Jerez: Day 4 Analysis
Red Bull Racing are in trouble. Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo managed just four more laps than he did yesterday. The Australian completed 7 laps in the morning and brought Red Bull’s total laps for the week to 21, a desperately poor number – and one that will justify Lotus’ absence at Jerez. By lunchtime the team confirmed once again that the car would not run, and they would instead pack up early to return back to Milton Keynes. The factory will have to work hard over the next couple of weeks to rectify the RB10’s overheating and cooling issues. It will require a redesign of the whole rear end ‘coke-bottle’ area of the car and Adrian Newey is already back at base re-drawing and re-designing.
“It’s been a very difficult test,” said Team Principal Christian Horner. “We have had numerous Renault issues as well as chassis-cooling issues, which have affected our progress.”
Horner also confirmed that the problems they have can be fixed before the next test in Bahrain in the middle of February, “Despite the lack of mileage, what we have managed to learn shows that the problems should be solvable for the next test in Bahrain. Part of the purpose of this early test was to learn about any issues ahead of the start of the season and there will now be a lot of focus on the dyno over the next few weeks.”
Felipe Massa went quickest of the day on the damp Jerez circuit. The Brazilian was only in his second day of running for the team and he managed to set a benchmark time of 1m28.229, which was almost a second faster than nearest competitor and former team mate Fernando Alonso. The Williams managed to complete 86 laps in the process. Massa said: “I’m pleased with what I have seen in the team this week. For sure it is important to be competitive.”
The Ferrari of Fernando Alonso rounded the track the most times out of anyone with 115 laps without failure. The Spaniard finished the session in second place and the Ferrari is now capable of running seemingly without reliability issues and Alonso was able to conduct longer runs whilst practicing pit stops and launches from the end of the pitlane. The Italian team will be wanting to maintain this performance for the warmer Bahrain test.
Force India’s test driver Daniel Juncadella finished the day in third place after a fault-free day. The Silverstone-based team were hoping to gain more mileage after suffering problems with the car on all three of the previous days running and Juncadella racked up 81 laps setting a time of 1m29.457.
Day 3 pacesetter Kevin Magnussen completed the day in fourth place with a time of 1m30.806. The Dane managed to complete the most laps McLaren have had all test, with 110. Magnussen had a bad end to the day however. With less than an hour of the session remaining he spun the MP4-29 at the Ayrton Senna chicane and stalled the car, bringing out the red flags. Because of the lack of damage to the car, he was able to get out again before the end of the session, but crashed his McLaren into the barriers on the exit of turn 10. The test has proven to be a success for McLaren, who missed day one after failing to set up their car in time. They have the added bonus of a rear wishbone appendage that a lot of teams up and down the paddock will be trying hard to replicate over the next few weeks before the two tests in Bahrain.
Mercedes changed their testing plan in the morning and decided to split driving duties at the lunchtime break in order to allow Lewis Hamilton some more time in the car. Nico Rosberg started off in the morning and completed a massive 91 laps of the Jerez circuit in a little under 3 hours of running. The Mercedes looked extremely drive-able, even in the wet conditions. Rosberg was able to complete something akin to a race stint, he was able to roll around over 40 laps entering the pits three times for scheduled pitstops before leaving and continuing his race stint. Given that the track temperature barely made it into double figures all morning, it will not be representative of any real running as the cars and tyres will not experience these conditions again throughout the rest of the season. But Mercedes will be impressed by its mileage without reliability issues, a major plus before going to Bahrain.
Lewis Hamilton took over in the afternoon and completed 41 laps and set a laptime of 1m30.822. The Mercedes ran without fault all day and managed to complete the most mileage out of all the teams, with a combined total of 132 laps for the day.
Jules Bianchi surprised in his new Marussia. It was the first time the Frenchman had tried the new car and despite only completing 25 laps for the day, he ended up less than four seconds off Massa’s pace with a time of 1m32.222. Marussia had only managed to get their car up and running on Thursday after being unable to piece their car together back at the factory. The team are using Ferrari engines this year, and that could have a say in how well they perform when the season gets underway. The Ferrari and the Mercedes already appear to have the upper hand on the Renault engines.
Adrian Sutil was once again back in the Sauber. The German driver ended up in the barrier on Thursday and with just an hour and a half left of today’s session he spun his Sauber into the gravel just before the last hairpin. The Sauber did manage to get back out again for some more laps before the end of the day. Sutil managed to set a laptime of 1m39.941 and he completed 69 laps. Sauber have confirmed that they are struggling with braking issues this week, attributable to the new brake-by-wire system the teams are using. It explains why the Sauber car has been unable to set representative lap times all week. The Swiss team will hope to resolve their issues to get some proper running underway in Bahrain in February.
Caterham had to call their test to an end with a couple of hours remaining when they discovered a power unit component issue, which is another Renault problem. Kamui Kobayashi was running in the car for Friday and managed 54 laps. The Caterham team have had their issues this week but have come away from Jerez completing 74 laps, 34 more than Red Bull managed across all four days. Not as high as the team would have hoped, but given the Renault issues up and down the pitlane this week, they have made the best out of the bad situation, a point confirmed by Kobayashi, “My first day in the car may have ended earlier than we’d planned after another problem with the Renault engine, but, from where we’ve been earlier this week, it’s very good to have completed 54 laps.”
Daniil Kvyat has had a terrible week. He was unable to get any running in on Wednesday as the car never left the garage for reliability reasons and today the Russian only managed 9 laps setting a time of 1m44.016. Kvyat ended the day bringing out the red flags after stopping out on the track with Kevin Magnussen. It is very probable that Toro Rosso are having the same issues this week as the Red Bull team, on account for their similar chassis and engine partner.
What we have learnt?
- Mercedes have the edge. Their power units have completed a combined 875 laps in four days at the Jerez test. Ferrari power units have managed 444 laps and Renault just 151. All the teams have completed a total of 1470 laps over the four days.
- Mercedes have had great reliability for the laps they have done, they have completed six times the amount of laps the Renault has achieved. The Ferrari too had managed good reliability but did have to stop a few times on circuit with small problems. The Renault powered teams have had a torrid time. Completing 151 laps is not what they would expect and they will need to go away and fix the problems they have had in Jerez in time for Bahrain.
- Red Bull are in trouble. Just 21 laps for the week is not what the champions were hoping for. Cooling problems with their Renault Energy Recovery Systems will require a chassis redesign.
- Formula One got quieter. The new 1.6 V6 turbos still generate an impressive sound, but the noise is nowhere near to that of the V8 or V10 era.
- Pirelli may well have sorted their problems. Despite the cars not running at full pace and track temperatures being so long, the Pirelli’s held up and have not had any issues or complaints from any drivers. The hotter climate of Bahrain will prove to be a larger test for the tyre company though.
- McLaren have a trick up their sleeve. The team didn’t run on Tuesday so we never got a glimpse of the rear suspension fairing they are running in order to generate more downforce. Teams up and down the paddock will now look to copy the idea.
- Mercedes have a good base on which to build their car. Good high and low speed cornering and a solid engine is a great first step.
- Lotus haven’t missed a thing. With Renault suffering so many problems and plenty of their rivals not getting much mileage in, the Enstone based team have not really missed too much. They will have to hope for a quick car straight out the garage in Bahrain though to ensure they don’t lose out too much to their competitors.
- And of course, it all means nothing. We can’t read anything into the times, we don’t know who is running what program, with what fuel or how hard they are pushing on the track. Maybe we will begin a glimpse of the real pace in Bahrain on the 19th of February…