The 2023 Formula 1 season will start in Bahrain, at the Bahrain International Circuit just outside Sakhir.
Max Verstappen is the defending champion, having won his second driver’s title in a row for Red Bull last season.
Mercedes – with drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell – and Ferrari will hope for tougher competition than in 2022 and can best start on the front foot.
There are six sprint race events this year with the weekend schedule deviating from the normal, but the standard setup is two one-hour practice sessions on Friday, one hour of practice before qualifying on Saturday and then the Grand Prix itself on Sunday.
As has been the case for some time, qualifying and the race will take place under lights in the dark.
When is it?
The 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix runs from Friday, March 3 to Sunday, March 5.
What time do the sessions start?
Friday March 3
First exercise – 11:30am GMT
Second practice – 3 p.m
Saturday March 4
Third practice – 11.30 am
Qualifying – 3 p.m
Sunday March 5
Bahrain Grand Prix – 3 p.m
What TV channel is it on?
Sky Sports F1 have almost exclusive live broadcast rights in the UK this year and even for the next few years with their usual excellent team.
Sky’s qualifying program kicks off at 2pm GMT on Saturday, with coverage of the race at 1.30pm on Sunday.
Channel 4 also has extensive coverage of highlights this year, although we’re waiting for the exact times their coverage will air.
What is our prediction?
Of course, it’s hard to say with tests done alone. Still, it would be hard to see much beyond Max Verstappen and Red Bull, who raced to the championship last season and won it through the Japanese Grand Prix. Their pre-season testing suggested few problems.
Mercedes, who made significant progress from their initial woes, could be a challenger, as could Ferrari, which has a new team boss. McLaren have passed a tough test and can find themselves at the back of the midfield.
What do we know about the Bahrain International Circuit?
circuit length: 5,412km
First Grand Prize: 2004
race distance: 308,238km
Race lap record: 1:31.447 (2005 Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren)
Winner 2022: Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
Number of corners: 15
Overtaking opportunities: Fair enough overall, but again, you’ll probably see it along the long pit lane straight, using DRS in the heavy braking first corner hairpin. A few other chances throughout the round, although they require a bit more courage.
What are the driver line-ups for this year?
Red Bull: Max Verstappen (1) and Sergio Perez (11)
Mercedes: Lewis Hamilton (44) and George Russell (63)
Ferrari: Carlos Sainz (55) and Charles Leclerc (55)
Alps: Esteban Ocon (31) and Pierre Gasly (10)
McLaren: Lando Norris (4) and Oscar Piastri (81)
Alfa Romeo: Valtteri Bottas (77) and Guanyu Zhou (24)
Aston Martin: Lance Stroll (18) and Fernando Alonso (14)
Hare: Kevin Magnussen (20) and Nico Hulkenberg (27)
AlphaTauri: Yuki Tsunoda (22) and Nyck de Vries (21)
williams: Alexander Albon (23) and Logan Sargeant (2)
What are the latest opportunities?
Max Verstappen 5/4
Charles Leclerc 4/1
Lewis Hamilton 5/1
George Russell 14/1
Sergio Perez 16/1
Carlo Sainz 18/1
Fernando Alonso 25/1