It looks like Formula One is about to confirm an extra group test in Bahrain ahead of the season-opener next March.
This gives the teams the chance to get to grips with the new tyres supplier by Pirelli and would be the sixth in the winter if teams’ group FOTA can push it through.
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team boss and FOTA chairman, confirmed the planned expansion, but admitted that in-season testing was unlikely to return just yet.
He told Reuters news agency: “We’ve agreed there will be six tests during the winter and, probably, the last one will be in Bahrain, but it hasn’t been quite agreed yet.
“I personally would like to see more testing, but I am respectful of the fact that there are teams still hurting. We want to make sure that it’s cost effective for the small teams.
“We’ve now got at least six tests in the winter, so that’s a step further forward. What we haven’t got at the moment is agreement to test during the season. I’d like to see a couple of tests, but we’ve made some progress. To have six tests in the winter is more than we’ve had in recent years.”
The Bahrain test would be the sixth of the winter if teams’ group FOTA gets its way, and would follow the two sessions planned for Abu Dhabi immediately after this year’s finale and the usual trips to Spain to run in Barcelona and Valencia.
The Abu Dhabi tests, which will take place immediately after the second grand prix at the Yas Marina circuit, are likely to be set aside for teams to run with the new Pirelli tyres and feature young drivers not yet in F1.
Testing is currently banned once the season has started, with limited track time during the European winter as part of cost-saving measures.
Alex Kapadia, Operations Team