Ferrari and Red Bull Racing have been forced to abandon plans to run a revised testing program at Barcelona this week following the intervention of the FIA.
Both teams had hoped to run from Friday to Monday at Barcelona, instead of the Thursday to Sunday schedule that other outfits present at the test had originally agreed to. However, Ferrari revealed on Tuesday morning that an FIA clarification of article 22.4 of Formula 1's sporting regulations, which governs testing on Monday night had meant it was no longer possible to stick to its change of plans.
The intervention from the FIA came after a request for clarification about the wording of article 22.4C of the rules. This clause states that apart from some straightline testing and a Young Driver test, no testing may take place: "between the start of the week preceding the first event of the championship and Dec. 31 of the same year."
The issue at stake was the definition of when the "week preceding the first event of the championship" was. While Ferrari and Red Bull Racing believed they could test next week, because they believed the week preceding the Australian Grand Prix begins on Monday, March 12, the clarification from the FIA stated a different viewpoint. It is understood the FIA believes the rule refers to the full week before the week of the event, so the blackout period begins on Monday, March 5.
Despite shifting its days, Ferrari will maintain its original driver rotation plan, with Felipe Massa testing for the first and third days (Thursday/Saturday), and Fernando Alonso driving on the second and final days (Friday/Sunday).
Red Bull Racing will also alternate its drivers for the final test, with Mark Webber driving on Thursday and Saturday, and Sebastian Vettel slotted in for Friday and Sunday.
The confirmation that teams may not test after this Sunday, means that Lotus will not be able to slot in any extra testing to make up for its withdrawal from the Barcelona test because of front suspension problems. Furthermore, Marussia will also not be able to do anything other than a straightline test or filming day for its new car if it passes the final crash test that is scheduled for later this week.