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F1 teams schedule 2014 tests in Middle East

By Alan Baldwin

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Formula One teams will hold two pre-season tests in the Middle East next year as they seek out ideal weather conditions ahead of what promises to be one of their biggest challenges in years.

Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain are under consideration with Dubai - the only circuit of the three that does not host a grand prix - seen as the current favourite.

"Middle East tests will get the weather we need to give the engines a good work-out," Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn told Reuters at Sunday's Hungarian Grand Prix, won by his driver Lewis Hamilton.

"So the first test will be European and second and third will be based in the Middle East.

"We must do both tests at the same circuit so we don't have any logistical issues," he added.

Bahrain is keen to host the opening round of the championship next year instead of Australia, although the calendar has yet to be settled.

However, continuing anti-government demonstrations in the country, which was rocked by protests in 2011 that triggered a bloody crackdown, would make testing in the Emirates a less controversial option.

Dubai's Emirates airline is a global partner of Formula One after signing a five-year deal in February and the Dubai Autodrome is FIA-approved and has hosted junior series and sportscar races.

Abu Dhabi's Yas Marina facility has been used in the past for young driver tests.

The first test of 2014 is likely to be in Spain, the traditional pre-season venue, at the southern Jerez circuit.

Formula One's regulations are changing next year in one of the biggest upheavals in decades. The sport has a new V6 turbocharged engine with energy recovery systems replacing the current V8.

As a result, teams have been allowed to test earlier than before, in January instead of having to wait until February, and outside of Europe.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Patrick Johnston)

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