The Abu Dhabi venue expected to be a contender to host F1 pre-season testing in 2014 as Nico Rosberg goes fastest at Silverstone in practice for British Grand Prix.
Yas Marina Circuit in the hunt to host January F1 testing
SILVERSTONE, ENGLAND // The reality of Yas Marina Circuit hosting the Formula One fraternity early next year was all but confirmed yesterday after the World Motor Sport Council announced pre-season testing for 2014 will begin in January, one month earlier than in previous years.
In-season testing will also make a return with four two-day sessions being permitted from next year, but while mid-season tests must take place in Europe on the Tuesday and Wednesday after a race, the pre-season sessions appear perfectly planned to take place in the Middle East.
This year's pre-season was heavily criticised; the weather in Spain, in February and March, rendered teams incapable of thoroughly testing the full range of tyre compounds.
Paul Hembery, the motorsport director of the tyre supplier Pirelli, and Ross Brawn, Mercedes-GP's team principal, have spoken in recent weeks of the potential benefits of testing in the Middle East.
Yas Marina Circuit and Bahrain International Circuit have confirmed their interest in hosting the tests, with Abu Dhabi believed to be preferred over their Gulf neighbours.
Mercedes's Nico Rosberg, who has taken pole position three times this season and won in Monaco, finished fastest during the opening day of practice for tomorrow's British Grand Prix, lapping a shade quicker than the Red Bull Racing duo Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel. "On one lap the car is still quick, so qualifying should be OK," he said. "But the question mark is our race speed."
Consistency proved evident in the Ferrari stable, too, as Felipe Massa suffered his fourth crash in three race weekends when he spun off under slippery conditions.
"I am very disappointed about what happened as the accident cost me valuable time, especially in terms of getting an understanding of the tyre behaviour here," Massa said.
1pm final practice, 4pm qualifying, Abu Dhabi Sports 6