Sebastian Vettel and new Ferrari teammates Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen will sit out Formula 1’s forthcoming Pirelli tire test in Bahrain.
Ferrari confirmed instead that F1 development driver Pedro de la Rosa will share driving duties over the three days with Ferrari Driver Academy member and Marussia race driver Jules Bianchi.
While three of this year’s championship top five will therefore not take part, Mercedes is expected to attend with both Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.
The test was officially sanctioned by the FIA on Monday following a request from Pirelli last month. Lotus, Sauber, Williams, Marussia and Caterham all said they would not attend.
McLaren and Force India were slated to join the three-day run, but have subsequently confirmed they too will not attend. Red Bull, Mercedes, Ferrari and Toro Rosso are therefore the only teams to have taken up Pirelli’s test offer.
While F1’s tire supplier will define the daily schedule and data management throughout the test, Ferrari said using de la Rosa would allow it to evaluate the effectiveness of the ongoing simulator work started by the Spaniard this year. It added that Bianchi’s day three drive stemmed from its focus on young driver development and was an opportunity for him to “demonstrate the progress he has made this year in F1.”
Red Bull has not yet announced who will drive its car in the test, but Vettel is not expected to attend. Toro Rosso is also yet to reveal its plans.