Christian Horner has quipped if F1 pre-season tyre tests are taken to Bahrain Mercedes should dig deep to pay for the paddock's freight costs as he pushes for winter testing to remain at Barcelona.
The Red Bull team principal wants any F1 tyre tests to stay in Europe in order to keep costs down for the grid as he feels only the wealthiest teams can afford to travel to Bahrain for winter testing.
Currently Pirelli is testing its 2017 prototype tyres with Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes at a number of European circuits during the summer months. On the 12-13 October Mercedes will complete the Europe-based tests at Barcelona with its mule car before heading to warmer climates to continue testing.
READ: Pirelli outlines 2017 tyre tests with data to be shared
Over October and November Red Bull and Ferrari will run private Pirelli tests at Abu Dhabi before a final three-day test for the whole F1 grid at the Yas Marina Circuit to give final validation on the 2017 rubber on the Novembers 29-December 1, immediately after the 2016 season finale at the same venue.
The 2017 testing programme is still being finalised after the race calendar was confirmed last week and Horner is against taking winter testing or Pirelli-specific tests outside of Europe due to costs.
“My personal preference is that we should stay in Europe,” Horner said. “We have got probably 65-70% of the grid that are struggling for budget, struggling for finance, and to be an hour and a half away from your factory at the point that you're developing the car and a new concept car as well, at a time of year when in Spain, last week in February, early March, the temperature is already warming up. To me, it seems irresponsible financially.”
READ: 2017 F1 calendar confirmed by FIA
Horner gave a tongue-in-cheek suggestion to help other F1 teams if winter testing is taken to the Middle East and is against the pressure being applied by the leading manufacturers.
“Unless there is a huge subsidy, which I don't believe there is,” he said. “Unless Mercedes are going to pay for everybody's freight to go to Bahrain.
“It's a bit irresponsible to be honest with you, to be dictating and bullying teams into making that test. We're a team that can afford to go to Bahrain but I believe it's better we should test in Barcelona.”
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