Pedro de la Rosa & Jules Bianchi to share driving duties for Ferrari in Bahrain tyre test
Scuderia to be at Sakhir, but race drivers won't test
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 11/12/13 5:58pm
Although six teams were named by the FIA earlier this week as having agreed to run in the emergency test in the Middle East for three days in order to help Pirelli out with their 2014 preparations, Sky Sports Online revealed on Tuesday that two of the outfits on the list, McLaren and Force India, had subsequently decided not to travel.
Ferrari, however, are going ahead with the test at Sakhir although will not run either Fernando Alonso or the incoming Kimi Raikkonen, with the team instead deciding that development driver de la Rosa, who will drive on the opening two days, and long-time protege Bianchi, who races for Marussia but is a member of Ferrari's Driver Academy, will share driving duties in the 2013 car.
Although the test has nominally been organised by Pirelli to get some hot-weather running with their development rubber for next season, Ferrari say de la Rosa's time in the car will also be "important in terms of defining the continuation of the simulator development work began by the Spaniard in 2013".
Bianchi last drove a Ferrari in the 2012 Young Driver Test at Magny-Cours and although the Maranello hierarchy opted to re-sign Raikkonen as replacement for Felipe Massa for next season as opposed to promoting the highly-rated French youngster, the team have made clear that his running in Bahrain "will be an opportunity to demonstrate the progress he has made this year in Formula 1".
The three other teams listed as having accepted the invitation to test, Red Bull, Mercedes and Toro Rosso, are all yet to confirm their plans for next week. A Mercedes spokesman said nothing had changed on their side since the FIA's Monday announcement, but that their driver line-up was not yet confirmed.
Con muchas ganas de entrenar en Bahrein la semana que viene. No me lo esperaba! / Looking forward for next weeks Bahrein test. A bonus!- Pedro de la Rosa (@PedrodelaRosa1) December 11, 2013