Formula 1 chiefs look set to give a final green light to a post-season tyre test in Abu Dhabi in order to allow Pirelli a chance to evaluate more aggressive rubber.
The Italian tyre company has been seeking more opportunities for out-of-event running, but this has so far met resistance from teams who have failed to agree on a plan that keeps everyone happy.
But on the back of a fresh push for better co-operation after the Belgian GP blowouts, the F1 Commission is set to vote later this month on a plan to allow a post-season test in Abu Dhabi, a pre-season wet tyre test and other running throughout 2016.
Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery said he was encouraged that F1's Strategy Group had indicated support for the idea, even if not all teams are likely to stay on after the season finale.
“We have been advised that there should be a couple of days in Abu Dhabi after the season to look at the super-soft,” explained Hembery. “There will also be two days at Paul Ricard in January for wet testing.
“That is the current situation. It is only at Strategy Group level – that needs to be ratified quickly for it to happen.”
2017 test thoughts
While giving a green light to some winter running should be straightforward, sorting out a plan for 2017 preparation next season will be more complicated.
For as well as the issues of slotting tests in, Pirelli is also well aware that no team will have a 2017 car ready for proper testing next year.
“It is a really complex area with the wider tyres,” said Hembery. “If they go for a wider track, it means a completely different car.
“But if they don't go for a wider track, with just modifications to the current car, then that will allow a current car to be used [for testing].
“No one will have a 2017 car in March next year, so there is a very practical decision to be made. But the important thing is recognition that we need to go testing, which is something that came out of the Strategy Group.”