The Mercedes team must have had cause of concern when an alarming front wing failure caused Lewis Hamilton to clatter into the barriers at Turn 1.
Rewind almost a year to the day and Hamilton suffered a similar fate at Jerez as a rear brake failure saw him plough headfirst into the barriers at the Dry Sack hairpin.
But three days after Hamilton’s latest crash, the Mercedes team had racked up more miles and suffered fewer technical issues than any other team on the grid in this, a season where reliability is of paramount importance.
Nico Rosberg joined the fray on day two of testing and although not the fastest man on the circuit, he was the only driver to complete long runs, the last of which covered 24 laps.
Afterwards, Rosberg hailed his sequence of long runs as a massive boost for the team so early on in proceedings, as quoted on Autosport.
For sure I'm smiling, the team did a great job. Yesterday went a bit wrong with Lewis having a shunt but they fixed the bits during the night and flew them out, so thanks to all of you in England for fixing that.
We had such a great day - we just drove and drove, loads of laps and that's what we need at the moment. That's how you can really progress and get rid of the reliability problems and understand everything better, so it's been a very positive day.
Mercedes was again the team to complete the most laps on the third day of testing with Hamilton once again behind the wheel in completing 62 laps of the Jerez circuit. The car’s pace was also good with the Brit—just .676s off Kevin Magnussen’s quickest lap time for the day.
And the best was yet to come on the final day: Mercedes bringing down the curtain on a highly encouraging opening test with Hamilton and Rosberg managing a substantial 132 laps trouble-free between them.
In total, Mercedes racked up an impressive 309 laps over the four days of testing with Hamilton third quickest overall.
Coupled with the woes of chief title rival Red Bull, which managed a paltry 21 laps in total, Hamilton hailed the effort on Autosport as a “fantastic” one for the team.
It has been fantastic. Really fantastic. [Mileage] is that biggest positive we can take from here. The car is reliable. We are not focused on anyone else at the moment, we are just trying to focus on ourselves and trying to improve and get as much data as we can, as many miles as we can and really try to take it one step at a time.
Even at this early stage and purely on the back of Jerez, Mercedes has been installed as title favorites for 2014.
But with two more tests still to come before the opening race of the season five weeks from now, Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff has urged the need for caution.
I think these people should look at the past. Very often the so-called favourites after the first couple of days of testing were not the favourites when the season actually started or panned out. It is too early right now. I would say we are cautiously satisfied. We thought that we could be running into more problems than we actually did with the whole new concept.
It looked difficult on the first day of testing, but in the end the car seems to be running reliably. We cannot judge performance yet - we are far away from performance, far away from what we think what our potential is. There are still little bits and pieces missing, and not functioning in the way we want them to function. But we are cautiously optimistic and it looks like the guys have done a good job.
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