Kevin Magnussen and McLaren might have set the fastest aggregate time at this week's Jerez test, but if you go by the mileage, it is Mercedes which has the upper hand. After all, it is not about who is the fastest, but about whom goes the furthest.
Mercedes were widely tipped to produce the best power unit in 2014, against a backdrop of Formula 1’s technical shakedown which includes a move from 2.4L normally aspirated V8 engine to 1.6L turbocharged engine. And looking by the mileage of Mercedes powered cars, they’ve certainly lived up to the expectations. The four teams running Mercedes power units racked up a total of 855 laps around Circuito de Jerez - almost twice as the three Ferrari powered cars and a whopping six times the laps done by cars with Renault engines at their back.
Speaking specifically about the works outfit, Mercedes drivers did a total of 309 laps - again more than any other team present at the test. When teams were busy getting their car ready in the morning on opening day of Jerez test, Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton went straight out when clock hit the 9:00 am mark. They further completed a small private test(legal as it was done during the off-season) prior to Jerez.
While we shouldn't go by the lap times, for reference, Hamilton set the third fastest aggregate time of the session - 1m 23.952s - six tenths slower than the benchmark set by rookie Kevin Magnussen. Nico Rosberg, meanwhile, completed 188 laps around Jerez - including a race simulation on the final day - with the fastest lap time of 1m 25.588s - good enough to finish eighth in the timesheets.
While it is too early to jump to conclusions, it is fair to say that Mercedes have a certain advantage over the rest - at least in terms of reliability and mileage. As far as raw pace is concerned, Nico Rosberg is himself sceptic, saying he has “no idea where we are on pace.’’
In stark contrast, Red Bull’s outing at Jerez was nothing short of a nightmare with the Austrian team completing just 21 laps and packing up early to solve their teething problems in their factory in Milton Keynes. To make matters worse, Red Bull CEO Dietrich Mateschitz was present at the event to track the progress of his Formula 1 team.
On the very first day of F1’s first pre-season test, Sebastian Vettel only emerged out of the pits 20 minutes before the end of the session and completed just three laps with no time set on board. However, with other teams also suffering from multiple problems, it didn’t seem like a major issue.
That was until the sun set and rose again to kick start the second day of Jerez test. This time, Sebastian Vettel just managed eight laps and the Austrian team encountered a number of problems related to overheating of their Renault engine and how the engine, and other components of the power unit are packed in the RB10.
"It's been a very difficult test. We have had numerous Renault issues as well as chassis cooling issues, which have affected our progress. However, despite the lack of mileage, what we have managed to learn shows that the problems should be solvable for the next test in Bahrain. Part of the purpose of this early test was to learn about any issues ahead of the start of the season and there will now be a lot of focus on the dyno over the next few weeks." Christian Horner said.
“The underlying causes are not straightforward: there isn’t a single component or system that has caused particular trouble. A number of related things have been troublesome, principally concerning the control and operation of the various sub-systems of the Power Unit within the car.” Rob White explained.
“For example on the first run day, we had problems with a sub-system within the Energy Store that did not directly concern either the battery nor the operation of the battery – it is an electronic part that was in the same housing as the Energy Store.We subsequently had problems with turbocharger and boost control systems with knock-on effects on the associated engine management systems, subsequently provoking mechanical failures.”
“Between days 1 and 2 with the help of Red Bull, we implemented a later level of hardware for the rest of the test to address the problem within the Energy Store. This ran for the remaining days. In parallel to running in Jerez, the team at Viry has run dyno test programs to investigate the trackside problems and to propose solutions. We identified the probable root cause of our main turbo control issues, implemented some workarounds that were first seen at the end of day 3 and deployed in the three cars for day 4. This established a very minimalist baseline from which we could build.” He added.
With just eight days of testing left before the season opener in Australia on March 16th, Red Bull have a lot of work to do to catch up with the same rivals whom they trashed in the last four seasons.
Kimi Raikkonen first lap in a Ferrari since 2009 ended prematurely when he stopped on track due to a mechanical failure. But he soon got back in the F14 T and managed to set the fastest time of the day, and in the process, complete 31 laps - more than any other driver on the first day of the test. He stayed in the car on Wednesday, completing 47 further laps, before giving duties to teammate Fernando Alonso on Thursday. Over the next two days, Fernando Alonso racked up 173 laps, just shy of 188 set by Rosberg, to finish the session with seventh fastest aggregate lap time.
In all, Ferrari seems to be in a good shape with no major issues with their 2014 challenger. The team were second in terms of total lap completed, and with Raikkonen and Alonso onboard, Ferrari would be hoping to take their first constructors title since 2008 and first drivers’ championship since 2007.
“The technical parameters of the F14 T, as well as the aerodynamic validation we saw on track, match our expectations and provide a solid starting point, which we must now exploit as much as possiblem " Team principal Stefano Domenicali said. "In Jerez, we concentrated our efforts on fine tuning the new systems to ensure that all the components that make up the new power unit were working as well as possible and the team was focused on its tasks. I was also very pleased to see, even if was hardly a surprise, how our drivers worked in harmony and that they have already provided excellent feedback relating to the development of the car.”
McLaren endured a torrid season in 2013 - failing to score a podium for the first time since 1980. However, 2014 brought with itself some exciting news for the Woking based outfit as Ron Dennis returned to the helm of the McLaren Group. Dennis has promised a proper review of company’s F1 operations and a redesigned structure, with the first bits already visible with the appointment of Eric Boullier as race director and Doug McKiernan as head of aerodynamic operations.
McLaren completed 245 laps around Jerez, just shy of Ferrari who managed to run their F14 T 251 times around Circuito de Jerez, despite staying in the garage throughout the opening day to an electrical problem.
Kevin Magnussen headed the final cumulative timesheets with a fastest lap of 1m 23.276s from 162 laps done by him. However, he did a serious rookie mistake moments before the test came to a conclusion on Friday. The Danish driver,spun at turn 10, putting his MP4-29 in the barriers and bringing out a red flag.
"It felt good. "Pretty pleased with the reliability so far and pleased to get so many laps done in half a day. So pretty positive." Magnussen said
"As we all know it's winter testing and no one really knows what the other cars or teams were doing, so not looking into that too much." he said when asked about McLaren's relative pace as compared to its rivals.
Button completed 83 laps with no major problems.
Those who were expecting Force India to be the dark horse of the 2014 season would be fairly disappointed with their performance. Force India only managed to do more laps the three Renault powered cars and Marussia, who only took part during the final two days of Jerez test. However, by Friday and the final of the first of three pre-season tests, Force India had found a permanent solution to their problems, and Daniel Juncadella, team’s new reserve driver, racked up a total of 81 laps.
However, with their race drivers Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg only completing 48 and 17 laps respectively, questions will undoubtedly be raised on how the Silverstone team scheduled their drivers outings in this four-day test. They will have to give their main drivers a lot more time in Bahrain as adapting to F1’s new regulations is not an easy task, not even for the drivers.
Adrian Sutil, who moves to Sauber after spending his entire F1 career with Force India and its predecessor Spyker, completed just over 103 laps around Jerez but had two outing to the gravel trap. He cited cold tyres and the extra torque of F1’s new V6 engines as the cause of the first incident on day three.
"On the last one the tyres lost a lot of temperature, it caught me by surprise when I accelerated out of the corner, shifting up from third to fourth on a straight line, and suddenly the car snapped and I went off." Sutil briefed about his rather strange accident.
Esteban Gutierrez ran during the first two days of the test when most teams were busy doing system checks instead of long competitive runs. That’s why the Mexican managed only 60 laps and a spin on turn 5 of the 13 corner Jerez circuit.
Red Bull’s junior team Toro Rosso also suffered from the problems which were consistent with all the Renault powered cars. That meant the Faenza based team managed only 54 laps around Jerez. That puts them third in the list, albeit from back of the list. Daniil Kvyat didn’t complete a single lap on Wednesday due to a problem with the energy recovery system and on Friday, he managed just nine laps before his STR9 came to a halt.
However, the Russian pointed out the positive aspects of the test and is confident that Toro Rosso will be in a better shape by the time F1 fraternity moves to Bahrain for the second pre-season test.
“As a rookie with so much to learn, this week in Jerez has not been the start I would have wanted,” Kvyat said. “However, I trust my team and I trust Renault, so with some hard work, I am sure we can be in better shape and start to catch up at the next test. There have been a few positives, because we have acquired some useful data, even with limited running. Some questions have therefore already been answered and I was able to get a feel for the car in wet conditions.”
Williams ended the session on a positive note with Felipe Massa finishing the final test on top with 1m 23.700s. The team has switched to Mercedes engines and hired the services of Felipe Massa who comes into replace Pastor Maldonado, putting an end to the troubled relationship between the two parties.
Massa was pleased with the efforts of his new recruiters and believes the team made decent progress over the course of four days in terms of reliability.
“Today we didn’t have any issues with the car which I think is also another step forward,” Massa said after the final day of Jerez test. “We now need to concentrate and prepare with an aim to do more laps per day in Bahrain. Overall, I’m happy with my first days with Williams and I’m pleased with what I have seen in the team this week.”
Valtteri Bottas completed 42 laps, but his running on the second day was limited by an issue with the rear suspension.
Marussia’s 2014 car made it out of the factory and into F1’s traditional home of testing on Thursday and completed more laps than four times double title winner Red Bull. Max Chilton completed five laps on Thursday and Jules Bianchi added 25 more on Friday to take team's tally to a total of 30 laps.
Marussia sporting director said he was ‘’reasonably happy’’ with MR03’s first outing.
"You never know when you go into testing just what you're going to come up against but I think we can be reasonably happy. We viewed it that this is our second day of testing rather than the fourth day and we've learned a lot. That's what testing's all about so we've got enough good data now to put a programme together ahead of Bahrain. So all in all we can be really quite happy with the progress so far." he said.
Caterham revealed their car midday through the first day of Jerez test and over the course of four days, did more laps than any of the Renault powered teams.
Caterham sports a new lineup in form of returnee Kamui Kobayashi and GP2 driver Marcus Ericsson and the team have been given clear instructions by boss Tony Fernandes that if the results don't come this season, he will pull out of the sport.
As far as the performance and mileage is concerned, Kobayashi in his first official F1 session since 2012, completed 54 laps on day four with a best time of 1m 43.193s. Most of these laps were done in the damp conditions during first part of the day.
1. Kevin Magnussen, McLaren, 1m 23.276s, 162 laps
2. Felipe Massa, Williams, 1m 23.700s, 133 laps
3. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1m 23.952s, 121 laps
4. Jenson Button, McLaren, 1m 24.165s, 83 laps
5. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1m 24.812s, 78 laps
6. Valtteri Bottas, Williams, 1m 25.344s, 42 laps
7. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 1m 25.495s, 173 laps
8. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 1m 25.588s, 188 laps
9. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, 1m 26.096s, 17 laps
10. Sergio Perez, Force India, 1m 28.376s, 48 laps
11. Daniel Juncadella, Force India, 1m 29.457s, 81 laps
12. Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso, 1m 29.915s, 45 laps
13. Adrian Sutil, Sauber, 1m 30.161s, 103 laps
14. Jules Bianchi, Marussia, 1m 32.222s, 25 laps
15. Esteban Gutierrez, Sauber, 1m 33.270s, 60 laps
16. Marcus Ericsson, Caterham, 1m 37.975s, 12 laps
17. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 1m 38.320s, 11 laps
18. Kamui Kobayashi, Caterham, 1m 43.193s, 54 laps
19. Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso, 1m 44.016s, 9 laps
20. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, 1m 45.374s, 10 laps
21. Robin Frijns, Caterham, No time, 10 laps
22. Max Chilton, Marussia, No time, 5 laps
Total laps - By team
1. Mercedes, 309
2. Ferrari, 251
3. McLaren (Mercedes), 245
4. Williams (Mercedes), 175
5. Sauber (Ferrari), 163
6. Force India (Mercedes), 146
7. Caterham (Renault), 76
8. Toro Rosso (Renault), 54
9. Marussia (Ferrari), 30
10. Red Bull (Renault), 21
Total laps - by power unit manufacturer
1. Mercedes, 875 (4 teams)
2. Ferrari, 444 (3 teams)
3. Renault, 151 (3 teams)
Total laps - By drivers
1. Rosberg 188
2. Alonso 173
3. Magnussen 161
4. Massa 133
5. Sutil 103
6. Button 83
7. Juncadella 81
8. Hamilton 80
9. Raikkonen 78
10. Gutierrez 60
11. Kobayashi 54
12. Perez 48
13. Vergne 45
14. Bottas 42
15. Bianchi 25
16. Hulkenburg 17
17. Ericsson 12
18. Vettel 11
19. Ricciardo 10
20. Frijns 10
21. Kyvat 9
22. Chilton 5
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