on reducing internal mechanical friction in the power unit . This has been delivered by a combination of improved machine processes on the bearings and the crankshaft and associated connecting rods.
Honda surprise admittance
Honda surprisingly revealed their 2022 power unit was “severely compromised” as the internal loading was significantly increased due to the new E10 ethanol fuel mix.
Old rivalries set to resume
This may prove sorry reading for Red Bull’s competitors given the reliability of the Honda power unit was solid in terms of completing races.
Once all the new F1 technical details have been poured over and the cars have shown their hands during pre season testing, the F1 focus for many will return to old rivalries and as such Verstappen is already out of the blocks.
When quizzed by CNN over his rivalry with Hamilton and Mercedes, the double world champion appeared to snub them while talking up Ferrari and McLaren instead.
Verstappen talks up Ferrari/McLaren
“It’s not something that necessarily fuels me but there are some great brands out there, especially like Ferrari and McLaren, and I hope all of these great brands that we can all fight for a title one day together. I think it’s also what Formula One wants and needs.”
Red Bull and Verstappen are widely predicted to be firm favourites for both F1 titles in 2023 despite suffering a big reduction when compared to their competitors in wind tunnel and CFD aero testing time.
Last year rarely saw Verstappen and his arch rival on the same piece of track during the races because Lewis’ W13 car was the worst Mercedes had produced for years.
In fact Hamilton was lapped by the Dutchman in Emillia-Romagna with over a third of the race remaining.
Verstappen dismisses Hamilton bad blood
However, at the penultimate F1 weekend in Brazil the pair came together at the Senna Esses in an incident that wrecked Hamilton’s only hope of winning a race in his 2022 campaign.
Verstappen was asked whether this revealed there was lingering bad blood between the two following the bitter race to the drivers’ title the previous year.
“I think we are professional enough to move past those things,” replied Verstappen. “We are racing drivers, sometimes emotions go high but that’s normal. We are full of adrenaline.”
RB19 spy shots suggest ‘zeropod’ design
Should Verstappen claim his third consecutive drivers’ title this year comparisons will surely be formed with the Schumacher era at Ferrari.
The true RB19 challenger will be in full view for the first time in Barhain this week following Christian Horner’s admission the car revealed at the launch was for promotional purposes only.
“To do it here in the US, in this market is the first time ever, obviously, for Red Bull Racing. What you’ve seen today obviously isn’t a total reflection of what will hit the track in Bahrain in a couple of weeks’ time.”
Spy shots of a Red Bull filming day last week suggest the RB19 may have adopted the zeropod styling of the 2022 Mercedes car.