The F1 off-season could start and end in the Gulf region after teams all but confirmed that they would hold a final group test in Bahrain ahead of the expected season-opener next March.

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.

McLaren team boss, and FOTA chairman, Martin Whitmarsh confirmed the planned expansion, but admitted that in-season testing was unlikely to return just yet.

"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," he told Reuters, "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 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.

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