In the buildup to the Korean Grand Prix, a group of team managers has decided that the final two preseason tests for 2014 will be held at the Bahrain International Circuit from February 19-22 and then from February 27-March 2.
Event organizers as well as the FIA have been debating for months which Middle Eastern venue would host a preseason test. Among the candidates, besides Bahrain, was the Abu Dhabi circuit, on which the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is held, and the Dubai International Circuit. The latter two were eventually deemed unsuitable to testing, and Bahrain was finally picked.
The decision finalizes the testing schedule, with the first event set to take place at Jerez from January 28-31.
This testing role for Bahrain comes amidst the circuit’s increasing role in Formula One. Talks about the circuit hosting the season opener were on the table but never agreed upon, and the 2014 event is set to take place at night under intense lighting just as in Singapore. Bahrain wants to expand its presence in Formula One, and these plans should ensure that happens.
Arguably, the main reason for Bahrain’s role in pre-season testing, is temperature. The 2013 preseason tests were plagued by rain and almost freezing temperatures. This lead to irrelevant data when it came to the tires, and caused most of the headaches surrounding the tires early in the season. With rain not usually forecast in Bahrain, relevant and consistent data will be able to be captured.
This change also means that the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain, the venue for the Spanish Grand Prix, will not host a preseason test for the first time in many years. Its layout is loved by all in the paddock for its wide array of corners, ranging from long and swooping to slow and direct. It is often said that if your car goes well at this track, it will go well everywhere.
Bahrain should offer teams just as varied a testing experience as Spain and, partnered with the Jerez circuit, should make the build up to the 2014 season very interesting.