Formula 1 pre-season testing is set to take place at Barcelona next year across March 2-4.
The Spanish circuit has hosted all or part of pre-season testing since 2015, but was at risk of being replaced by Bahrain’s Sakhir track for a reduced three-day schedule for 2021.
January update: F1 2021 testing has been since moved to Bahrain and a later date
Bahrain’s a preferred location for the teams from the perspective of good weather and more running, but Spain is better logistically – particularly with the lingering impact of the COVID-19 pandemic uncertain.
It is understood that Barcelona will therefore remain as the pre-season host, with the Tuesday-Thursday test taking place just over two weeks before the scheduled start of the season in Australia.
The reduced testing amount has been labelled insufficient by several drivers, especially those who are switching teams in 2021.
Carlos Sainz Jr (Ferrari), Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren) and Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) will all have only 1.5 days with their new teams, assuming testing is shared equally across the race drivers.
That limited mileage is why Renault has pushed to get the returning Fernando Alonso dispensation to take part in the post-season Abu Dhabi ‘young driver’ test in its 2020 car, to further help his acclimatisation to the team and familiarity with an F1 car again after two years away.
Ferrari had planned a 2018 car test for Sainz in January to aid his transition from McLaren but in light of the Alonso exception is now pushing for him to test in Abu Dhabi as well.
Racing Point, which will become the Aston Martin team in 2021, has suggested it wants to do the same with Vettel.
However, McLaren has accepted it will only have next March in Spain to run Ricciardo before his first race with the team.