Formula 1 Pre-Season Testing: 6 Observations from Day 4 at Jerez
With the first pre-season test session of the season now done and dusted, it feels as if the 2014 season is well and truly underway.
Most of the big talking points have revolved around how teams would adapt to the radical new aerodynamic and engine regulation changes, and as expected, there has been no shortage of incident.
Here are the six key observations after the final day of testing at Jerez.
Red Bull Has Endured a Nightmare Test
Unquestionably the biggest story of the week has been the lack of track time for pre-season title favourites Red Bull.
Having completed only 14 laps over the previous three days of testing, the team that had swept all before them in the previous four seasons was forced to concede defeat and pack up with Daniel Ricciardo managing only seven laps on the final day:
A battery problem related to the ERS was isolated as the problem on days two and three before an unspecified problem put a halt to the day’s running.
Red Bull race engineering coordinator Andy Damerum is quoted by BBC Sport as saying that the team understood what the problem was and work is underway to fix the issues:
We were also making fixes to the issues that have arisen from our side and we have made progress there. However, we then discovered a mechanical issue with the car and after investigation it became clear we would not be able to fix this in time to run in the afternoon.
So the decision was taken to retire early, take the data we have amassed and work towards the next test in Bahrain.Two weeks is a long time in Formula 1 and I'm sure Renault will work flat out now to solve the problems we've been having.
Teams Are Starting to Adapt
Although things did not get any better for Red Bull or sister team Toro Rosso on the final day, most of the other teams got substantial mileage under their belts.
Clocking up the most mileage of the day was Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso with 115 laps, five more than McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen. Nico Rosberg also came close to racking up 100 laps, and the 11 drivers involved contributed to the busiest day of testing so far.
Williams Continues to Impress
Having set the second-quickest time of the penultimate day of testing in his first outing for his new Williams team, Felipe Massa was again in impressive form on the final day.
Massa completed a substantial 86 laps of the circuit, clocking a one-minute, 28.229-second lap.
There Were 3 More Red Flags
Not a single day has passed without at least one red flag bringing a halt to proceedings, and the final day of testing was no exception.
Just as he did yesterday, Adrian Sutil found controlling the extra torque of his Sauber something of a tricky proposition and the German spun off backwards into the gravel trap at the final chicane.
Sutil was not the only driver to struggle, with Kevin Magnussen doing exactly the same thing at the same part of the circuit, spinning 180 degrees before grinding to a halt on the circuit, although he did manage to keep his McLaren out of the gravel trap.
And the Dane was not finished there, spinning off at Turn 10 and into the barriers, breaking his front wing in the process.
Kobayashi and Juncadella Get a First Taste of the Action
New Caterham recruit Kamui Kobayashi made a welcome return to F1 action, as did new Force India test and reserve driver Daniel Juncadella.
Juncadella was in impressive form for Force India, setting the third-fastest time of the day from 81 laps, whilst Kobayashi was further off the pace from his 54 laps.
Ecclestone Disappointed by Red Bull Reliability Issues
With the major story of the final test session revolving around the woes of Red Bull, one man in particular is not surprised.
F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has enough troubles of his own and is set to stand trial on bribery charges related to the sale of Formula One in 2005.
But he still had time to tell Reuters that he is unsurprised by the latest reliability issues experienced in Jerez and that such change was unnecessary:
I am disappointed. I hate saying 'I told you so', but I'm disappointed because I did say I told you so and this is what's happened. I know Sebastian is disappointed too because he's a racer. He likes to race. I am upset because last year's championship, apart from the obvious that Sebastian ran away with things, was still a very good championship. This year I'm quite sure if we'd have left things as they were would have been an even better one.
We had an engine that was perfect, everybody liked the sound, it was reliable, didn't cause anybody trouble and was much, much more cheap than what they currently have to use. People loved the excitement of the noise we'd got before. And now I think that's all disappeared so I'm disappointed.