Mercedes sees signs of ‘progress’ as three days of F1 pre-season testing draws to a close
The Silver Arrows see growth over three days in Bahrain, but concede there is more work to be done
With 2023 Formula 1 pre-season testing having drawn to a close, all ten teams will now pour over mounds of data ahead of the season’s first event, the Bahrain Grand Prix next week.
For Mercedes, the three days of testing offered “progress,” but the team concedes there is still work to be done.
Perhaps the main issue facing the Silver Arrows heading into the 2023 season was whether they had gotten the physics right. Last season saw Mercedes struggle with aerodynamics, with drivers George Russell and Lewis Hamilton battling “porpoising” on the track. While the team eventually solved those issues, the answers came too late in the season for Mercedes to mount a serious challenge in the Constructors’ Championship.
While the first day of testing in Bahrain led the team to believe those and other issues were truly in the rear-view mirror, that picture has become somewhat murkier over the past few days. However, according to Trackside Engineering Director Andrew Shovlin, they are close to where they need to be. “A fair bit of work took place overnight to find some refinements to the car specification and recover our direction on the setup. We do seem to have made progress; both drivers felt the car was in a much better place across the range of conditions today and the balance is closer to what they require on single lap and long run,” said Shovlin in a statement to the media released on Saturday.
He continued: “It’s clear that we still have work to do on car pace but today has given us a much more coherent picture of where we need to focus our efforts. We’ll be using the time ahead of next weekend to go through the data we’ve collected, and aim to extract a bit more lap time.”
Both drivers highlighted the progress the team had made over the past few days. For Russell, whose testing session on Friday was cut short due to the hydraulic issue suffered by the W14, there were still positive notes from the week. “We had a much more positive day today. We took a step forward and made progress with the issues we faced yesterday. I believe we have improved the car over the course of testing and got the W14 in a much better window today.”
Hamilton, who discussed lingering balancing issues prior to Saturday’s session — saying that “[s]ome of the balance limitations that we had last year are just present — struck a more positive note on Saturday. “It has been an interesting few days here in Bahrain,” said the Mercedes driver. “There has been a lot of discovery and the whole team has approached it with the same mentality, working hard, not being complacent and staying focused. We’re not quite where we want to be but it’s a good platform to start from.”
Both drivers also discussed the season-opening Grand Prix, slated for next week, and admitted there is some uncertainty about where Mercedes will stack up when the lap times count. “There is still plenty of work to do but we’re in better shape for next week with more to come,” said Russell on Saturday.
“We don’t know where we will be next week, but we will stay positive and continue to push to the maximum,” added Hamilton.
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For Mercedes, a ‘difficult’ second day of F1 pre-season testing
The Silver Arrows see day two of testing cut short due to a hydraulic failure
The first day of pre-season testing at Bahrain International Circuit brought hope for Mercedes.
The second day? It brought something much different.
After a first day of testing that the team called “productive,” allowing the team to believe that their aerodynamic issues from 2022 were well in the rear-view mirror, their second session on Thursday was cut short, and the Silver Arrows ended their day early having run the fewest laps out of all ten teams.
After Lewis Hamilton completed 72 laps during the morning session, teammate George Russell took to the track for Mercedes’ afternoon session. But early in his run, Russell could not get the Mercedes W14 to shift out of fourth gear, and his steering wheel flashed an indication that the car had experienced a hydraulic failure. Russell brought the W14 to a stop on the track, and waited for help to arrive:
George Russell’s testing session came to an early end due to this stoppage #F1 #F1Testing pic.twitter.com/befVyImmug
— Formula 1 (@F1) February 24, 2023
The issue brought an early close to Mercedes’ day.
“Unfortunately, we had an hydraulic issue this afternoon which cost us some running. Even though we didn’t complete our full programme, we uncovered some interesting things in the data throughout the day,” said Russell after his day was cut short in a statement provided to media including SBNation. “That is a positive and we will analyse these overnight with the aim of finding lap time. We haven’t unlocked everything yet in the W14 and everyone is working hard to do so and maximise our final day of testing tomorrow.”
Even Hamilton, who completed his session in the morning, called the day “difficult” as the team struggled with tyre temperatures during his run.
“It was a difficult morning,” said Hamilton at the end of the day. “The hot temperatures made it challenging with the tyres overheating, as we often see here in Bahrain. We got through our run plan though and it was good to get that mileage in. Everyone is working incredibly hard, staying focused, and we’re discovering everything we can about the W14. We’ve got lots of work planned for the final day of pre-season testing tomorrow.”
Andrew Shovlin, the team’s Trackside Engineering Director, was rather blunt in his assessment of the team’s performance on the second day. “We’ve not had a strong second day; stopping on track with a reliability issue wasn’t great and we have struggled to get the car balanced well across the changing conditions,” said Shovlin after the second day of testing. “We’ve got some investigations going on to understand why this has been such a challenge today when yesterday it was fairly straight forward. That work will continue into the night and no doubt we’ll understand more come the morning. It will be interesting tomorrow to see if we can understand the drop in performance and mitigate the lost track time.”
Still, the news was not all bad for Mercedes. According to a piece from F1, the talk around Bahrain among team bosses this week has the Silver Arrows among Ferrari and Red Bull as the teams to beat this season. “I think it is quite clear, because it looks like Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes are close together. The rest of the field are looking to close the gap to the front teams, and I think the midfield is quite close together,” said AlphaTauri’s Franz Tost.
Mercedes will hope to show more of that form as testing concludes on Friday.
5 NBA X-factors for the 2023 playoffs who aren’t superstars
Push the star players aside. These five members of a rotation could make or break their team’s chances at a title
We’ve all heard the tropes and the common sayings: star players win championships. The NBA season is long and often a war of attrition, where the healthiest and most stable star groupings are the ones cutting down the nets in June.
Stars don’t get there alone, though. The postseason is unrelentingly brutal on role players, guys who either get picked on by those superstars or are tasked with stopping them. A playoff series is a lot like a game of chess: even if the queens, bishops, and knights are doing most of the damage, the pawns make for a great defense and can swing the battle in your direction.
For teams with title hopes, there are a few role players on their team — either in the starting lineup or off the bench — who will have a major swing on the outcome of their series.
Steven Adams, Memphis Grizzlies
By most on-off metrics and other analytic indicators, Steven Adams has been the Memphis Grizzlies most important player. Adams has been out since January 22nd, and the Grizzlies are 4-7 in that span. They’re 9.2 points per 100 possessions better when he’s on the court than when he sits, and especially more potent on the glass. Adams swings the rebounding margin in their favor drastically; the Grizzlies are one of the worst rebounding groups in the league when Adams isn’t on the court.
All of this stands to make Adams an incredibly important piece for the Grizzlies. On offense, he’s a constant screener, an effective finisher, and has improved this season as a playmaker atop the key when he gets touches. On defense, he patrols the paint and locks down other bigs down low, enables Jaren Jackson Jr. to chase blocks as more of a help defender, and is a great partner for Ja Morant in Drop coverage.
On the flip side, Adams is a dreadful free throw shooter. He’s a career 53.6% shooter and is down to an abysmal 36.4% mark on the season. Opponents might have to consider embracing a hack-a-Shaq strategy with him (outside of the final two minutes) to see if the Grizzlies counter by taking him off the floor. From a pure metrics basis, two free throws for Adams this year results in 0.72 points per possession (PPP), a mark far lower than their expected half-court creation.
How Taylor Jenkins balances Adams’ minutes — which are clearly positive but have an area to be exploited — could determine if the Grizzlies win a few close games in April and May. The Grizzlies must survive the rest of the regular season first and monitor his minutes as he is close to returning from a knee injury.
Donte DiVincenzo, Golden State Warriors
In his first year in the Bay Area, Donte DiVincenzo has been a silent assassin for the defending champions. He’s averaging 9 points a game, shooting over 40% from 3 on high volume, has over a two-to-one assist-to-turnover ratio, and is the team’s leader in steals. DiVincenzo had a sensational string of games heading into the All-Star Break as well, averaging 13 points and shooting 53.3% from deep over his final seven contests.
While the Warriors are somewhat small, they don’t force a ton of turnovers, ranking middle of the pack in steals. DiVincenzo brings the offensive firepower as a floor-spacer to go with much-needed aggression on defense. He shoots passing lanes and is looking to get out in transition, an area the Dubs have not hit as hard as they normally do this year.
Donte DiVincenzo is an excellent anticipatory off-ball defender. Sinks briefly to discourage the corner pass, and recovers perfectly to pick-six the pass intended for Kendrick Nunn pic.twitter.com/s5C0ITZz1L
— Charlie Cummings (@klaytheist11) February 14, 2023
A healthy Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Jordan Poole likely limits the minutes that Donte will play in a postseason series. But he’s earned at least a key spot in the rotation, and his championship experience with the Milwaukee Bucks can help stabilize a bench unit suddenly thin on offensive production.
Dean Wade and Isaac Okoro, Cleveland Cavaliers
Here’s a [not so] trick question: which Cleveland Cavalier, with a minimum of 100 minutes played, has the best net on/off rating this season?
Yes, it is Dean Wade, the backup forward the Cavs were so confident in that they benched (and then released) Kevin Love. Wade has been fantastic by almost every metric. He’s drilling 42% of his corner 3-pointers, has sensational defensive metrics when he’s on the floor, and is smart when attacking closeouts. Wade’s offensive role is somewhat limited as the fifth cog in the wheel, but he’s been really good for the Cavs this year and doesn’t get a ton of attention.
While Wade was out with an injury this winter, former third overall pick Isaac Okoro stepped in a big way. He’s shot 44.4% from 3-point range since January 8th. Even though it’s on fairly low volume, his impact in the corners is important around Cleveland’s pick-and-roll attack. When opposing defenses sell out to help on Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley’s rolls to the rim, Okoro will be the open one in the corner and gets tons of looks as teams ignore him in favor of protecting the basket:
The Cavs have been 10-4 since Wade made his return and are 22-9 overall in games he plays (they’re 16-14 when he’s out). Donovan Mitchell, Darius Garland, Allen, and Mobley are the clear stars in Cleveland, but Okoro and Wade are necessary pieces to flank them with efficient, mistake-free play. The role-playing wings holding up in the playoffs could be what allows the Cavs to pull off a surprise run deep into May.
Reggie Jackson, Denver Nuggets
While most of the headlines discuss Russell Westbrook’s new arrival with the Los Angeles Clippers, the signing of Reggie Jackson by the Nuggets could be a major game-changer for them. Just two years ago, Jackson was averaging 18-3-3 in the playoffs for the Clippers and going nuclear from 3-point range. The minutes dipped this year in the City of Angels, but his production as a spot-up shooter was legitimate. According to Synergy Sports Tech, R-Jax drilled 42.5% of his 175 catch-and-shoot jumpers this year and 47.4% of his shots off screens.
Playing in Denver’s Nikola Jokic-centered offense, Jackson will likely play off-ball more in minutes when he’s with the main guys while getting the long leash to go score it on his own with the second unit. His experience makes him a sneaky good acquisition and an important piece for a Nuggets team starved for bench production.
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For Haas, the first day of pre-season testing was all about work
Kevin Magnussen and new teammate Nico Hülkenberg put the Haas VF-23 through its paces in Bahrain
The first day of testing for the 2023 Formula 1 season is in the books, and for the teams expected to be contending for the Constructors’ Championship, it was largely a success. Ferrari’s duo of Carlos Sainz Jr. and Charles Leclerc posted the third- and fourth-fastest lap times of the day, respectively. Mercedes finished the day believing that the W14, their 2023 challenger, had helped the team overcome their aerodynamic issues from 2022. And then there was Max Verstappen, the defending Drivers’ Champion, who not only posted the fastest lap on the day, but recorded the most laps of any driver.
Then there is what we saw from Haas. After finishing eighth in the Constructors’ last season — their best finish since placing sixth in 2018 — Haas is looking to move up the table in 2023. Kevin Magnussen is back in one of their seats, joined by F1 veteran Nico Hülkenberg, making his return to the grid.
Their results on Thursday were not flashy — Hülkenberg took the morning session for the team and posted the 11th-best lap of the day while Magnussen’s afternoon effort came in 19th out of 19 drivers — but for Haas, Thursday was not about competing.
It was about working.
In statements provided by the team to media, including SBNation, both Hülkenberg and Magnussen outlined that the first day of testing was not perfect, but it put the team on a path towards where they want to be. “It’s been an exciting few days but I’m happy to now put the ‘theory’ aside and start the practical part of the job, get in the car again, and live it,” said Hülkenberg after Thursday’s session. “I had good fun, 51 laps was quality work I would say – a bit less than maybe what we wanted to do – but they were quality laps. It’s about starting somewhere and then learn as you go with the car, making changes and see how the car reacts, so in that respect it was a successful morning.”
Magnussen shared that sentiment.
“We had a few little issues but we got through what we planned – maybe two laps were missed,” stated Magnussen, who secured Haas’ first-ever pole position at Interlagos last season. “It went smoothly for the first day of testing and we haven’t got anywhere near qualifying simulations yet so we’ll see tomorrow when we get slightly closer to those levels, but I’m pretty happy so far. I think everything indicates that we’re in a good position and right now it’s about working – not competing – just collecting knowledge on the car.”
Ayao Komatsu, the team’s Director of Engineering, shared that Thursday was about getting the “fundamentals” of the VF-23 right, with performance coming later. “The objective of the first day of pre-season testing was to understand the fundamentals of the car – ride-height, stiffness, balance in the right window and mileage and reliability – so we tried to do as many laps as possible,” said Komatsu after Thursday’s testing sessions. “We didn’t 100 percent meet our objectives, but Nico did 51 laps in the morning and Kevin did 57 laps in the afternoon, which is pretty good. We only had minor issues, but we understand the solution. It’s too early to talk about performance but our initial feeling is good from what we achieved – so it’s a good start for day one.”
There was something else notable about Haas on the first day of testing. During live coverage on F1TV, it was noted that the team’s pit wall was much, much smaller this year, with just three seats for trackside engineers, opposed to the six or more you see from other teams.
While there was speculation that this was being done to save money under the cost cap — as it was noted that the smaller pit wall would save the team $250,000 over the course of the season — it was quickly pointed out that travel expenses are not considered under the cap.
Thankfully Elizabeth Blackstock, who does fantastic work covering F1 and the world of motorsport for Jalopnik, found the answer:
So, I reached out to Haas’ press team to check in, and according to them, the logic behind the reduction is pretty simple: The team realized it wasn’t using all those seats during the race, so cutting down on its pit wall setup would save on freight costs, which have “escalated wildly” this last year.
Part of that comes down to the fact that the shipping industry is still recovering from the chaos of COVID-19. Part of that also likely comes down to the fact that F1 has planned a whopping 23 races this year, and with the way races have been scheduled, teams can expect to travel about 80,000 miles between races alone. That’s not factoring in any returns to the factory between races, either. Consolidating something like the pit wall is a pretty simple way to cut down on expenses, especially for a team that operates on a smaller budget than, say, the multi-million dollar might of Red Bull.
Haas also emphasized its dedication to sustainability to me as well. The series itself has been making an effort to reduce its carbon footprint (which is a bit ironic considering its record-breaking travel this year), and each team has found ways to contribute as well. For Haas, a smaller pit wall means a reduction in emissions — but I imagine that money is a pretty damn attractive prospect as well.
Haas and the rest of the F1 grid returns to the Bahrain International Circuit for the second day of testing on Friday. Magnussen is slated to take the morning session in the VF-23, with Hülkenberg in the afternoon.
With the work started, perhaps now the team can focus on performance.
Has Mercedes solved their aerodynamic issues from 2022?
If the first day of F1 pre-season testing is any indication, Mercedes is back on track
The 2022 Formula 1 season proved rather challenging for Mercedes. In the first season under new aerodynamic regulations, the defending Constructors’ Champions struggled to get the “physics” right with their car, the W13. Mercedes and their drivers, Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, struggled with the impact of “porpoising,” an aerodynamic effect that had that car bouncing on the track, and the two drivers bouncing around in the cockpit.
But if the first day of pre-season testing is any indication, the team looks to have solve that issue for good ahead of the 2023 campaign.
Both Russell and Hamilton took to the track on the first day of testing at Bahrain International Circuit, and their 2023 challenger, the W14, looked much smoother, aside from a few bumpy portions of the track that all the teams highlighted after the first day of action. Russell was up first for the Silver Arrows, and completed 69 laps during the morning session, posting what would be the ninth-fastest time of the day.
Following the morning session, Team Principal Toto Wolff addressed the media, and indicated that the team saw “no bouncing” over Russell’s 69 laps. “It seems to be balanced in the right way,” said Wolff. “There’s no bouncing, which is good news, apart from that big bump at the end of the straight.”
This is notable, because Mercedes’ struggles with porpoising were apparent during testing last year, which Wolff referenced as well, saying that the team “knew they were in trouble” at that point. “The car was just bouncing around and we really weren’t able to drive it correctly. So that is very different. I think we have a solid base now to work from and try to optimise the car, which we haven’t done yet. It’s really just finding out are there any areas that could be a real performance hindrance like last year with the bouncing.”
The team also placed additional sensors which you can see here, behind the steering wheel, to monitor this issue:
Can we do this again, next Sunday in Bahrain lads?
Our first testing tussle of the season #F1 #F1Testing pic.twitter.com/q2K0GhaqW5
— Formula 1 (@F1) February 23, 2023
For his part, Russell called it a “clean” first day with plenty of “positives” in a statement released to the media, including SBNation:
“It was great to be back out in the car and get a first real experience of the W14. It is still too early to say where our performance levels are relative to the competition, but we had a clean day and learned a lot. There are plenty of positives to take away and we can focus on maximising the potential of the car in the coming days.”
Hamilton took over the driving for the afternoon session, and posted the sixth-best time of the day. While lap times are to be taken with a grain of salt, as each team is running a different program or programs during the testing, this is still a good sign for Mercedes.
Following the afternoon session, Mercedes Trackside Engineering Director Andrew Shovlin addressed the smoothness of the W14 during the first day in a statement released to the media, including SBNation:
“We’ve had a solid start to testing. The car has run faultlessly from start to finish and that has allowed us to complete an ambitious programme for day one. It always takes a few days to understand a new car, but we’ve got a reasonable handle on where we want to improve the balance. It was encouraging that it’s a much calmer, more stable platform to work with than the W13.”
Earlier this winter, Wolff talked about the team’s struggles on the Beyond the Grid podcast, highlighting how Mercedes eventually solved the balancing issues late in the season. However, the resolution came too late in the schedule for the Silver Arrows to pose a threat to Red Bull at the top of the table. Still, Wolff surmised at the time that their struggles in 2022 would be a problem for their competitors in the future. “The days we lose are the days our competitors will regret, because we learn the most.”
If Thursday was any indication, he might just be right.
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F1 pre-season testing, explained
Formula 1 returns this week with pre-season testing. Here’s what to expect
Formula 1 is back this week.
While racing does not start until next week, with the Bahrain Grand Prix to kick off the 2023 F1 season, all ten teams will be in Bahrain shortly for three days of preseason testing. After spending months developing their cars for the 2023 campaign, the teams have limited time on track to put their cars through the paces before lights go out for the first race of the season.
With testing week upon us, we thought it was a good time to outline what, exactly, pre-season testing entails.
What is pre-season testing?
Pre-season testing, this year, is a three-day event at the Bahrain International Circuit, site of the season-opening Grand Prix a week later. Over three days this week (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday) teams are allowed to put their cars on the track with minimal restrictions, to get a sense of how their setups, and aerodynamics, will look for the season ahead.
Each day is broken up into two sessions, a morning session which starts at 10:00 a.m. local time and runs for four hours, and an afternoon session which starts at 3:00 p.m. local time and runs for four-and-a-half hours. The importance of that afternoon session is that it will last beyond sunset, allowing teams to get a feel for how the cars will run during night-time conditions.
That will come in handy the following week, as the Bahrain Grand Prix is run at night.
Teams can approach these sessions in a number of different ways, but the main goal is to iron out any major issues, hone set-ups, and make adjustments as necessary. Teams can also isolate what areas of the car need to be upgraded ahead of the season, which begins just over a week later.
Why is it held in Bahrain?
Two reasons, really. The first reason is logistical. With the season beginning at the same track the following week, that cuts down on the travel time for each team.
The second is the layout of the Bahrain International Circuit, which you can see here in a diagram from F1.com:
The design of Bahrain International Circuit allows teams to test their cars under a few different conditions. There are some long straights — including the very long straight coming out of Sector 3, through the start/finish line and into Sector 1 — and some tight corners, most notably in Sector 2. Teams will be able to test out how their cars handle both long straights, as well as tight corners.
How are tyres handled?
Pirelli, the type provider for F1, provides all teams an equal number of each tyre compound. This allows the teams to complete as many laps as they wish with each tyre compound. This allows teams to get a sense of pit strategy for when the season begins.
Are their specific things teams can or cannot do during testing?
Testing is not held under grand prix conditions, and while normal safety requirements must be followed, teams are permitted to design their own testing programs. That includes selecting which drivers are going to participate, including reserve and/or testing drivers who are not slated to compete in the upcoming season.
What is that fluorescent paint I am seeing on the cars?
Remember, aerodynamics is the ballgame in F1. So finding out how the air is flowing over the cars is a huge part of the process, including during testing.
To get a clearer picture of how air is flowing over different parts of the car, teams will use what is called “flow-vis” paint. This is a paint composed of a fluorescent powder mixed with a light oil, applied to the front of the car before it takes to the track. As the car works through the circuit, the paint flows over the car, following the air.
In the above photograph taken from pre-season testing last year, you can see the flow-vis paint on the Williams Racing car driven by Nicholas Latifi.
Do not be surprised if, when watching pre-season testing, teams try and hide the results of a run using flow-vis paint. Often when the cars return to the garage after a run with flow-vis paint, teams cover the car so their competitors cannot get a sense of what is working … and what is not.
Are these the final cars that teams will use this season?
Adapt or die is part of life in F1. Teams are constantly looking to upgrade their cars, looking to squeeze every last bit of power out of them, and shave of every possible millisecond.
To that end, while the cars we will see this week are close to the final product, the results of testing often force some upgrades.
How much should we read into the lap times this week?
In reality? Not much. Given the number of variables at work — teams are trying different programs, with different tyre compounds and different fuel loads — it is usually hard to get a clear sense of how the grid stacks up before the season begins. Remember, while all the tyre compounds are available during testing, once the season begins, Pirelli allocated just three of the five different dry-weather tyre compounds for each Grand Prix. So we might see a team this week put down a fast lap time on a tyre compound that is not going to be in use next week during the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Also, teams do try and hide just how strong they are during testing, saving their full performance capability during the first qualifying session of the season. This is a tactic referred to as “sandbagging.”
Still, in recent history we have seen teams strong during testing come out and secure the pole position at the same track during the season. In 2021 Max Verstappen of Red Bull posted the fastest lap time during testing, and secured the pole at the Bahrain Grand Prix later in the season. In 2020 Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes posted the fastest lap time during testing, and his teammate Lewis Hamilton qualified on pole at the Spanish Grand Prix later that year.
Last season Verstappen was again fastest during pre-season testing, but Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc qualified on pole.
But we know how Ferrari’s season went.
What drivers are testing, and when?
Teams are starting to announce which drivers are running during which sessions. So if you have a favorite driver, you might want to check back as this will be updated.
Days and drivers
Thursday am: Verstappen, Nico Hulkenberg, Yuki Tsunoda, Felipe Drugovich, Alex Albon, Zhou Guanyu, Carlos Sainz Jr., George Russell, Pierre Gasly, Oscar Piastri
Thursday pm: Verstappen, Kevin Magnussen, Nyck de Vries, Fernando Alonso, Logan Sargeant, Valtteri Bottas, Charles Leclerc, Lewis Hamilton, Esteban Ocon, Lando Norris
Friday am: Sergio Perez, Magnussen, Tsunoda, Sargeant, Zhou, Hamilton, Ocon, Norris
Friday pm: Verstappen, Hulkenberg, de Vries, Sargeant, Zhou, Russell, Gasly, Piastri
Saturday am: Perez, Hulkenberg, de Vries, Albon, Bottas, Russell, Gasly, Piastri
Saturday pm: Perez, Magnussesn, Tsunoda, Albon, Bottas, Hamilton, Ocon, Norris
Schedule by team:
Thursday: Zhou (a.m.), Bottas (p.m.)
Friday: Zhou (a.m. and p.m.)
Saturday: Bottas (a.m. and p.m.)
Thursday: Tsunoda (a.m.), de Vries (p.m.)
Friday: Tsunoda (a.m.), de Vries (p.m.)
Saturday: de Vries (a.m.), Tsunoda (p.m.)
Thursday: Gasly (a.m.), Ocon (p.m.)
Friday: Ocon (a.m.), Gasly (p.m.)
Saturday: Gasly (a.m.), Ocon (p.m.)
Thursday: Alonso (a.m.), Drugovich (p.m.)
Thursday: Sainz Jr. (a.m.), Leclerc (p.m.)
Thursday: Hulkenberg (a.m.), Magnussen (p.m.)
Friday: Magnussen (a.m.), Hulkenberg (p.m.)
Saturday: Hulkenberg (a.m.), Magnussen (p.m.)
Thursday: Oscar Piastri (a.m.), Lando Norris (p.m.)
Friday: Norris (a.m.), Piastri (p.m.)
Saturday: Piastri (a.m.), Norris (p.m.)
Thursday: Russell (a.m.), Hamilton (p.m.)
Friday: Hamilton (a.m.), Russell (p.m.)
Saturday: Russell (a.m.), Hamilton (p.m.)
Thursday: Verstappen (a.m. and p.m.)
Friday: Perez (a.m.), Verstappen (p.m.)
Saturday: Perez (a.m. and p.m.)
Thursday: Albon (a.m.), Sargeant (p.m.)
Friday: Sargeant (a.m. and p.m.)
Saturday: Albon (a.m. and p.m.)
Can I watch pre-season testing?
That depends on where you are reading this from, dear reader.
For those joining us from the United Kingdom and Ireland, Sky Sports F1 will broadcast the entirety of F1 testing.
Those outside of the United Kingdom and Ireland will be able to watch testing via F1TV, F1’s streaming service.
This post will be updated as schedules are announced.
The new NBA All-Star format sucks and everyone hates it
Is there a way to make anyone care about the All-Star Game anymore?
Everything has to break before it can be rebuilt — and the NBA All-Star Game has hit rock bottom. This year’s game in Utah wasn’t just the worst game in recent memory, but everyone from the fans, to the players hated it.
The 2023 All-Star Game earned the infamous honor of being the least-watched All-Star Game of all time. Fewer people tuned in this year than watched the Pro Bowl, and almost nobody watches the Pro Bowl. The truth is, the NBA has continually tried to add layers and iterate on the game, and at this point it’s a total mess.
It’s pretty bad when immediately following the game you have a player who scored 35 points talk about how terrible the game was. That’s exactly what Jaylen Brown did when he called the All-Star Game a “glorified layup line.”
This whole weekend was a mess, if we’re being honest. The three point contest had players who were barely sharpshooters in it. The dunk contest was full of players nobody knew. Then to cap it all off we had a confusing, uncompetitive mess where nobody knew what the teams would be except for immediately preceding the event when a live draft was conducted, but softened so reserves were selected first, so nobody was left out.
It was all a big snooze.
Part of the problem can’t be fixed. We’ve seen time and time again that elite players in every league don’t want to risk their seasons by actually competing in a mid-season exhibition game. Nobody is interested in getting hurt and damaging a playoff run. That said, the pride has absolutely vanished from being named an NBA All-Star, and the game is a total joke.
So what can the NBA do to fix this game?
Go back to East vs. West
East vs. West beef is frozen in time and it reached its zenith in the mid 90s, but that doesn’t mean we should just ignore that there are two conferences in basketball. This whole experiment of drafting players and blending everyone together has no consistency from year-to-year, and no reason for anyone to be compelled.
There was always an inherent drama to seeing players feuding all year to be forced together during the All-Star break. Having Isiah Thomas being forced to pass to Michael Jordan, or both Patrick Ewing and Shaq calling for the ball in the paint was glorious. Every possession had an undercurrent behind it, but overall there was an aim to represent something over nothing.
Now it’s all watered down to pointlessness. All-Star drafting might as well be business networking for future teammates. 30 years ago the game went to overtime, the West won by three points. Everyone was used in a rotation that actually made sense — and the ball was shared by all the All-Stars.
In 1993 the West combined for 93 field goal attempts with the leader being Karl Malone with 17. In 2023 Team Giannis shot 123 times with Jason Tatum jacking up 35 shots on his own.
Get rid of fan voting
The entire concept of fan voting was designed to manufacture investment from people, but nobody cares. Voting doesn’t translate into people actually watching the game — and people are idiots.
Certain fanbases love to rally around voting and stuff the ballots, which in turn forces weird weighting systems to play a role to add in player, media and coach voting. Why go to the effort of bending over backwards to jury-rig a system nobody cares about?
We should go to the All-Star game being picked solely by players, coaches, and executives. It’s not that they have some overwhelming insight the rest of us don’t, but it’s so much more fun to direct your ire at authority when you don’t agree with something.
Now when a player is snubbed as an All-Star the go-to answer is “they didn’t get enough votes.” We need back the drama of feeling like the league itself decided, or kept out players to have more to talk about surrounding the game.
Put something on the line
The lack of stakes is a problem in every All-Star game. It’s been suggested that home court advantage in the finals would be a good idea, similar to how MLB used to, but I understand arguments that this process would undermine a team’s work all season long.
We should turn this into something though. Charity is an easy go-to, but how about this: Merchandise for the winners of the eastern/western conference is discounted on NBA Shop for the week following the game — and the MVP gets money to donate to the charity of their choice.
Give back to the fans and get them invested with a fat discount on jerseys, hats etc. Everyone cares when they have some skin in the game, and this would really boost people actually caring about the All-Star Game. Who wouldn’t like to snag a new Giannis or LeBron jersey on the cheap because they worked hard to win? It also makes these players a huge hero to the fans.
The NBA All-Star Game can be fixed, by going back in time
I don’t want to see this game die and wither on the vine. There are too many fond memories from the 90s of seeing all the league’s best players on one court at a time. We just need to get away from every stupid innovation which ruined a good format, and get back to the basics.
Surely the NBA has to see this too, and put a stop to this mess so we never see what happened in Utah again.