‘There is much less leeway than before’: Helmut Marko fires major testing warning

Pre-season testing got underway Thursday morning and will conclude Saturday evening, just a week before the season opener in Bahrain.

Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko is expecting the times to quickly tumble at pre-season testing this week, with there being such a short turnaround from the three days of testing to the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

Thursday morning saw the first green light of 2023, as pre-season testing officially got underway.

Unlike last season where six days of running were conducted, this year will see the teams have just three days at the Bahrain International Circuit to get everything ready for the season opener, which takes place next weekend.

To make matters worse for the teams, each team can only use one car during each session, meaning one driver will always be sitting out.

READ: Helmut Marko makes Ferrari engine claim ahead of Bahrain testing

George Russell and Fernando Alonso have both recently criticised the pre-season format, with Russell having suggested what he feels is the “best compromise” for all parties.

The Mercedes driver wants to see the teams allowed to use both cars during each session across the three days, meaning each driver can benefit from more than just a day and a half of practice before the season starts.

Given how little time the drivers get behind the wheel before the first race of the season, Alonso has even stated that he won’t be performing at “100%” in the first few races.

Each side certainly has less time to get things ready, with Marko believing that the teams focus will quickly change to the first-round next weekend, meaning times will fall “as quickly as possible”.

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“You can’t do big tests – you’ll have to set times as quickly as possible,” Marko told f1-insider.com.

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With the first race being just next weekend, the teams do have significantly less time to understand their new car before trying to get their set-up right ahead of the first Grand Prix, with Marko adding that there is “much less leeway” nowadays to get everything ready for the new season.

“It’s important that you already know at the first race a week later which setup you are going to start the weekend with – both in qualifying and in the race,” Marko added.

“But due to the short testing time, there is much less leeway than before.”