F1 pre-season testing 2023: UK start time, how to watch the first on-track action

Three months after the chequered flag dropped in Abu Dhabi, Formula 1 returns for 2023. Here is all you need to know about the 2023 F1 pre-season testing sessions, including the start time and how you can tune in.

This year, Bahrain plays host to the first running of the field. The 5.4 km-long circuit provides a tough examination for each team’s new car thanks to its variety of hard-braking zones, high-speed corners, and four decently-sized straights.

In addition, the Bahrain International Circuit makes for a convenient test site: after all, the opening race of 2023 will take place on the same track.

Historically, while being quick is always great, most of the F1 paddock will hope to see reliability during pre-season testing. Therefore, teams will strive to do as many laps as possible to accumulate data. We should see drivers completing hundreds of laps throughout the three days of testing.

However, there will not be 20 cars on track in Bahrain this weekend. Each outfit can only run one of their two cars during the test sessions. So, teammates must split driving time with each other.

Expect to see aero rakes, plenty of high-viz paint, and some technical adjustments to all the cars throughout the 2023 F1 pre-season testing. But what time does it start?

F1 pre-season testing: UK start time

The grid will have access to the track in Sakhir for three days, from Thursday 23 February to Saturday 25 February. Each test day runs from 7am UK time through to 4:30pm.

So, you can settle in and relax in front of the TV for a whole day of Formula 1 action. Although it may not be the all-out excitement of a Grand Prix, it is a fascinating time to see the intricacies of car development.

Testing should also help you discover who may be looking fast this year.

Where to watch the test sessions

As they still hold the UK television rights to F1, the 2023 pre-season testing sessions are all on Sky Sports. Their coverage is only on Sky Sports F1; this is channel number 406, or 506 on Virgin Media.

To gain access to this service you must have a Sky Sports subscription which, unfortunately, does have a cost involved.

Alternatively, NOW TV offers one-off payments, such as buying a day pass. You thus could watch one day of the testing for just a one-time fee. They also offer a monthly sports package, meaning you can watch Sky Sports on any device for a monthly payment.

The coverage on Sky Sports F1 begins at 6:50am on all three testing days. The broadcaster will show the full day’s running, meaning their show will end at 4:30pm, like the sessions. However, Sky also have scheduled hour-long breaks from test coverage at 11:15am on all three days.

This upcoming F1 pre-season testing promises to be some intriguing days of running. Can anyone catch up to the dominant Red Bull squad? Will porpoising, an issue that plagued the 2022 grid, still be a problem? Can Mercedes find their championship-winning pace once more?

We cannot wait to find out.  

Featured image credit: Getty