Formula One: 2014 Bahrain Test Recap

While I originally thought that we didn’t learn very much from the initial four days of testing of the 2014 Formula One season, it turns out that things really didn’t change that much between tests. The Mercedes cars are still up front. The Renaults have massive issues that desperately require solving. And the Ferraris are somewhere in the middle. Except for Marussia who had computer troubles because of a virus. You can’t make this up.

Day 1 (February 19)

You know, if you could actually see the car numbers, it would be nice to see the old #27 at the head of the field once again. Nico Hulkenberg, whose rights to the lineage of the legendary #27 I won’t dispute, was the fastest driver on the first day of testing at Bahrain. Those Mercedes power plants sure have looked strong so far and this test did nothing to disprove that.

The Renaults, on the other hand, weren’t looking so good. Sebastian Vettel led the way with the fifth fastest time after running 14 laps. That was still more than the combined running of Lotus’s Romain Grosjean (8 laps) and Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat (5 laps). On the plus side for Renault, Robin Frijns put in 68 laps for Caterham. Maybe the engine isn’t a complete write-off.

  1. Nico Hulkenberg – Force India-Mercedes – 1:36.880
  2. Fernando Alonso – Ferrari – 1:37.879
  3. Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes – 1:37.908
  4. Kevin Magnussen – McLaren-Mercedes – 1:38.295
  5. Sebastian Vettel – Red Bull-Renault – 1:40.224
  6. Adrian Sutil – Sauber-Ferrari – 1:40.443
  7. Robin Frijns – Caterham-Renault – 1:42.534
  8. Daniil Kvyat – Toro Rosso-Renault – 1:44.346
  9. Romain Grosjean – Lotus-Renault – 1:44.832
  10. Felipe Massa – Williams-Mercedes – No Time
  11. Jules Bianchi – Marussia-Ferrari – No Time

Day 2 (February 20)

f1-2014-bahrain-test-magnussen-mclarenAfter some worries about the speed of this year’s cars against last year’s, Kevin Magnussen showed that all hope isn’t lost for those who love speed. His fast time on the second day of the test was faster than last year’s fastest race lap. Sure, it was over two seconds off the pole time but this is important for those complaining that F1 needs to be fast and loud to be great.

After a terrible day for the Renault-powered cars, they did far better on Day 2. Three of the four teams completed more than a race distance’s worth of laps. The exception was Lotus who managed only 18 laps in only their second day of testing in 2014.

  1. Kevin Magnussen – McLaren-Mercedes – 1:34.910
  2. Nico Hulkenberg – Force India-Mercedes – 1:36.445
  3. Fernando Alonso – Ferrari – 1:36.516
  4. Nico Rosberg – Mercedes – 1:36.965
  5. Valtteri Bottas – Williams-Mercedes – 1:37.328
  6. Kamui Kobayashi – Caterham-Renault – 1:39.855
  7. Sebastian Vettel – Red Bull-Renault – 1:40.340
  8. Jean-Eric Vergne – Toro Rosso-Renault – 1:40.609
  9. Esteban Gutierrez – Sauber-Ferrari – 1:40.717
  10. Romain Grosjean – Lotus-Renault – 1:41.670
  11. Max Chilton – Marussia-Ferrari – 1:42.511

Day 3 (February 21)

f1-2014-bahrain-test-hamilton-mercedesMore teams started stretching their legs on the third day of the test. Lewis Hamilton may have been the fastest driver but four cars completed in excess of 90 laps. The fastest was Jenson Button who was second on the time sheets after completing 103 laps. Esteban Gutierrez had a marked increase in pace over Day 2 by getting the 4th fastest speed having completed 96 laps. Marcus Ericsson continued getting to grip with F1 by completing 98 laps. Williams completed 115 laps with 60 to Massa and 55 to Bottas who was used to help the team practice pit stops rather than set times.

Not everyone had a good run on the day. After a solid day of running, the RB10 only managed 28 laps in the hands of Daniel Ricciardo. He should get used to having shorter runs than Seb. Pastor Maldonado’s first running of 2014 lasted only 26 laps in between two breakdowns. And Max Chilton’s Marussia only ran 4 laps in what is proving to be an exceptionally difficult test for the Russian squad.

  1. Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes – 1:34.263
  2. Jenson Button – McLaren-Mercedes – 1:34.976
  3. Felipe Massa – Williams-Mercedes – 1:37.066
  4. Esteban Gutierrez – Sauber-Ferrari – 1:37.180
  5. Sergio Perez – Force India-Mercedes – 1:37.367
  6. Kimi Raikkonen – Ferrari – 1:37.467
  7. Daniil Kvyat – Toro Rosso-Renault – 1:38.974
  8. Pastor Maldonado – Lotus-Renault – 1:39.642
  9. Daniel Ricciardo – Red Bull-Renault – 1:40.781
  10. Marcus Ericsson – Caterham-Renault – 1:42.130
  11. Max Chilton – Marussia-Ferrari – 1:46.672
  12. Valtteri Bottas – Williams-Mercedes – No Time

Day 4 (February 22)

f1-2014-bahrain-test-nasr-williamsThe final day of the test cemented Mercedes’ dominance of running so far. The German engine manufacturer went 8 for 8 to open testing ahead of the 2014 season. Four different teams have headed the pack so it’s not the cars but it must be those engine that are doing the trick. I wonder if Lotus or Caterham have put a call into Honda.

Anyway, Nico Rosberg was on top but the surprise of the day was new Williams test and reserve driver Felipe Nasr who managed to time in 4th in his first run in the FW36.

  1. Nico Rosberg – Mercedes – 1:33.283
  2. Jenson Button – McLaren-Mercedes – 1:34.957
  3. Kimi Raikkonen – Ferrari – 1:36.718
  4. Felipe Nasr – Williams-Mercedes – 1:37.569
  5. Pastor Maldonado – Lotus-Renault – 1:38.707
  6. Sergio Perez – Force India-Mercedes – 1:39.258
  7. Daniel Ricciardo – Red Bull-Renault – 1:39.837
  8. Jean-Eric Vergne – Toro Rosso-Renault – 1:40.472
  9. Kamui Kobayashi – Caterham-Renault – 1:43.027
  10. Marcus Ericsson – Caterham-Renault – 1:45.094
  11. Adrian Sutil – Sauber-Ferrari – No Time
  12. Jules Bianchi – Marussia-Ferrari – No Time

After the second round of pre-season tests, it’s clear that the early advantage goes to Mercedes-powered cars. The top five drivers and seven of the top ten have Mercedes engines. The combined efforts of the four Mercedes teams was 2,900 km more than Renault’s cars ran and over double the mileage completed by Ferrari-powered cars.

Now, when I say that, I should mention that Red Bull and Toro Rosso managed to combine for less than 1,400 km in total. Ferrari-powered cars would have done better if Marussia stayed off the porn sites and paid for anti-virus software. If you remove Marussia from the distance rankings, the bottom three are Toro Rosso, Red Bull and Lotus. There’s still plenty of work to do in that Renault camp if they want to be even remotely competitive this season.

Best Times of the Test

  1. Nico Rosberg – Mercedes – 1:33.283
  2. Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes – 1:34.263
  3. Kevin Magnussen – McLaren-Mercedes – 1:34.910
  4. Jenson Button – McLaren-Mercedes – 1:34.957
  5. Nico Hulkenberg – Force India-Mercedes – 1:36.445
  6. Fernando Alonso – Ferrari – 1:36.516
  7. Kimi Raikkonen – Ferrari – 1:36.718
  8. Felipe Massa – Williams-Mercedes – 1:37.066
  9. Esteban Gutierrez – Sauber-Ferrari – 1:37.180
  10. Valtteri Bottas – Williams-Mercedes – 1:37.328
  11. Sergio Perez – Force India-Mercedes – 1:37.367
  12. Felipe Nasr – Williams-Mercedes – 1:37.569
  13. Pastor Maldonado – Lotus-Renault – 1:38.707
  14. Daniil Kvyat – Toro Rosso-Renault – 1:38.974
  15. Daniel Ricciardo – Red Bull-Renault – 1:39.837
  16. Kamui Kobayashi – Caterham-Renault – 1:39.855
  17. Sebastian Vettel – Red Bull-Renault – 1:40.224
  18. Adrian Sutil – Sauber-Ferrari – 1:40.443
  19. Jean-Eric Vergne – Toro Rosso-Renault – 1:40.472
  20. Romain Grosjean – Lotus-Renault – 1:41.670
  21. Marcus Ericsson – Caterham-Renault – 1:42.130
  22. Max Chilton – Marussia-Ferrari – 1:42.511
  23. Robin Frijns – Caterham-Renault – 1:42.534
  24. Jules Bianchi – Marussia-Ferrari – No Time

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