The 2014 Formula One season moved a step closer as the teams got together in Jerez, Spain for the first of the year's pre-season tests.
The drivers and teams have four days to get to know their new cars, and there's plenty to learn.
The rules of F1 have been altered substantially for this campaign.
From a design perspective, the change to V6 turbo-charged engines from last year's V8s is probably the most significant. For the less technically minded, the nose height laws are possibly providing the biggest talking point, with the teams designing some interestingly shaped fronts to their cars to fit in with the restrictions.
A full breakdown of the changes for this season can be seen on Inquirer.net.
How teams and drivers respond to the challenges will take time to emerge, but our first glimpse comes in Spain.
Here are session-by-session breakdowns from the event, including updates and tweets from the track.
The final day of testing in Jerez was the busiest so far, with Felipe Massa of Williams topping the timesheets as the major teams enjoyed long stints.
But it was yet another day to forget for Red Bull, with Daniel Ricciardo scarcely on track.
The Red Bull were just one of the Renault teams to struggle through the day—Toro Rosso also floundered—and while Caterham were hardly quick they did manage considerably more laps and a quicker top time than the 2013 champions.
The test will leave all teams with plenty to think about before the next one, set for Bahrain next month—although most teams will have considerably more data to draw on than Red Bull during that time.
CH - What we have managed to learn shows that the problems should be solvable for the next test in Bahrain.— Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) January 31, 2014
CH - There will now be a lot of focus on the dyno over the next few weeks. pic.twitter.com/8A0BAoVoso— Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) January 31, 2014
Mercedes were particularly active—Nico Rosberg managed 91 laps by lunch and then had time to let Lewis Hamilton run in the afternoon.
But Kevin Magnussen managed more than 100 tours in his McLaren—despite being responsible for two red-flag moments. Fernando Alonso in the Ferrari managed 115 laps, and steered clear of trouble in the process.
It was a wet morning in Spain, the times reflecting that, but conditions did improve through the day.
Red Bull were out of the running early, though, ending their test in the morning after they were struck by a "mechanical issue".
With Jules Bianchi getting through 25 laps in the Marussia late in the afternoon it means no team managed less track time than the Red Bull.
Here's what the teams managed in the day, as recorded by Autosport:
1 Massa (Williams) 1m28.229s, 86 laps
2 Alonso (Ferrari) 1m29.145s, 115 laps
3 Juncadella (Force India) 1m29.457s, 81 laps
4 Magnussen (McLaren) 1m30.806s, 110 laps
5 Hamilton (Mercedes) 1m30.822s, 41 laps
6 Bianchi (Marussia) 1m32.222s, 25 laps
7 Sutil (Sauber) 1m36.571s, 69 laps
8 Rosberg (Mercedes) 1m36.951s 91 laps
9 Kobayashi (Caterham) 1m43.193s, 54 laps
10 Kvyat (Toro Rosso) 1m44.016s, 9 laps
11 Ricciardo (Red Bull) 1m45.374s, 7 laps
Daniel Ricciardo encountered errors with Red Bull's car.
Red Bull's problems continued on day three of pre-season testing in Jerez, as their RB10 car broke down on it's first lap.
The team's new driver Daniel Ricciardo managed just two more laps before they decided to end the day early.
Red Bull admitted their frustration via their official Twitter account:
All eyes on track, slow progress this morning as we try to put together all the pieces in Jerez. pic.twitter.com/y0nPQpKjOj— Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) January 30, 2014
The day also started later than planned, with Andrew Benson of BBC Sport reporting that problems with the car's hybrid energy recovery system were being addressed.
Ricciardo confirmed that Red Bull are assessing the issues back at their base in Milton Keynes:
Adrian [engineer Newey] has gone back to the drawing board. There is only so much they can do here at the track.
Adrian is pretty happy working in his office back at Milton Keynes and he'll definitely be getting involved in trying to sort out the next step.
They assume it is something that will have to be sorted out at the factory but at the same time they are trying to get a quicker fix for tomorrow. They've worked nearly 36 hours on the car to get it running.
Time is still on our side. Even if we go to Melbourne [first grand prix 16 March] still a bit whatever, it's a long season. These guys know how to win and I'm sure sooner rather than later we are going to get it together. It's still early days.
This latest setback comes after Sebastian Vettel managed just 11 laps during a frustrating two opening days of training, with Sky Sports reporting that Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz was present to witness the worrying scenes.
Toro Rosso, Red Bull's junior team, and Caterham, who are both also powered by Renault also continued to struggle with their car.
There was better news for McLaren, with Kevin Magnussen setting the fastest time of the day.
And he tweeted his thanks for the support he has been shown so far:
A encouraging afternoon. I'll now debrief with the @McLarenF1 engineers. Thx for all your support all day - really cool!— Kevin Magnussen (@KevinMagnussen) January 30, 2014
Alonso, who was greeted by a huge crowd of locals in southern Spain, suffered a mid-morning setback when his Ferrari broke down but it wasn't significant enough to stop him resuming later in the day.
Lewis Hamilton, who finished the day in third, tweeted how happy he was feeling with his progress:
Feeling very positive after these tests and every day on track is another step forwards!— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) January 30, 2014
Meanwhile, Marussia, who were unable to unveil their car due to technical problems on the first two days of testing, finally got going. British driver Max Chilton managed five laps in the MRO3.
The final day of testing in Jerez will take place on Friday but many teams, not least Red Bull, will be hoping for a better outing when the teams reconvene for two sets of four-day testing in Bahrain during February.
Here are the times, as recorded by Sky Sports:
1. Kevin Magnussen, McLaren, 1:23.276, 52 laps
2. Felipe Massa, Williams, 1:23.700, 47 laps
3. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:23.952, 62 laps
4. Jenson Button, McLaren, 1:25.030, 40 laps
5. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 1:25.495, 58 laps
6. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, 1:26.096, 17 laps
7. Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso, 1:29.915, 30 laps
8. Adrian Sutil, Sauber, 1:30.161, 34 laps
9. Robin Frijns, Caterham, No time, 10 laps
10. Max Chilton, Marussia, No time, 5 laps
11. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, No time, 3 laps
Jenson Button headed the way with the quickest lap times on day two of the Jerez pre-season test, going fastest both in a rain-affected morning and again later in the afternoon as the weather improved.
It capped a much-improved day for McLaren, who didn't manage to run at all on the opening day, but the story was perhaps at the back of the field, where champion Sebastian Vettel propped up the lap times in the Red Bull.
Pace was not critical, and Vettel's best time was set in the rain, but nonetheless the German has now completed just eight timed laps in two days as Red Bull struggle to get to grips with their car.
An Autosport report (via Eurosport) suggested that the problem for the champions was a Renault energy store issue. The team abandoned their day's work early in order to resolve it by day three, when Daniel Ricciardo takes the wheel.
It was a frustrating start, something Vettel himself admitted in quotes carried by his team on Twitter:
Seb - "...but with such big rule changes it's usual to have teething problems. That's what tests are for, to sort those issues out." #RB10— Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) January 29, 2014
Behind Button was Kimi Raikkonen in the Ferrari, while Valtteri Bottas' Williams was third, quick despite completing just four laps.
Nico Rosberg was by far the busiest driver, reeling off 97 tours of the Jerez circuit and giving his Mercedes garage plenty of valuable data. After Lewis Hamilton showed early promise before a crash put paid to his day yesterday, Mercedes have had no shortage of running and the mood is positive.
It was again a bitty day, however, with plenty of red flags and much to ponder for the engineering teams, particularly those using Renault engines.
Here are the times as collected by the BBC:
1. Jenson Button (McLaren) 1:24.165, 43 laps
2. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) 1:24.812, 47 laps
3. Valtteri Bottas (Williams) 1:25.344, four laps
4. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) 1:25.588, 97 laps
5. Sergio Perez (Force India) 1:28.376 , 37 laps
6. Esteban Gutierrez (Sauber) 1:33.270, 53 laps
7. Marcus Ericsson (Caterham) 1:37.975, 11 laps
8. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) 1:38.320, 8 laps
The 2014 F1 season got underway in bizarre style in Jerez with scarcely anybody managing meaningful running.
McLaren were among the leading names to spend the day in the garage rather than on the track, while Sebastian Vettel only appeared in a Red Bull for the final 15 minutes of a full day. But even those who did run managed precious little track time.
McLaren: 'hydraulic and electrical installation issues'. Everything (car, engine, g'box) won't go together and start. Unlikely to run today— Ted Kravitz (@tedkravitz) January 28, 2014
Meanwhile when a team did look to be building a bit of rhythm, as Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton did, it came to an abrupt halt when a front-wing failure saw him crash into the barriers at Turn 1, ending his work for the day at lunchtime.
Hamilton managed 18 laps and, despite the setback, was overwhelmingly positive.
Incredibly positive start today! I'm really proud of the team for what they've achieved in getting us here!— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) January 28, 2014
The most tours any driver managed was Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen, whose late burst of activity in the afternoon saw him round the track 31 times. By contrast, on the first day of pre-season testing last season Paul di Resta completed 89 laps in his Force India car.
Out-and-out performance was never going to be the order of the day for the drivers on the season opener. With so much new technology in this year's models, reliability was key before anyone could consider stepping up their pace. But the early signs were far from encouraging.
Practice was red-flagged no fewer than four times, with Hamilton's incident one of several along with Jean-Eric Vergne's Toro Rosso pulling up to a stop between Turns 4 and 5, Sergio Perez halting his Force India in mid-morning and Raikkonen's Ferrari failing early in the day.
But practice is for nothing if not to iron out these kinks, and the teams—and perhaps no less importantly their teammates, who are in line to drive tomorrow—will hope that some essentials were gleaned from a difficult day.
Here are the day's times, as recorded by Autosport:
1. Raikkonen (Ferrari), 1m27.104s (31 laps)
2. Hamilton (Mercedes), 1m27.820s (18 laps)
3. Bottas (Williams), 1m30.082s (7 laps)
4. Perez (Force India), 1m33.161s (11 laps)
5. Vergne (Toro Rosso), 1m36.530s (15 laps)
6. Gutierrez (Sauber), 1m42.257s (7 laps)
7. Vettel (Red Bull), no time (3 laps)
8. Ericsson (Caterham), no time (1 lap)