BMW Sauber have abandoned plans to run a third driver in Friday practice at Grands Prix for the time being, meaning third driver Sebastian Vettel will be forced to watch from the sidelines.
Vettel had come into the season expected to take part in at least one of the Friday sessions at each race.
But with race drivers Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica unhappy at missing out on vital track time, and BMW Sauber being the only front-running team to run an extra driver, the German car manufacturer began questioning whether they were taking the right approach to the weekend.
Autosport.com first revealed in March that a decision about the third driver would be taken before the start of the European season and, after much deliberation, the team confirmed on Thursday that Vettel will be stood down for the immediate future.
BMW motorsport director Mario Theissen said: "As announced, following the overseas races we have been looking closely at the driver line-up for the Friday of the GP weekends.
"Until further notice, the two race drivers will be on track for the whole of Friday."
The decision comes after a strong start to the season for the team, with Theissen hoping that they can seal their position as the third best outfit in F1 when the action resumes in Spain next weekend.
"Our performances in the first three rounds of the world championship have given us a very good start to the season and we have used the time since the Bahrain Grand Prix to fit in some intensive development work," he said.
"Our rivals will certainly have been doing much the same, though, and the burning question is whether the balance of power has shifted as a result. Our aim is very clear - to maintain our position as the third-best team on the grid."
Technical director Willi Rampf is optimistic about the team's chances of achieving that target following this week's test in Barcelona.
"In testing we tried out various new aerodynamics and chassis components, as well as modifications to the car's electronics - and these have yielded very promising results. I'm, therefore, approaching the race in confident mood."
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