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F1 teams stay on in Bahrain for first in-season test of 2017

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While Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix may have marked the completion of Formula 1’s first back-to-back of the year, all 10 teams are not on their way back to base just yet as they gear up for the opening in-season test of 2017.

In-season testing has been brought forward in 2017, with the traditional first two-day test being shifted from Barcelona to Bahrain.

Teams will enjoy track time on Tuesday and Wednesday at the Bahrain International Circuit, working to dial their cars in and evaluate any updates for introduction at the Russian Grand Prix on April 30.

All teams are required to allocate at least two days of their in-season running to young drivers (classified as those with no more than two F1 races to their name), with a further two days planned following the Hungarian Grand Prix at the start of August.

Ferrari is set to allocate one of its days in Bahrain to Pirelli tire running, helping to develop its 2018 compounds as part of a season-long program.

Here is who each team will be running in Bahrain over the next two days.

Mercedes
Tuesday: Lewis Hamilton
Wednesday: Valtteri Bottas

Ferrari
Tuesday: Antonio Giovinazzi
Wednesday: Sebastian Vettel

Red Bull
Tuesday: Daniel Ricciardo
Wednesday: Pierre Gasly

Force India
Tuesday: Alfonso Celis Jr.
Wednesday: Esteban Ocon (AM), Sergio Perez (PM)

Williams
Tuesday: Lance Stroll (AM), Felipe Massa (PM)
Wednesday: Gary Paffett

McLaren
Tuesday: Oliver Turvey
Wednesday: Stoffel Vandoorne

Toro Rosso
TBC

Haas
TBC

Renault
TBC

Sauber
Tuesday: Marcus Ericsson
Wednesday: Pascal Wehrlein

Fernando Alonso will decide this summer whether to pursue F1 again

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Fernando Alonso said he will determine by this summer if he would consider a return to Formula One next season.

After announcing Tuesday that he will return to Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May with Arrow McLaren Racing SP, Alonso said “right now the Indy 500 will take all of my concentration” but left the door open for F1 in 2021.

“In my case, probably during the summer period, I’ll make a decision on 2021 if Formula One is still appealing to me,” Alonso told IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey in an interview (watch the video above). “The 2021 rules (in F1) are definitely a step forward, and hopefully things can be more mixed and not only three teams capable of winning races. So all this factors into play. I may consider that possibility.”

Alonso won consecutive Formula One championships in 2005-06 with Renault. He has 32 victories in an F1 career that started in 2001 and also includes stints at Ferrari and McLaren.

His last victory on the circuit was May 12, 2013 in Barcelona. He is winless in his most recent 110 starts, including the past 77 races with McLaren in 2015-18.

The Guardian recently reported that McLaren CEO Zak Brown said Alonso wouldn’t be returning to F1 with the team.

Alonso also told Diffey that returning to F1 from a two-season absence wouldn’t necessarily be linked to McLaren’s performance.

“I think they did well last year, and hopefully they make another step forward and close to the top three because they deserve it and are a fantastic team,” he said.

Though he is optimistic about more parity, Alonso said six-time champion Lewis Hamilton should be a favorite for the 2020 title based on preseason testing in which Mercedes turned heads with a new steering system.

“It seemed Mercedes is still quite competitive,” Alonso said. “They show enormous potential on the development side and on the progress from one year to next. Formula One is impossible to predict because many things happen in season.

“At the starting point, (Mercedes) are the favorites. When you have Lewis in the car and Mercedes with the potential they have, they have to be No. 1 probably.”