The Bahrain International Circuit could be poised to add final preparations for this year's Formula One world championship to the prestige of hosting the opening round, after revealing that it was chasing dispensation to run an extra group test ahead of the curtain-raiser.
While F1 testing is now subject to strict controls in the name of cost-cutting, various teams are reportedly in talks about staging a group session in the middle of the desert, aware that Sakhir offers a more dependable climate than that on offer at the Spanish venues currently slated for pre-season preparations.
BIC track boss Martin Whitaker has confirmed that the proposal is real, despite admitting that it potentially contravenes the 15-day limit on pre-season testing, much of which is due to take place at Valencia's Circuit Ricardo Tormo, Jerez and the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona from the start of next month.
"If teams who want to come here can get the permission of their rivals, we would be glad to welcome them," Whitaker told the region's Gulf Daily News
, "Right now, it is still too early to say for sure - a lot of them are not even ready to run their new cars - but we are confident we could have one or two come out to Bahrain and test before the season.
“Nowhere else in the world can teams get the most out of a test day than here in Bahrain. Out of the 38 days of F1 testing we've had over the years, only two have been lost due to poor weather. You don't get that in Europe where you're usually still trying to get the frost off the track at 11am!"
Ferrari and Toyota have been the most regular visitors to Bahrain in recent years and, despite losing track time to sand being blown onto the track, the latter showed the benefit of testing there by annexing the front row for the 2009 race.