At first, Force India’s car was largely complimented especially over the new, more aggressive livery and the nose. When the VJM07 showed up in Jerez, many fans were disappointed with how the nose actually looked. It was one of the simpler anteater concepts.
The first day in Jerez didn’t give the team too much, with only 11 laps completed by Sergio Perez. Checo added 37 laps to that on day 2, giving the team some data to analyse. Nico Hulkenberg then took the wheel of the car for day 3, completing just 17 laps. For the last day, Force India decided to hand the car over to Daniel Juncadella, their test driver, who completed 81 laps and set the third fastest time for the day. The team ran without major problems, however they haven’t managed to complete many laps in Jerez.
Bahrain started well for Force India. Nico Hulkenberg topped the time sheets with a 1:36.880 and completed 78 laps. Day 2 was another positive one, still without any issues, the VJM07 completed 59 laps and clocked 2nd on the timesheets, again with Hulkenberg behind the wheel. Day 3 added a tally of further 57 laps to the mileage and this time, Sergio managed 5th on the sheets. Just 19 laps were completed on day 4, which wasn’t the most positive finish to the second test.
The second test in Bahrain saw another positive start for the Indian team. Sergio Perez set the fastest lap time with a total of 105 laps, the most in a single day for the VJM07 so far. The Mexican then repeated his result on day 2, extending the mileage by 108 laps. During the last two days, Nico Hulkenberg completed 115 laps on day 3, and 74 on day 4, focusing on aero work and race simulation.
Overall, Sahara Force India could shine this year, with very good reliability and good pace. Hulkenberg and Perez will surely be looking for a few podiums this year.
Sauber had a successful first day of testing without any issues, however Esteban Gutierrez completed just 7 laps in the C33. The second day returned a much better result, with Gutierrez completing 53 laps. Sutil took over the Sauber for the first time on day 3. He completed 34 laps, but crashed out after the tyres lost temperature and caused him to spin off. Day 4 was another positive day with 69 laps completed.
In Bahrain, Day 1 went well, with 82 laps completed. In Day 2, However an electrical issue limited the Hinwill based team to 55 laps. Day 3 then ran smoothly but Day 4 revealed another issue, as Sauber had to change chassis because of a problem with an internal part of the monocoque.
The second Bahrain test went very well, with many laps completed, until day 3 when the number of laps dropped to 1. This was due to an engine problem and a decision was made to change it as a precautionary measure. Day 4 made up for lost time in the previous day as the C33 completed 177 laps altogether, and both drivers performed their duties over the course of the day.
Sauber could be a strong competitor within the Ferrari powered teams. Their reliability seems fairly good and if they can keep that up, they will be looking at some high points scoring positions.
Toro Rosso is another team highly criticised for their nose design. They successfully ran their car, with Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne completing 15 laps on the first day of the first pre season testing, before software issues stopped the STR9 on the track. Day 2 showed electrical issues for the team, meaning rookie Danil Kvyat was unable to perform any laps. Vergne was back in the car for Day 3 and completed 30 laps, while Kvyat managed just 8 laps on day 4, limited by system issues.
The first test in Bahrain was a lot more positive for the team, as many more laps were completed, and they were and are still looking as a strong competitor under the Renault brand. The last day was full of trouble however, with several problems limiting track time to 19 laps. In the second test at Bahrain International Circuit, Toro Rosso faced a technical issue which limited running in the afternoon of Day 1. The following three days were very positive for the team, allowing them to add solid mileage to their car.
In Melbourne, Scuderia Toro Rosso will need to make sure they have no reliability problems and that will be their target. They are suffering a lot, however improvement can be seen and surely in Melbourne they will have some updates on the car, and their rivals shouldn’t take them lightly.
Williams’ Martini livery was the highlight of the last week, and was welcomed by fans. It is considered as one of the most iconic liveries in Formula 1. After an unsuccessful season in 2013, Williams seem to have improved a lot. The engine supplier change was a good step forward for the British team. Williams kicked off 2014 campaign with only a handful of laps completed as they had some issues with a sensor in the engine. The second day was halted by a rear suspension failure, so Valtteri Bottas programme was very limited in Jerez. Felipe Massa was in a new car for the first time on Day 3. He managed to complete 47 laps without major issues, and also setting the second fastest time. The final day was even better with 86 laps completed.
On Day 1 at Bahrain, a small issue appeared with the fuel pump of the FW36 which limited Felipe’s running on that day. With the previous day’s issues resolved, Williams managed a solid running of 116 laps. Day 3 saw both drivers behind the wheel with some pitstop practice taking place. 115 laps were added to the mileage. Day 4 was given to Williams’ reserve driver Felipe Nasr, who completed 87 laps.
The team’s objectives were focused at race simulation and the Pirelli tyres on Day 1 of Test 3. Valtteri Bottas completed an impressive 128 laps during the day. Felipe Massa had a similar programme on day 2, completing 103 laps. Day 3 and 4 ran smoothly with more and more mileage put onto the car until the engine failed on day 4.
Williams Chief Test and Support Engineer, Rob Nelson explained: “With the number of laps we have put on it, it wasn’t a big surprise but it was still a shame that Valtteri couldn't get that final chance to push.”
Overall Williams seem to have really made progress since last year and could be fighting for wins this year. Their pace is very good, setting the second fastest lap time overall in Jerez, and the fastest overall in Bahrain. Reliability is also very good, with only a few minor issues throughout testing.
Marussia missed out on the first two days of testing, with the car not being ready and the official launch also being delayed. Max Chilton completed 5 laps on Day 3 and handed the car over to Jules Bianchi for day 4, when the Frenchman completed 25 laps.
After a successful start with no issues, Bahrain didn’t get a great start as Day 1 was limited to just 3 installation laps due to an IT configuration problem. A fuel system issue also limited Day 2 running, however the following day was more positive with 17 laps completed. After completing 4 laps on day 3, Max Chilton had to stop on track after an engine failure and day 4 was delayed by new parts being installed. These were to eliminate the reliability issues.
The second test in Bahrain had a better start. 44 laps were completed on the first day without any problems. A further 75 laps were added to the mileage by Bianchi on day 2. This record was then improved to 78 laps the following day. The team concluded pre-season testing with a further 61 laps completed.
Marussia could even be a points competitor with some luck. A few issues with reliability at the start but they were quickly resolved by revised parts being fitted to the MR03.
Caterham decided to keep using Renault engines, which could ultimately be the cause of their fall. Rookie Marcus Ericsson was given the chance to drive the CT05 on day 1 at Jerez. He completed just 1 lap, as running was delayed by problems with the final assembly of the car. Marcus was back in the car on day 2, completing 11 laps. Robin Frijns was in the car for day 3, completing just 10 laps. Caterham’s new driver Kamui Kobayashi was behind the wheel for the final day in Spain. He completed 54 laps, however his running was halted by a problem with the Renault power unit.
In Bahrain, Frijns was in the car for day 1, completing 68 laps without major problems. The rest of the test went fairly smoothly for the team, with more mileage on the car. There was just an electrical issue appearing on day 4 which was quickly fixed. The second test wasn’t quite as planned. Caterham faced an electrical issue on day 1 and a fire broke out on the car during day 2. Days 3 and 4 showed an improvement with many laps completed although the team faced a clutch problem on day 4.
Caterham has seen a roller coaster pattern in their reliability in testing and they will need to work hard to be able to compete and finish races regularly.
The Final Cut
Just a few hours remain until those cars line up on the grid. We will all instantly teleport closer to the TV and get the goose bumps indicating the first red light is on. Our heart beats will slow down as we wait impatiently for the lights to go out, and F1 2014 will be off!
With the amount of reliability issues the teams face, we could see an interesting race in Melbourne with many cars dropping out and a possibly some safety car periods. Rain forecasted for the race can only spice up the action!
At the end of the day, reliability is the key! Surviving to the chequered flag could fetch the teams some large haul of reward.
Written By: Jakub Kot