Formula 1 bosses have rejected a Ferrari request for Carlos Sainz, their signing for 2021, to take part in next week’s post-season test in Abu Dhabi.
This is despite governing body the FIA allowing two-time world champion Fernando Alonso to drive for Renault.
The test was originally intended to be for young drivers who had competed in no more than two grands prix.
The FIA’s decision to grant exemptions for some teams but not others has led to irritation in the pit lane.
Rivals, who were not prepared to comment publicly, are concerned that Renault have gone back on what was originally intended to be a cost-saving move when the decision to limit the test to young drivers was made at the height of the coronavirus lockdown in April.
And they are angry that the FIA appears to be operating a rule that does not apply consistently across all the teams.
A note issued to the teams by FIA race director Michael Masi on Tuesday, and seen by BBC Sport, said: “We would like to clarify that for drivers who have participated in more than two F1 races in their career, the FIA’s approval… will be subject to the condition that they have not competed in any Formula 1 races during the 2020 season.”
The rule governing the test says that it is “for the sole purpose of providing young drivers with the opportunity to test a current F1 car” and says drivers taking part should not have competed in more than two F1 races “unless otherwise approved by the FIA”.
Renault have been lobbying for 39-year-old Alonso, a winner of 32 grands prix, to take part since they signed him last summer, after he decided to return to the sport he left at the end of 2018.
In addition to granting an exemption for the Spaniard, the FIA has also allowed Red Bull and Alfa Romeo to use their experienced reserve drivers Sebastien Buemi and Robert Kubica.
This led to Ferrari wanting to run Sainz, who is joining them from McLaren for 2021, to give him experience in their car.
Ferrari had also made it clear they would be prepared to release Sebastian Vettel from his contract to allow him to drive for his new team Racing Point.
Ferrari declined to comment on the FIA’s decision.
But the Horse Whisperer Twitter account, which is widely regarded as being associated with the Italian team, posted a message saying: “Abu Dhabi, Young (?) Driver Test. Who can drive? Alonso (312 GPs) yes, you can; Buemi (55) yes, you can; Vettel (256) no, you can’t; Kubica (97) yes, you can; Sainz (117) no, you can’t. What is the logic?”
An FIA spokesperson said: “The FIA may grant dispensation for a driver to participate in the end-of-season test at the request of the competitor.
“Under the current circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic and the significant pressures of timing and logistics this has placed on F1 teams, the governing body has granted such dispensation to several competitors following their requests as permitted by the F1 sporting regulations.”