Formula 1 teams are pushing for an early test of the 2014 V6 turbo engines, amid fears just three pre-season tests next year may not be enough.
Under F1's current test restrictions, the new engines will not be able to run in cars until next February – which means there would be just a few weeks to sort out any reliability gremlins before the first race of the season.
"There is some useful discussion going on about the challenge we all face with the 2014 engines," Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn said. "You can imagine from an engine supplier's point of view, starting in February with a new engine with a race in March, in our case supplying three teams, is a pretty big challenge. We are looking at ways we can ease that, but it is too early to say what solutions we can find.
"I think everyone is sympathetic to the need to see if there is a better solution, perhaps for the beginning of 2014 only. I don't anticipate any testing of engines this year but perhaps the 2014 test program can be anticipated by some degree to help the engine suppliers cope with a pretty massive challenge."
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said his squad would be open to an early test. He reckons it would make financial sense to head off any issues promptly.
"I think in many respects it would make sense, but then again it is not something [Red Bull supplier] Renault is crying out for," Horner said. "There are obviously associated costs with that [test] but ultimately it is probably a good investment in terms of knowing the engines are reliable by the time you get to the first race."
Lotus technical director James Allison (LEFT) is confident, however, that if no extra test is arranged then there will be enough time to get cars and power units reliable for the first race.
"From the reliability point of view, can you be ready in three tests? Yes," he said. "Dynos are quite good at telling you whether the engine is reliable, and they are quite good at making gearboxes reliable – and that is the majority of the drivetrain. The only open point would be whether you are going to produce a car that has enough cooling. That is a fair challenge in 2014.
"But wind tunnels are not bad, either, so most of the things that would be necessary to put the car on the ground and make it work are there, and the testing would be about getting performance."