The pre season testing took place this week in Jerez, but unlike previous years there is going to be one major change to testing this year. As mentioned in an earlier post Pirelli had requested that one day of testing needs to be used for wet testing, and that is exactly what will happen on Friday. The track at Jerez will be sprayed with water to mimic wet conditions for both drivers and teams.
It will be interesting to see how the new engines and tyres for 2014 perform in wet conditions, but more importantly it will give the drivers the opportunity to get a feel for how their cars will handle with the new engines, and iron out any problems that arise under test conditions.
The first day of testing on Tuesday did not get off to a great start for some of the teams. McLaren did not even manage to record one lap due to their car suffering some sort of “rear end” problem.
Red Bulls Sebastian Vettel also did not get to do any laps as according to Adrian Newey there was a “silly problem overnight”.
Ferrari did not have much more luck either as the Maranello F14T broke down a couple of hundred yards from the garage.
Lewis Hamilton in the new Mercedes car, the W05, faired a bit better and managed nearly 18 laps before suffering a car failure which caused him to skid off at turn one and plough into the barriers. Hamilton also had the same bad luck in 2013 at Jerez, when a brake failure also sent his car into the barriers.
With only 93 laps completed by all teams in total on the first day of testing, this was the lowest figure of laps on day one ever recorded in living memory.
The second day of testing did prove more constructive for many of the teams as the new formula for 2014 started to iron itself out.
Wednesday saw the McLaren team start to make their mark on the track, after working through the night to replace key components, they were on the track just after 9am. With Button at the wheel they proceeded to head the timed laps until Nico Rosberg beat Button’s time by 0.5 of a second, then Kimi Raikkonen in the Ferrari went even faster.
Mercedes were still scratching their heads as to what caused a wing failure on Hamilton’s car on Tuesday. Paddy Lowe, Mercedes design head, stated “We know where it failed” and added “These things are tested extensively so it’s a confusing situation for us”
On Wednesday Button stamped his mark on day 2 as he proceeded to top the times, and completed 43 laps. Already the Mercedes engine in the McLaren was starting to show reliability as it continued to do lap after lap without any problems.
World champion Sebastian Vettel suffered another frustrating day as he once again left the track early after only completing 8 laps due to problems with the Renault battery.
The Mercedes engines have started to show that they are not only reliable, but they also produce the power needed. The Renault engines are at the moment lagging well behind and only time will tell if they can iron out the problems they are experiencing.
Red Bull’s day 3 of testing did not get any better for them as they continued to have problems with the new RB10 engine. Daniel Ricardo’s first lap ended when his car came to a halt on turn seven and the car had to be taken back to the pits on the back of a truck.
Other teams that are also using the Renault engines are fairing no better than the Red bull’s. Torro Rosso and Jean-Eric Vergne only managed 28 laps, and Vergne stopped twice in the space of one hour at the end of the pit lane causing red flags to be shown. Caterham also struggled while only clocking up a total of 10 Laps.
The same could not be said for McLaren though, as they went from strength to strength on day 3 by coming out on top with Kevin Magnussen managing to set the fastest time of the week so far. Magnussen managed a 1:22.276 after taking over from Button half way through the day. The pair managed to complete 52 laps in total.
Even the Marussia MRO3, who had delayed their appearance at Jerez so that they could sort out some undisclosed problems at the factory, still managed to complete more laps than Ricardo.
Lewis Hamilton went on to complete 62 laps with Massa managing a respectable 47 laps.
As mentioned earlier there were plans to soak the track on day 4, but they did not need to, as rain clouds beat them to it. Mercedes set the bar by completing 91 laps within the first three and half hours of the day.
Red Bull’s nightmare week continued with them only managing to complete 7 laps making a total of only 20 laps for the whole week. The RB10 was still struggling with cooling issues causing paint to bubble on the bodywork.
Friday morning saw Fernando Alonso set the fastest time of 1:35.334 with Rosberg setting the second fastest time of 1:36.951. Once again rookie driver Kevin Magnussen showed his ability by setting the third fastest time of 1:38.391.
Friday afternoon saw Red Bull ending their test week early due to ongoing mechanical problems, but the team are confident that Renault will work flat out to resolve the engine problems in time for next months test in Bahrain.
Nico Rosberg in the Mercedes managed to complete a full race simulation before Hamilton took over for the rest of this afternoon.
With this weeks testing coming to a close as I am writing this, the Mercedes engines have come out ahead overall. They not only showed reliability but also the speed needed to produce good results in this test week. The teams that selected the Renault engines have suffered this week, but at the end of the day this is what test weeks are all about.
Renault have a lot of work to do in the next few weeks to iron out the problems in time for the testing in Bahrain next month. Although Mercedes engines came out on top this week I am sure that the Renault engines will perform much better in Bahrain.
The problem is though, that whilst Renault are trying to sort out the problems they have already encountered, the teams with the Mercedes engines are in a better position to tweak the cars, and the engines, to try and get more speed out of them without worrying if the engines will perform or not.
One thing is for sure, next month’s test in Bahrain will be worth watching to see how the two engines stack up against each other in preparation for the Australian Grand Prix in March.