Formula 1 Preseason Testing: 6 Observations from Day 3 at Jerez
With teams starting the third of a four-day preseason testing programme at the Jerez circuit in Spain, there is now a feeling that the F1 season proper is already underway.
Not that you’d really know it judging by the technical issues experienced by many teams over the first three days, but with the dramatic changes in engine regulations, it was always highly likely.
Here are the major talking points from Day 3 in Jerez.
Red Bull’s Nightmare Continues
Having completed just 11 laps over the previous two days of testing, Red Bull Racing’s nightmare start to preseason testing continued on Day 3.
As reported by Autosport yesterday, Red Bull’s problem was related to its battery energy stores. An overnight fix was thought to have cured the problems, but Daniel Ricciardo managed just three laps before the hitch reared its ugly head again.
According to the BBC’s Andrew Benson, Red Bull now have a significant problem on their hands.
There is no doubting now that Red Bull have some kind of significant problem - and engine supplier Renault may well do so, too. Red Bull's design chief Adrian Newey is an undoubted genius, but he is notorious for pushing things to the limit. It may well be that the rear of the Red Bull - a gorgeous thing to behold - is just too tightly packaged, and that this is what is causing the problems with the car.
Red Bull Were Not the Only Team to Struggle
Red Bull may take some crumb of comfort out of the fact that these pesky new engine regulations have not only affected them.
Fernando Alonso stopped his Ferrari F14 T out on the circuit early in the session before Nico Hulkenberg ground to halt at Turn 5.
With just over an hour of the session remaining, the biggest incident of the day came when Adrian Sutil crashed his Sauber at Turn 5.
According to Autosport tech expert Gary Anderson, the crash was the result of a rear suspension failure.
Looking at the CCTV of the accident scene, I'd guess that the Sauber suffered a rear suspension failure. There's one set of solid black lines, which is Sutil being on the brakes, and there is the other set of broken tyre marks which will be the back of the car spinning.
It's an odd place to go off as you are still under power, and if something happens at the rear it steers the car one way or the other. But there is no confirmation from the team on this and as I didn't see what happened, that's based only on what we could see after the crash.
And with just over half an hour remaining, Renault’s disastrous start continued with Jean-Eric Vergne grinding to a halt not once but twice. Still, he did manage 30 laps before that.
The New Marussia MR03 Is Up and Running and Looks Good!
Marussia were supposed to be present from Day 1 of this first test session of the season, but technical glitches meant they only arrived at the circuit late on Wednesday night.
It was not until early in the afternoon that Max Chilton got his first run in the new car, and to everyone’s surprise, it is the best-looking car on the grid.
So far, the new aerodynamic regulations have seen designers respond with ugly-looking appendages on the front nose section to adhere to the new lowered height without compromising aerodynamic efficiency.
Marussia’s answer is a sleek, traditional-looking, progressively sloping front end that would not have looked out of place in previous seasons.
Whether or not it runs quickly is an entirely different matter, but after their initial run, the feedback via the official Marussia Twitter account was positive: "Straight out of the garage & a good clean installation lap. We couldn't have asked for any more than that!"
One more tweet:
"Nice round of applause from the grandstand as @maxchilton completes a fifth and final lap in the new #MR03. A good debut!"
Kevin Magnussen Looks at Home in an F1 Car
New Danish sensation Kevin Magnussen got his first taste of driving the McLaren MP4-29 on Thursday, and he immediately looked at home in his new steed.
Magnussen has, of course, driven for McLaren before at tests in Abu Dhabi and Silverstone, but it was an encouraging sight indeed for him to complete 52 trouble-free laps and set the fastest time of the day in the process with a 1m23.267s effort.
McLaren Look Better Than This Time Last Year
As was the case with Wednesday’s running, McLaren enjoyed another highly productive day with Kevin Magnussen and Jenson Button completing a total of 102 laps between them.
The encouraging news that Button reported yesterday, as quoted on Autosport, is that the car is much better right now than at this stage of last season and that the team knows exactly how to address whatever problem arises.
Our first day last year was quick, but our car had its flaws and we could see that on day one. We had issues that were not going to be easy to solve and at this moment in time we definitely don't have those. There's no horrible issues with the car itself, no big issues with the power unit in terms of how it delivers.
The basic car is where we want it to be. How much we're going to add to this car, aerodynamically and in terms of the engine, is massive so having a good base is important. The great thing is I know exactly what they are and how we can improve the car.
Schumacher Waking Process Begins
Of course, the Formula One news to hit the Jerez paddock on Day 3 was not all about testing times and reliability issues.
Everyone in Jerez was heartened by the news that Michael Schumacher is being slowly taken out of his induced coma, and according to Sky News, he is responding to simple instructions. However, there is still a long, long way to go, and he is still in a very serious condition.
Both Ferrari and Mercedes are displaying messages of support for Schumacher on their cars this week.