Dubai: Dubai Autodrome has welcomed the possibility of hosting Formula One testing sessions as the sport expands its pre-season practice schedule from next year.
F1 teams have agreed to begin testing from late January in 2014 as they prepare for the arrival of new engines, with turbo-charged 1.6-litre V6s replacing the current 2.4-litre V8s. At least one of the three four-day pre-season tests will take place in the Middle East to guarantee warm weather and ahead of Bahrain opening the campaign, with official confirmation pending.
In April this year, FIA F1 Race Director Charlie Whiting inspected Dubai Autodrome and gave the venue a clean bill of health, renewing its FIA Grade 1 Circuit Licence, making it eligible to host a fully-fledged F1 test.
And the venue’s general manager Richard Birch said: “Of course we would welcome the opportunity to host F1 testing at our venue. We have the facilities and Dubai has all the infrastructure required for a week of testing.
“At this stage it is merely talk and speculation as the final decision is not in our hands or even been made as far as we know. But if asked in an official capacity, then we will certainly embrace the project.”
The Motor City circuit has previously hosted rounds of the GP2 Asia Series, which is the main feeder category for F1. It has also hosted rounds of the FIA GT Championship and the current flagship event is the Dunlop 24 Hours of Dubai.
A number of drivers currently on the F1 grid have raced at Dubai Autodrome, including Romain Grosjean, Jean-Eric Vergne, Pastor Maldonado, Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg.
Other big names to have raced there include Johnny Herbert, Jean Alesi, Jacques Villeneuve and Kamui Kobayashi, who holds the outright lap record at the venue. Kobayashi set the fastest mark of 1min 41.220sec on the Grand Prix configuration of the circuit in the 2008 GP2 Asia race.