Formula One: 2014 Jerez Test Recap

The 2014 Formula One season doesn’t kickoff properly for another month-and-a-half but pre-season testing starts early as the teams try to get their heads around new engines, new energy recovery systems (ERS) and a new rules package for the cars. From the looks of last week’s test in Jerez, some teams are going to need all the time they can get to get sorted for this season.

Day 1 (January 28)

The first day of the new season was painfully quiet and I’m not talking about the apparently too quiet turbo V6 engines. A total of 93 laps were attempted by the drivers and teams.

I say attempted because there were a lot of problems. Kimi Raikkonen’s car stopped on his first installation lap. Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes suffered a front wing failure under braking for the first turn. And Red Bull only finished assembling the RB10 for a couple of laps running at the end of the day. If things didn’t pick up quickly, it was going to be a long week.

  1. Kimi Raikkonen – Ferrari – 1:27.104
  2. Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes – 1:27.820
  3. Valtteri Bottas – Williams-Mercedes – 1:30.082
  4. Sergio Perez – Force India-Mercedes – 1:33.161
  5. Jean-Eric Vergne – Toro Rosso-Renault – 1:36.530
  6. Esteban Gutierrez – Sauber-Ferrari – 1:42.257
  7. Sebastian Vettel – Red Bull-Renault – No Time
  8. Marcus Ericsson – Caterham-Renault – No Time

Day 2 (January 29)

f1-2014-jerez-test-vettel-red-bullWednesday was not a good day to be running a Renault engine. Red Bull was suffering from issues with the ERS setup on the RB10. Ericsson’s Caterham ground to a halt having run only 11 laps on the day. And Toro Rosso didn’t get their car out of the garage at all.

In the team’s first day of running, Jenson Button was on top of the timesheets. The Ferrari may have had a little trouble during the day but Raikkonen was still second fastest. The big news of the day was Mercedes running Nico Rosberg for 97 laps on the day. It might be early but Mercedes may have a big advantage in the engine department off the hop. Renault… Not so much.

  1. Jenson Button – McLaren-Mercedes – 1:24.165
  2. Kimi Raikkonen – Ferrari – 1:24.812
  3. Valtteri Bottas – Williams-Mercedes – 1:25.344
  4. Nico Rosberg – Mercedes – 1:25.588
  5. Sergio Perez – Force India-Mercedes – 1:28.376
  6. Esteban Gutierrez – Sauber-Ferrari – 1:33.270
  7. Marcus Ericsson – Caterham-Renault – 1:37.975
  8. Sebastian Vettel – Red Bull-Renault – 1:38.320

Day 3 (January 30)

f1-2014-jerez-test-magnussen-mclarenAfter being the hot engine of the last couple of seasons thanks to Red Bull’s success, it looks like the last thing you want in your car this year is a Renault engine. ERS problems brought Daniel Ricciardo’s first lap out of the pits to a smokey stop and he only managed two more installation laps before the team gave up. Mechanical issues also impeded running for both Caterham and Toro Rosso. It’s a good year to have a Renault so far. They have a lot of development work to do.

While the French engined cars struggled, the German engines led the field. The top four drivers (and five of the top six) ran Mercedes engines. They were led by Kevin Magnussen, the McLaren rookie, who turn his first laps in the MP4-29 during the afternoon’s running. Williams’s relative speed from the first two days may not have been a fluke as Felipe Massa improved on Bottas’s pair of thirds with a second on the day’s time sheets.

  1. Kevin Magnussen – McLaren-Mercedes – 1:23.276
  2. Felipe Massa – Williams-Mercedes – 1:23.700
  3. Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes – 1:23.952
  4. Jenson Button – McLaren-Mercedes – 1:25.030
  5. Fernando Alonso – Ferrari – 1:25.495
  6. Nico Hulkenberg – Force India-Mercedes – 1:26.096
  7. Jean-Eric Vergne – Toro Rosso-Renault – 1:29.915
  8. Adrian Sutil – Sauber-Ferrari – 1:30.161
  9. Robin Frijns – Caterham-Renault – No Time
  10. Max Chilton – Marussia-Ferrari – No Time
  11. Daniel Ricciardo – Red Bull-Renault – No Time

Day 4 (January 31)

f1-2014-jerez-test-massa-williamsTimes were a little slower on the final day of the Jerez test due to damp track conditions but the Williams still looks very fast. Old Phil Massa topped the timesheets on the last day of the test with former teammate Fernando Alonso almost a whole second behind. The Marussia looked surprisingly fast with Jules Bianchi timing in 6th. This season could be wide open at the rate things are going.

While the Mercedes cars were upfront, the Renault cars were all at the back with various maladies preventing the two Red Bull teams from getting many laps in. Ricciardo managed only seven laps on track while Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat ran only nine laps. When do the headlines start asking if Newey is too smart/aggressive for his own good?

  1. Felipe Massa – Williams-Mercedes – 1:28.229
  2. Fernando Alonso – Ferrari – 1:29.145
  3. Daniel Juncadella – Force India-Mercedes – 1:29.457
  4. Kevin Magnussen – McLaren-Mercedes – 1:30.806
  5. Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes – 1:30.822
  6. Jules Bianchi – Marussia-Ferrari – 1:32.222
  7. Adrian Sutil – Sauber-Ferrari – 1:36.571
  8. Nico Rosberg – Mercedes – 1:36.951
  9. Kamui Kobayashi – Caterham-Renault – 1:43.193
  10. Daniil Kvyat – Toro Rosso-Renault – 1:44.016
  11. Daniel Ricciardo – Red Bull-Renault – 1:45.374

When you look at the overall times from the test, a pattern quickly emerges. The top four drivers and eight of the top ten drivers are all driving Mercedes-powered cars. The other two in the top ten are the Ferraris of Alonso and Raikkonen.

The most telling statistic from the first test isn’t times or the order of drivers on the timesheet. The most frightening number is laps completed. Mercedes-powered cars completed 875 laps. That’s almost twice as much mileage as Ferrari and almost 6 times the laps completed of the Renault Cars. Mercedes GP completed 309 laps themselves. Red Bull ran only 21 laps. The tow truck may have run more laps last week. That’s a bad start for the defending champions.

Best Times of the Test

  1. Kevin Magnussen – McLaren-Mercedes – 1:23.276
  2. Felipe Massa – Williams-Mercedes – 1:23.700
  3. Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes – 1:23.952
  4. Jenson Button – McLaren-Mercedes – 1:24.165
  5. Kimi Raikkonen – Ferrari – 1:24.812
  6. Valtteri Bottas – Williams-Mercedes – 1:25.344
  7. Fernando Alonso – Ferrari – 1:25.495
  8. Nico Rosberg – Mercedes – 1:25.588
  9. Nico Hulkenberg – Force India-Mercedes – 1:26.096
  10. Sergio Perez – Force India-Mercedes – 1:28.376
  11. Daniel Juncadella – Force India-Mercedes – 1:29.457
  12. Jean-Eric Vergne – Toro Rosso-Renault – 1:29.915
  13. Adrian Sutil – Sauber-Ferrari – 1:30.161
  14. Jules Bianchi – Marussia-Ferrari – 1:32.222
  15. Esteban Gutierrez – Sauber-Ferrari – 1:33.270
  16. Marcus Ericsson – Caterham-Renault – 1:37.795
  17. Sebastian Vettel – Red Bull-Renault – 1:38.820
  18. Kamui Kobayashi – Caterham-Renault – 1:43.193
  19. Daniil Kvyat – Toro Rosso-Renault – 1:44.016
  20. Daniel Ricciardo – Red Bull-Renault – 1:45.374
  21. Robin Frijns – Caterham-Renault – No Time
  22. Max Chilton – Marussia-Ferrari – No Time

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