4 October 2013
Two tests, one night race for Bahrain
Paddock gossip suggests that the Bahrain International Circuit will stage the two Gulf region F1 tests, as well as running its race under lights, in 2014.
The 2014 Bahrain Grand Prix looks set to follow in Abu Dhabi's footsteps and run into darkness, while the country's disappointment at failing to land the opening round of the championship looks set to soothed by confirmation that not one, but two, pre-season tests will take place in Sakhir.
Although there had been rumours that the Bahrain International Circuit may be prepared to shift the grand prix's start time to run in cooler evening conditions, McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh let slip that the plan was likely to become reality while speaking with reporters in the build-up to day one of the Korean Grand Prix.
"I think they are going to call it a twilight race," he told Reuters, adding that he had been party to plans being set out for the 6 April race, "I've seen pictures of all the floodlights…"
Despite the annual unrest – and opposition to the race - that has accompanied Bahrain's round in recent years, the kingdom has made a big push to usurp Australia as the opening race in 2014, but provisional calendars issued in the past few weeks insist that Melbourne will continue to stage the curtain-raiser, with Bahrain slotting in to form the second leg of a back-to-back pairing with Malaysia.
To compensate, however, Whitmarsh revealed that Bahrain had been offered the chance to stage two of 2014's expected pre-season group tests. While the likes of Qatar and Dubai had expressed an interest if staging a test should the build-up to round one be altered to take the teams to warmer, sunnier climes, the Briton claims that the F1 field will be stopping off in Sakhir for an expended period.
After a frustrating few weeks spent hoping for a break in the weather while at Jerez and Barcelona this year, there has been a concerted push to move some, if not all, of the tests to the Gulf region, although other circuits were expected to rank above Bahrain due to its place on the race calendar.
"The best circuit for testing out there is Bahrain," Whitmarsh told Reuters,
"The first test, in mid-January, is in Jerez and then [there will be] two tests in Bahrain before the start of the season.”
Sources suggest that the Bahrain tests will take place over 19-22 February and 27 February-2 March, with the opening round of the 2014 campaign taking place in Australia over the weekend of 16 March.
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