Formula 1 teams are planning to hold an extra pre-season test if the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix is cancelled.
With unrest in the country casting serious doubts over both the race and the four-day test, which is scheduled to start on March 3, the Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) sporting group met last night to discuss alternative scenarios.
AUTOSPORT understands teams considered several options during the meeting. These included the cancellation of the test and/or the race and the feasibility of replacement track time.
Pre-season testing is limited to 15 days and teams are keen to replace the Bahrain test, if it is called off, with Barcelona and Jerez believed to be the most likely hosts. Abu Dhabi, Silverstone and Paul Ricard were also considered, though were not favoured because of various concerns over logistics and weather.
If the grand prix is cancelled, a replacement race is very unlikely - but teams are investigating adding another pre-season test in its place.
As most already have detailed running and development plans, losing the Bahrain race would knock their schedules out and an extra test would ensure they have the track time required to develop their cars.
However, there are concerns among the smaller teams about the costs a fifth test would incur.
There is also a chance the test could be cancelled but the race itself still go ahead, should the situation in Bahrain calm. However, this scenario is regarded as the least likely.
Pressure is on the teams to make a final decision on the Bahrain test as soon as possible, although it is unlikely that a definitive resolution will be put in place until Bernie Ecclestone and the FIA have reached their conclusion on whether the race should go ahead.
The British Foreign Office has now officially advised against all non-essential travel to Bahrain.