RESULTS: Japanese Grand Prix – Free practice results (2)
The FIA could give teams the choice of conducting their pre-season testing at either the Circuit de Catalunya or the Bahrain International Circuit at the same time as an argument over which venue to choose for the eight days rumbles on.
As it stands, the Circuit de Catalunya has been the preferred option in recent years primarily for its combination of low logistical costs and representative data thanks to the high loads it produces compared with other European locations.
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However, with the change in technical regulations – specifically the Pirelli tyres – putting even more importance into the relatively scant eight days of testing available to the teams, there are concerns that the cooler February temperatures will be unable to replicate the conditions needed in order to acquire accurate data for the wider, more aggressive tyres.
Given it will be the first opportunity for Pirelli to test its tyres on full 2017-specification cars, it has instead expressed a preference to instead test in Bahrain, where the almost certain good weather will allow for uninterrupted running.
It is a location preferred by Mercedes, which has reportedly lobbied other teams to follow suit, though Red Bull and Williams remain steadfast in its opposition for cost reasons, with Christian Horner saying Mercedes should be prepared to 'foot the bill'.
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Should a unanimous agreement not be reached, Pirelli's Mario Isola has hinted a solution could be tabled that would see Bahrain and Barcelona both made available for teams, meaning cars could run on the same days at different venues.
Though not allowed in the current regulations, Isola says it is a strategy that could prove beneficial to Pirelli, even if he doesn't expect teams to agree to it
“We have some meetings scheduled for this weekend together with the FIA and some teams to discuss further this situation,” he said. “It's no mystery that we would prefer to go to Bahrain, for us it's much better as we can have a far more representative situation and better understand the behaviour of the compounds. But there is still open discussion between Barcelona and Bahrain.
“We are prepared to supply logistics for both tests, if they are going to happen. Of course it is not our decision but if the decision is to give them the freedom to go to Barcelona or Bahrain, in the same days, we will provide the logistics for both the tests.
“It is interesting Barcelona mainly depends on the condition we find, because it could be very cold, could be acceptable, it's difficult. It is also possible to have the test in two different locations but my feeling is that it's not going to happen, for many reasons… Some teams can feel this is not fair. I don't think it's going to happen.”
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