The Jerez #F1 Test. What did we learn?
Jerez was always going to be a difficult test for the F1 teams. Coming earlier in the year than most years (The rules had to be amended to allow testing in January.) and with a completely new formula. There was certainly a lot to learn and it was always going to be touch & go to get the cars ready in time.
In fact Lotus couldn’t make it in time as were not ready, and Marussia didn’t make it until half way through the test due to issues discovered when firing up the car back in the factory, as such the car had to be repaired before shipping it out to Jerez.
Engine Manufacturer Mileage
Mercedes 875 laps (3874kms)
Ferrari 444 laps (1966kms)
Renault 151 laps (668kms)
The new power units are ultra-complex and completely new for the season. Gone are the V8 engines and in come the new 1.6ltr V6 Turbo engine’s with Hybrid Energy Recovery Systems (ERS) – (See more details in my 2004 guide here) There is certainly a lot for the teams to learn. So Mileage on the new power units is essential.
Mercedes have clearly stolen a march on their rivalls with impressive reliability allowing the most laps (nearly double of Ferrari). The figure is aided by having four teams at running the whole test and of course, the engine being reliable.
Ferrar will be pleased to clock up much more mileage in comparison to Renault which has had various issues with the energy store and with cooling issues that they hadn’t picked up in their extensive dyno testing of the new units.
Lets now review the test team by team. (Please note that there is not a lot to read into the actual lap times as these are the best times over the week and different drivers drove on different days.)
21 Laps (92kms)
Sebastian Vettel 1m38.820s
Daniel Ricciardo 1m45.374s
Red Bull have had the worst possible start to 2014 only completing 21 laps and packing up early on the last day due to further problems. The common consensus is that the Renault power unit is having various issues which are being made worse by Adrian Newey’s notoriously tight packaging of the car to get the most aero benefit.
Whilst the drivers are still grinning and towing the company line that There is plenty of time to get everything fixeed”, its clear that they certainly have the most to do if they want to be in a strong position to start their title defence in Melbourne in little under 6 weeks time.
309 Laps (1367kms)
Lewis Hamilton 1m23.952s
Nico Rosberg 1m25.588s
Mercedes must consider this to be a successful test session. As an engine supplier, all of their teams managed significant mileage however more importantly the works team completed more kms than anyone else.
Lewis Hamilton was the first to roll out of the pit lane on Tuesday morning and the team lost the afternoon’s running due to a front wing failure. However the team made up the time and gave Hamilton an extra afternoon’s running on Friday. They key points of their test is that they have been reliable and have managed a full race distance simulation. They will certainly have a lot more data and have a good base from which to develop.
251 Laps (1111kms)
Kimi Raikkonen 1m24.812s
Fernando Alonso 1m25.495s
Ferrari start 2014 with a lot of attention, uniting two world champions in their team has certainly got people talking! The team needs this year to be a success, or they could lose arguably there biggest asset – Fernando Alonso and heads will roll. They have certainly thrown everything at this year with a new wind tunnel and a complete restructure of the technical department.
Luckily for them the engine has so far been reliable, although they will be behind Mercedes on engine data as a) they have less teams and b)one of those teams (Marussia) only arrived half way through the test)
The team must look back at there 251 laps as being solid but not spectacular however they will have some good data to work on and have must be pleased at where they are especially when compared to their energy drink manufacturing rivals.
245 Laps (1084kms)
Kevin Magnussen 1m23.276s
Jenson Button 1m24.165s
Mclaren came to the test under a whirlwind of press speculation with the new car being released with no title sponsor, Ron Dennis re-taking control of the group and Martin Whitmarsh seemingly brushed aside. The big news during the week was that of Eric Bouillier (Former team principal of Lotus) being appointed as the “Racing Director” of McLaren, effectively working in the team principal role alongside the new position of McLaren Racing CEO which is yet to be filled.
On track there were worrying signs when the car did not make an appearance on day 1, however the team certainly made up for it over the remaining 3 days as they racked up 245 laps and the fastest time of the test. The car seemingly reliable and features some truly innovative rear suspension blocker aero parts which have got the tongues wagging in the paddock! Whilst it is too early to tell how good the car is, the team are certainly a lot more optimistic and happy with this car than they were last year!
146 Laps (646kms)
Nico Hulkenberg 1m26.096s
Sergio Perez 1m28.376s
Daniel Juncadella 1m29.457s
Whilst having more issues than the other Mercedes powered teams, Force India managed 81 laps on their final day which shows us that they seem to have got on top of any reliability / teething troubles. The car seems well packaged and they certainly have two competent race drivers. With some solid laps and equally solid lap times it looks like they have a good base-line in which to base their development on and will be taking some good data away from this test.
163 Laps (721kms)
Adrian Sutil 1m30.161s
Esteban Gutierrez 1m33.270s
Sauber managed more laps than their nearest rivals Force India but were also quite a bit slower. Sutil did damage the car quite significantly with a shunt on the Thursday citing trouble getting used to the new Brake-By-Wire system and finding the car quite difficult to drive.
54 Laps (239kms)
Jean-Eric Vergne 1m29.915s
Daniil Kvyat 1m44.016s
Toro Rosso managed a rather poor 54 laps in total over the 4 days and had much the same troubles as affected the sister Red Bull team. Its clear that the Renault engine problems are affecting all of their teams and not always in the same way. This is a real shame for Kvyat who really needs the seat time as a rookie. The team will be disappointed with the test and have a lot of work to do for Bahrain!
175 Laps (774kms)
Felipe Massa 1m23.700s
Valtteri Bottas 1m25.344s
After a terrible year in 2013 the striking blue liveried Williams was a joy to watch in Jerez. A very nicely packaged car which seems to be both reliable and fast out-of-the-box should prove a great base-line for the team to move forwards with. Massa said that he felt “more comfortable then expected” with the team and the car. Its certainly true that the teams switch to Mercedes as the supplier for their power units was very well timed given the problems that Renault are having.
30 Laps (132kms)
Jules Bianchi 1m32.222s
Max Chilton No time
Marussia started the test by announcing that they would be missing at least the first day as they had to hold the car back at base to solve a small technical issue that really was better off fixed at the factory then at the track. When the car did roll out on the Thursday it certainly looks like a very neat and tidy package. Whilst retaining their driver line-up from 2013 they have continuity in every department which can only be beneficial.
The car is a much more competitive looking design than their previous efforts and there is real optimism that this can be the first car to bring them into the points.
76 Laps (336kms)
Marcus Ericsson 1m37.795s
Kamui Kobayashi 1m43.193s
Robin Frijns No time
Caterham are the Renault engined team with the most laps however at 76 laps its certainly nothing to be too excited about. The car certainly looks eye catching with its very distinctive nose section and is the car that the team need to get them into the points. With a new driver line-up a shot in the arm for the team which seemingly needed the motivation boost, it can clearly be draining spending lots of money and going to 19 races just to qualify and race at the back with no hope of any points.
The team certainly suffered the same problems as other Renault teams which severely hampered their running. The team have plenty to do!
So what have we learned?
We have learned that the Mercedes and Ferrari engines are fairly reliable, That Mclaren are looking at a better year than last, and that The Renault powered teams have an awful lot of catching up to do.
This test was always going to provide more questions than answers and was never likely to give us an indication of pace but, the test has helped us learn about who does have serious issues, and has given us a great opportunity to see and hear these new 2014 machines in action.