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Hulkenberg fastest in Bahrain as Red Bull Racing’s woes continue
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Posted By: Justin Hynes  |  19 Feb 2014   |  5:39 pm GMT  |  219 comments

Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg went quickest on the first day of the second pre-season test in Bahrain as Red Bull Racing again hit trouble. Sebastian Vettel completed just 14 laps of the Sakhir circuit in the afternoon before a mechanical issue brought his running to a halt.

The defending champions arrived in Bahrain hoping that work at its Milton Keynes base and at Renault’s HQ in Viry had cured the problems that restricted the team to just 21 laps in Jerez but day one Bahrain began in the same style with RB10 garage-bound until the afternoon.

When Vettel eventually emerged at around 1.45pm he began to make progress, eventually climbing to fifth on the timesheet before the RB10 slowed to a halt trackside with a mechanical issue.

“Obviously we’re not happy with where we are now and we have a long way of ahead of us. The first gut feeling from the car is OK but we need more running,” said Vettel afterwards. “It’s not easy to find a quick fix but I think we understand the problems. We sorted out the issues from Jerez and we were able to do some laps today. However, very often you fix one problem and another pops up, which is what happened.”

Nico Hulkenberg clocked the day’s fastest time, the Force India driver recording a lap of 1:36.880 on the soft Pirelli tyre. The German also underlined the reliability of Mercedes’ power unit completing 78 laps. Other Mercedes runners also piled on the miles, with Kevin Magnussen completing 81 laps for McLaren and Lewis Hamilton managing 74 laps for Mercedes itself. Felipe Massa, though, only managed five late laps in the Mercedes powered Williams FW36, as the Grove outfit’s day was scuppered by a fuel system problem that necessitated the removal of the power unit.

It was Ferrari-powered Adrian Sutil who logged the greatest number of laps however, the Sauber driver touring the 5.412km circuit 82 times. Ferrari, with Fernando Alonso at the wheel, managed 64 laps, despite the Spaniard being sidelined briefly in the morning by a “fuel mix” problem.

With Hulkenberg a second clear of the field on the soft tyre, second spot on the timesheet went to Alonso, who set a time of 1:37.879. Hamilton was third fastest with a lap of 1:37.908. He was followed by Magnussen and Vettel.

The Red Bull Racing driver wasn’t the only Renault-powered driver in trouble, however. After a successful shakedown recently, the full debut of Lotus’ E22 was awaited with much anticipation. Romain Grosjean managed just eight laps, however, before he was sidelined with battery and software problems.

Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat also hit trouble. The Russian rookie’s morning running was erased by an oil leak and his afternoon track time was brought to a halt by an unspecified issue just after he’d set his first timed lap.

Jules Bianchi, meanwhile, was only able to take the Marussia MR03 out for three installation laps, as the team struggled to sort “IT configuration” problems.

Bahrain Test 1 – Day One Times
1. Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:36.880 78 laps
2. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:37.879 64 laps
3. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:37.908 74 laps
4. Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1:38.295 81 laps
5. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing 1:40.224 14 laps
6. Adrian Sutil Sauber 1:40.443 82 laps
7. Robin Frijns Caterham 1:42.534 68 laps
8. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:44.346 5 laps
9. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:44.832 8 laps
9. Felipe Massa Williams No time 5 laps
10. Jules Bianchi Marussia No time 3 laps

 

 

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219 Comments
  1. Arun says:

    James, do you think that the teams will bring in more updates and do performance tests later in this second test? If so, will it give us an idea of the pecking order?

    1. avl0 says:

      Yeah I think a lot of the teams have said they’ll only be adding all of the aero parts for melbourne in the last week of testing, so expect maybe half a second or so improvement from that.

      Plus none of the teams have run their power units above around 85-90% yet so i wouldnt be surprised to see merc/mc/fer/rb get into the low 1:35′s by the end of next week.

  2. Ed says:

    “When Vettel eventually emerged at around 1.45pm he began to make progress, eventually climbing to fifth on the timesheet before the RB10 slowed to a halt trackside with a mechanical issue”

    If it slowed to a halt, then why was it sat smouldering with badly flat spotted tyres at the end of lengthy skid marks after completing purple sectors?

    Sounds much more like Vettel was pushing it as hard as he dare, lunched the engine which pitched him into a spin

    1. NickH says:

      Yes that must be it. Keep telling yourself that

    2. Jon says:

      They weren’t purple (best overall) sector times, but just green (improvements on his own sector times) – i.e. he gradually went a little faster than his previous times.

      The RB10 has some serious problems. That said, they’ll likely have it sorted for Melbourne. Not sure about Renault being up on performance though. Expect a repeat of the “reliability” improvements that the frozen Renault V8 got, which magically improved performance …

    3. chris says:

      engine/ers fault the locked the rears?

    4. It was my impression too.

    5. Wiz says:

      Was a brake issue apparently, not a power unit problem, which explains the badly spotted front tyres. To be 5th fastest after only 14 laps seems quite positive to me. Come on Red Bull!

      1. Steven M says:

        Yeah, and I bet everybody else is running qual laps..smdh!

      2. Tim says:

        To be 5th fastest after only 14 laps seems quite positive to me….

        Honestly? I admire your optimism – judging from the expressions on the faces of RBR senior management, I don’t think they share your enthusiasm. Happy days :-)

    6. Dmitry says:

      According to some reports he had a brake problem, which caused a spin… and a slowdown.

    7. luqa says:

      Another source indicates the problem RB had the second time round was the same as the first time: Problem with the brakes. Now is that actually braking, or harvesting or a combination thereof.
      It seems the brakes got hot, parked, started to smoulder the body work. Track Marshals applied foam, which then had some unspecified effect causing the car to be parked a second time.
      Interesting times at Red Bull, but they still have roughly 4 weeks to get their act together..

      1. No – cars take to the track in Melbourne in just 3 weeks. It looks like it will be a race of attrition. I hope that doesn’t take away from the spectacle of racing as I have shelled out on 4 day passes for my good lady wife and myself.

    8. Sujith says:

      Break by wire issues. The system not working properly?

  3. Rayz says:

    An interesting day. Looking at the lap times, I’m slightly more optimistic now than I was this time yesterday. I didn’t expect teams to get into the 36′s until maybe the last day of the test when they try some quali style runs. That said, it should be noted that the 1.36.8 from Hulkenberg was set on soft tyres, a tyre that was not available during the 2013 Bahrain GP (I believe it was Hard and Medium compounds). I know the 2014 tyres are harder than last year so who knows really how far off 2013 pace these new cars really are.

    One thing is for sure, those that are jumping and smiling over this 1.36.8 time being quicker than Vettel’s fastest lap last year in the race are deluded. Vettel set that time on a decent amount of fuel, while being told by Rocky to slow down and manage the ultra fragile tyres of early 2013 races. The qualifying times of 2013 were 1m32′s and are a much more realistic target for when all is said and down at the end of this weeks test.

    If 2014 cars can break into the 1m35′s, I’ll be happier than I was about the raw pace of these 2014 V6 Turbo’s. But I’m not for a second forgetting that Bahrain is a low downforce track; long straights into slow corners. It’s the high downforce tracks such as Budapest where the lack of downforce on the 2014 cars is going to be exposed. Only time will tell how badly they will be exposed.

    1. adam says:

      What are you talking about? No one is deluded, a bit over the top don’t you think? We are all very aware its only testing, and the true benchmark to compare last years lap times will be when we reach the Bahrain gp a little later in the season.

    2. Anyone knows if Alonso and Lewis were on soft when setted their best times?

      1. Yago says:

        Only one on softs was Hulkemberg. Alonso was on hards. Hamilton I don’t know, but he did his time quite early in the morning, when the track was dirtier.

      2. Poyta says:

        Apparently only nico was so no

      3. Tim says:

        According to the BBC, Hulk was the only one to use the softs.

      4. Yago says:

        Well, know according to Andrew Benson, Alonso set his time on a 8 laps run on the medium, while Hamilton set the time on a 18 laps run on the hard.

    3. j says:

      What’s the opposite of “looking for a silver lining”?

      What ever it is Ray is straining every mental muscle to find it.

      1. Random 79 says:

        Lol

    4. Sujith says:

      There are no delusions. I am not even bothered about who beats whose time.

      I am just glad that the lap-times are still gonna improve and I am pointing at those people who were cribbing about times being compared to GP2 and saying “I told you so” :P

    5. avl0 says:

      I think come melbourne the cars will probably be around 2.5 seconds slower than last year, and that hopefully by the end of the year they’ll be roughly back on parity which is not bad for the first year of a new formula. That’s in qualifying anyway. It remains to be seen how efficient the engines are and so how much fuel saving they’re going to have to do in the race.

      1. Ben says:

        Magnusson just went 1.8 seconds off the best time McLaren did in qualifying at Bahrain last year so I reckon they’ll be close to a second off times from last year at Melbourne!

      2. My bet is 0,5 sec slower for Maccas.

      3. avl0 says:

        yeah but mclaren were slow last year, todays time is still 2.5seconds slower than pole time and on a compound one softer than was used last year (last years pole time was on mediums which are roughly equivalent to 2014 softs and magnussons time was on 2014 supersofts).

        Having said that i was pretty impressed to see them under the 1:35 mark already. I think we’ll probably see the new spec cars surpass the old ones in terms of qualifying speed by the end of the year

    6. skidjitsu says:

      What’s the point in comparing this year’s pace to 2013′s? The rules weren’t changed to make the cars faster and as large as a 4 or 5 second difference is, it’s not going to make much of a difference to your experience (whether you’re in the grandstands or watching from home).

    7. OffCourse says:

      Vettel set his fastest lap on lap 55, so I don’t think that he had a fair amount of fuel (of course this is countered by what I would assume was a reasonable amount of tyre wear).

      Also that lap time was on a fully rubbered in warm track so I think Hulk’s time in testing is very interesting.

    8. bosyber says:

      For me Hamiltons time, set on the first fast lap of an 18 lap stint on the hard tires, is what reassured me of the cars pace: still a second slower than last year, but 1st day on dusty track,decent bit of fuel in, and car quite possibly not yet going 100% mean that the 2013 107% quali time might be in it on last day of test.

    9. NickH says:

      Mag 1:34.9 on super softs today. Mclaren’s best time in quali last year 1:33.7

      Lots of different variables make a pure comparison difficult, but it does seem the cars will be faster than most thought.

  4. Jose Sanchez kowalsky says:

    James, what about the rumor that nasr may push bottas asíde, with a 10 million dollars sponsorship from banco de Brasil?

    1. James Allen says:

      Nasr may get an opportunity as 3rd driver, but I’d be very surprised if he pushed Bottas out, as the Finn is Toto Wolff’s protege and very much part of the plans

      1. DMyers says:

        Massa and Nasr would be a commentator’s nightmare. Like Brundle and Blundell all over again! I would love to see it.

      2. Random 79 says:

        Jonathan Legard would have been okay – he would have just called them both Messrs :)

    2. Rich B says:

      nasr push bottas aside? haven’t heard that one, somebody was having a laugh.

      1. Jose Sanchez kowalsky says:

        10 million dollars is not laughing matter, even in this absurd f1 nowadays.

    3. Nick says:

      More like lining him up to take Massa’s spot if he retires in the next few years and slotting him next to Bottas when he’s more experienced and is capable enough to be the Number One driver.

      If Massa is successful at Williams for the next few years, then who knows what will happen…but if he doesn’t deliver results in 2014 – 15, then he find himself on the outer…which would be an absolute shame.

  5. Tealeaf says:

    Oh dear Redbull…

    1. Gaz Boy says:

      Perhaps Adrian will give his old school mate Jeremy Clarkson a call. “Jezza, any chance I can bring this new car to the Top Gear technology centre so that you, James, Richard and all the crew can get the damm thing to work????”

    2. NickH says:

      I know. I honestly thought they would have got it slightly together now.. The fact they had to have another meeting mid session between Horner, Newey and the chief Renault guy suggests the ‘fixes’ may not appear to have worked

    3. radohc says:

      don’t write them off before they are mathematically out of contest :)
      say November? :)

    4. Sebee says:

      Tealeaf, let’s start a support group where we tell each other encouraging things about RBR, like…

      There is still plenty of time. Remember Brawn came in for last test, and was bullet fast.

      What if RB is delicate because it’s pushing the envolope so far?

      What if they are sandbagging early on only to issue a smack-down later on? Season is long and 2 years back Vettel won one of the first nine races only, then went on a tear.

      What are some other encouraging things we can tell each other?

      1. Timmay says:

        That his opponents at Ferrari & Mercedes are some of the biggest chokers the modern F1 has ever seen?

      2. Rockie says:

        This is so true!

      3. Joe B says:

        Money buys success?

      4. Toyota well and truly disproved that years ago. Money buys TV coverage and pretty colours and logos. It all depends who is spending, what they spend it on and how well the use what they have bought that influences the success they have. Provided you spend it on Bernie and use that purchased relationship to contribute towards Bernie’s ego and wealth then you will be successful. That has never sat well with the Japanese hence their lack of success as teams despite building damned fine engines.

      5. Tim says:

        I don’t know if this is the sort of thing you are looking for – but I thought the combination of the blue on the bodywork, and the white of the fire retardant foam contrasted in a very pleasing manner 8-)

      6. I think this might be a strategy developing. Get a reputation going for setting fire to car parts then you can have a small fire at the end of every race (conveniently after crossing the line in first). The car then gets smothered in fire retardent, gaining several kilos to make the weight limit. Neat outside-the-box thinking by Mr Newey.

      7. Rockie says:

        It;s not over until the fat lady sings!

    5. Sujith says:

      Still not writing them off.

      But still, one has to look back at how much little running they’ve done and will they have time to chase performance before Melbourne?

      The tight design of the car should be one of the prime reasons as to why they are having so much problems. I hope they sort out the issues for everyone’s sake. It’s gonna be a boring championship if they’re not in it.

      1. Bring back V12's !!! says:

        Boring for who? You and the other Red Bull fans?

        For everyone else its going to an awesome C’ship. That is if Red Bull stuff up, here’s hoping they do!!

        It’s been a long four years!!!

      2. Alexander Supertramp says:

        Amen!

      3. NickH says:

        Yes a tad odd to call it a ‘boring championship’ just because RB may not feature. I would suggest the battle shaping up between Merc Ferrari and Mclaren will be a lot less ‘boring’ than the past 4 years

      4. Sujith says:

        @NickH you are right! I would also want McLaren and Williams to join in on the fun as well. As much as there is too much hype about Kimi Vs Alonso battle is gonan be fascinating to see the new golden boy Magnussen Vs Button and Riciardo Vs Vettel. I am no REdbull Fan boy. You can read all my posts and you’ll understand!

        More the merrier… I just wanna see good racing between all the top teams!

      5. Sujith says:

        @ Bring back the v12!! I am not a Redbull Fan. Was never one. I agree, Redbull stuffing up is equally pleasing to me. It proves my point about them only winning with Tight Ass cars channeling exhaust gasses!! Ferrari and Merc is what MOTORsport is all about!!

        I am a Ferrari and Kimi Fan but also want every top driver to be in the fight than hoping for someone to screw up their season. So you can call me a Formula 1 fanboy I guess. I seriously don’t want Redbull to win again, but I would not mind if Mercedes won it instead of Ferrari. So I guess you can also call me a Manufacturer F1 team fan also :P

      6. KRB says:

        Was it a boring championship in 2009 when neither McLaren nor Ferrari were in it???

        “The big teams like Ferrari, BMW and McLaren are currently on the back foot, but they won’t stay there of course. I think that’s refreshing and healthy for Formula One. It creates more interest, seeing different teams and drivers at the front.” ~ Adrian Newey, Apr 21 2009

        We don’t even know yet if RBR will be pegged back this season! But even if they are, four years with the best car wasn’t good enough for ya?!?

  6. yellowbelly says:

    Wasn’t it Jules Bianchi testing for Marussia today?

    1. Rich B says:

      yes he was testing their canteen, the curry was almost as hot as vettels car :-)

      1. Gaz Boy says:

        “A chicken vindaloo please…….extra hot, just like that Red Bull-Renault….”
        “Are you sure Jules? That would melt your mouth……….”

      2. Gaz Boy says:

        Not to mention incinerate your stomach…..

  7. Paul says:

    Did I hear right that Hulkenberg’s fastest time today was faster than that of the first day of the second test last year?

    I can’t believe that to be true…?

    1. Ben says:

      Different track

    2. NickH says:

      The race last year

    3. Anil Parmar says:

      It’s very comparable to the race times set in Bahrain last year, yes. Remember, these engines are very quick and the engines they used last year were very old.

      Once they start developing the cars and the aero gets added on, they will be lightning fast.

    4. Rayz says:

      First off, they tested in Barcelona last year. And secondly, FP2 ahead of the Bahrain GP 2013, Raikkonen topped the times on a low 1m34.
      But the Hulk’s FP2 time was in the 1m36′s alright. I think that’s what you heard.

    5. Sujith says:

      Yep. I just hope the FIA does not slow them down even more next year. We have a solid base to build on.

  8. zombie says:

    Considering last year’s fastest lap was 1:36:961, looks like the turbo cars are right up there already.

    1. NickH says:

      And most of them didn’t run on the soft I believe? So a lot more to come, in lots of aspects. Aero, engines, etc

    2. Peter Scandlyn says:

      Great. The urban myth of 2014 cars being slow is put down already.

    3. crespo says:

      This is very much a power circuit, with lots of long straights preceded by slow corners. You will see the time disparity shoot up when we get to more aero-dependent circuits (tracks like Suzuka, for example).

    4. Sebee says:

      I thought 2013 was slow?

      I thought everyone was nagging that 2013 tires were slowing F1 down, even though pole laps were 1s or so faster than 2012? :-)

      1. Grant says:

        Drivers didn’t have to nurse their tyres much in quakifying.

      2. Sebee says:

        Race distance in 2013 was covered in same or less than in 2012 as well.

    5. Spyros says:

      Qualy was another 4-5 seconds off that last year.

      It’s early days yet.

    6. Steven M says:

      That time was set in the race, not qual…

  9. giorgio says:

    The top lap times are quite in close match to the last years’, that’s a good point..

  10. What is the purpose for the grill-work ahead of the Ferrari rear tires in the snapshot above?

    1. Multi 21 says:

      They are measuring the air pressure at various points to ensure their win tunnel predictions match the on-track actualities. They want to be sure that the air flow from the front of the car (wings & tyres etc.)is flowing exactly to where they want it at the rear.

      Wind tunnel correlation has been their biggest weakness in recent years.

      1. Thanks much – appreciate the detail of your explanation.

    2. heinzman (fan of: ALO) says:

      Aerodynamic flow sensor

    3. Random 79 says:

      Read on…

    4. Tim says:

      The gadget to which you refer is, I believe, a pressure meter (of sorts). The teams use it to measure air flow.

  11. Gaz Boy says:

    Oh dear, from Charging Bull to knackered old cow.
    Actually, that’s not a good analogy – at least old cows can still move………..
    Poor old Daniel. “What I have let myself in for?”
    Still, three more days for Adrian and co to get car to actually work properly………….

    1. Gaz Boy says:

      I forgot to add regards to Bull and Mr D Ricciardo: the song Daniel by Elton.
      “Daniel my brother you are older than me,
      Do you still feel the pain of the scars that won’t heal,
      Your eyes have died but you see more than I,
      God, it looks Daniel, must be the clouds in my eyes.”
      When Elton wrote “Daniel” all those years ago did he know something about Red Bull in 2014 that the rest of us didn’t?????

      1. manz says:

        quite lame….

      2. Pete says:

        Surely it was Elton’s great collaborator Bernie Taupin that wrote Daniel?

        No idea if that Bernie was into F1 though…

      3. Gaz Boy says:

        I feel sorry for Dan. Imagine last year in September he phoned his parents saying “Mum! Dad! I’ve just signed the Red Bull contract for 2014/2015! Can’t wait, I’m going to have a great opportunity to win races and challenge for a championship!”
        “Great news son! We’ll order several bottles of champers when you get that first win!”
        Imagine how Dan had to break the news to his mum and dad. “Er, things are not going well at the moment…….betting hold the champagne on ice…”
        I would love to see Dan’s beaming smile on the podium………however, that seems unlikely at this moment in time.
        Still, keep the faith and all that.

      4. iamvik says:

        Can’t hide your glee, can you?

      5. Gaz Boy says:

        See my response to Pete above. I hope Daniel hasn’t walked into a mess none of which is his own making, just like Sergio at Macca last year………….

    2. Random 79 says:

      And old cows still have the advantage of a blown exhaust.

      1. Gaz Boy says:

        Ha ha, love it Random! You’re on top form as always!
        Actually, on a serious note, perhaps methane from cows posterior could be liquefied and used in conjunction with petrol/hydrocarbon fuel used in F1 so grand prix racing would have hybrid fuel as well as hybrid engines? Just a small extra fuel tank to house the liquid petroleum gas would be required.
        Daft idea or plausible for F1? At least all that gas coming from a cows rear end could benefit motor sport.

      2. Random 79 says:

        Well Prince Charles has a car that can run on wine and cheese, so I guess anything’s possible…

    3. David in Sydney says:

      Looks like Webber finally got lucky with Red Bull… that is, bailing and avoiding all the suffering and having to help Seb get up to speed. :-)

      1. Clarks4WheelDrift says:

        Wonder if it’s Webber’s bad luck that was left behind at Red Bull, or, if he was still there would his car have just started smoking whenever he got within 5 feet of it.

        Perhaps he’s preparing with Porsche and in his motorhome he has a 1:18 scale Red Bull model full of voodoo pins ;)

      2. Darrin from Canada says:

        Hahahaha… my favorite comment today Clarks!

    4. Tim says:

      Just Daniel? Surely you have got some kind of ‘snappy’ nickname for him to amuse us all, eg Doctor (Dr – get it?) or perhaps Dricky. You know the sort of thing :-)

      1. Gaz Boy says:

        Desperate Dan could be appropriate………actually, I think I will use that!

  12. goferet says:

    Well, taking the driver’s account of proceedings it appears the first day of Bahrain has been an extension of the Jerez test as the teams have been working on reliability and not performance.

    And as Jerez, the Mercedes and Ferrari engines came out tops both scoring an A with the Renault scoring a B.

    Unfortunately Renault is still having some issues, hopefully these coming days in Bahrain can help the company solve all their glitches.

    But one thing is for sure, KERS/ERS has been the worst thing to happen to Renault for they have never really got on top of this technology.

    Now word in the paddock after today’s running is that Mercedes and Mclaren have the early advantage on the chasing pack with Ferrari’s ability coming into doubt because the team hasn’t done any long runs.

    Anyway, good to finally have all teams on the scene and also glad to have very few red flags as the rookies have got to grips with the sport faster than anticipated.

    P.s.

    The Bahrain floodlights look rather daunting more like electricity poles.

    1. Random 79 says:

      Is that an A for Awesome and a B for Bloody awful?

      Have to say that it’s clear that (at this stage) the smart money is on Merc and Ferrari.

      1. Gaz Boy says:

        Absolutely. Perhaps that Lewis and Nico Ros are looking very happy with the world at the moment.

    2. Timmay says:

      If only Mclaren had a half decent driver to match their car, alas Magnussen is an unproven talent. Fingers crossed for him

      1. Random 79 says:

        You’re right Timmay.

        What they really need is a former World Champion.

      2. Gaz Boy says:

        Who is in his mid 30s?

      3. Random 79 says:

        Yes Gaz you’re right, I believe he is :)

        One more clue like that and Timmay might start to suspect who I’m talking about ;)

      4. NickH says:

        Magnussen’s looking promising early doors, he did 1.34.9 today, albeit on super softs. Cars look like they are ramping up..

        I doubt Button is going to enjoy this young kid qualifying in front of him

      5. Gaz Boy says:

        Qualifying never been a strong point for Jenson even in his championship year, but it wasn’t Alain Prost’s strong point either during the turbo era and look how many races he won during his 80s heyday.

    3. Clarks4WheelDrift says:

      >The Bahrain floodlights look rather daunting more like electricity poles.

      They may be tesla coils, every ten laps the electricity zap a car, you know, because the sport needs jazzed up ‘n all that. ;)

      1. Random 79 says:

        Could work for F-E :)

      2. Actually – I think you have just solved their continuous electricity supply issue. Just set up a few hundred tesla coils lining the track and as the cars pass each one they get a few thousand volt injections to top up their batteries. No need for pit stops to change cars. Mind you – the marshalls will all need to wear chainmail suits – might be an issue if responding to a fire. But the continous lightning bolts would make it spectacular.

        With the lack of engine noise, the organisers could play music and try and sync up the lightning to the music – maybe even have guest DJs battling it out to produce the best music/lightning combo. And the fans could vote via twitter to give their favourite drivers extra bolts of lightning.

      3. Random 79 says:

        A few hundred giant Tesla coils shooting out electricity and your idea of appropriate apparel is chain-mail suits????

        I’m no scientist, but that sounds like a recipe for some lively race marshals :)

  13. Loving the look of the Lotus – proper bad boy! Interesting times. Can I ask what has happened to Whitmarsh now? Does he have any role at McLaren?

    1. Clarks4WheelDrift says:

      Potential for the Lotus front jackman to get trapped between the forks of Pastor’s car? Don’t fancy that job!

    2. Krischar says:

      Sadly i believe Martin W do not have any role inside Mclaren

      Maybe james can shed us more light on this topic ?

      Whitmarsh did a decent job with Mclaren and deserves his chance atleast for 2014. Unfortunately Ron does not want martin W anymore in his plans

      1. Did a decent job? By what measure? His tenure of the top job coincided with the worst performance of the team in their history.

      2. Gaz Boy says:

        Agree. Martin’s decision not to pension off the lamentable 2013 Macca after Malaysia last year – when Ronspeak told him to bring back the competitive 2012 Macca – was quite possibly the worst strategic decision since the Charge of the Light Brigade.

  14. sunny stivala says:

    The Hulk fastest time (top lap time) on soft tyres which no other driver used, was 2.4 seconds of the quickest lap from in the first practice season of last year, if the Hulk was doing a race which he wasn’t it would have been vastly slower.
    Both RBR and Renault are in dire-striates regardless of the spins both of them were constantly churning out.

  15. Richard says:

    Well Hulkenburg’s time was on the soft tyre so we can discount it, but I doubt anyone was really showing their hand. It would be interesting to know what Mercedes were doing in the afternoon because Hamilton racked up 70 odd laps pretty quickly so I expect they have done some changes this afternoon to begin looking for performance. – They look solid! Red Bull while fundamentally may have a quick car still have sizeable issues which they need to get on top quickly now as the first race is getting ever closer. – If they don’t then they are going to be in for some early retirements until they get sorted.

  16. NickH says:

    Red Bull are going to have to seriously open up the back of their car, I bet newey is a huge fan of all these batteries.

    1. Random 79 says:

      He’d be better of putting a huge fan on all these batteries.

      And by a huge fan I mean one of those things that spin around fast and make the air cool, not some fat bloke wearing an “I Love Vettel” t-shirt :)

      1. iamvik says:

        Technically, fans just blow air, not make it cooler :-)

      2. Random 79 says:

        Technically I’m sitting right next to a small fan right now and it’s a little bit cold.

        And by a small fan I mean one of those things that spins around fast and make the air cool, not some midget with an aloof attitude wearing an “I Love Vettel” t-shirt :)

      3. Gaz Boy says:

        Didn’t realise Montoya was a Vettel fan travelling to all the races?

  17. FerrariFan says:

    So can anyone say what was the difference between the red bull of Jerez and Bahrain? The only noticeable difference I found was the exhaust pipe protruding out more in Bahrain. Plus there was probably a slight increase in the heat escape opening around the exhaust.

    I wonder if the only workable solution for Renault engines will be the huge gaping opening of Caterham. If that’s the case how will it affect performance ?

  18. Arshad says:

    Hey James

    Could you confirm that if Ferrari has a system which stops engine sparking, are they obliged to share the same engine having same quality with sauber and murussia

  19. goferet says:

    Vettel: Obviously we’re not happy with where we are now
    —————————————————

    This could possibly be the first official sign that Red Bull won’t defend their titles in 2014.

    We have seen in previous race weekends that whenever Vettel wasn’t happy after Friday practice, those are the races he has struggled.

    1. NickH says:

      Quite some time ago since those words were uttered! They are definitely a way behind the likes of Merc, Mclaren and Ferrari.

  20. FerrariFan says:

    A note on Ferrari. Their front wing seems primitive in comparison to Mercedes or Mclaren. I hope they can develop the car’s aerodynamics better this season.

    1. Paulo Vilela says:

      Noticed that too. Very simple with less profiles than the others. I really hope they have some more elaborated aero package / front wing in the next days or test.

    2. Random 79 says:

      Who needs a front wing when you have a nose like that? ;)

    3. Timmay says:

      Why put an A spec wing on when you are only testing for reliability & internal systems?

      1. Clarks4WheelDrift says:

        I guess, to find out if if the wind tunnel figures work and to see if it’s as poor as the Ferrari A-spec wing from 2010, 11, 12, 13… ;)

      2. Paulo Vilela says:

        Because apparently the other teams are using very elaborated A spec wings.

  21. DMyers says:

    It’s odd that you haven’t mentioned Robin Frijns’s healthy number of laps in the Caterham-Renault…

  22. jmv says:

    I dont feel bad for Mark Webber at the moment :) :)

    1. Random 79 says:

      I do feel bad for Dan though. It would be nice (and insanely optimistic) if they could get this sorted before he jumps in the car again.

      1. Gaz Boy says:

        Jumping out of the Torro Rosso frying pan and into the Red Bull fire springs to mind.
        Literally the Red Bull fire……….

    2. Timmay says:

      Me neither, i just feel bad for all the cars he wasted from 2009-2013….

      1. Random 79 says:

        Particularly the one he wasted in 2010…

      2. Gaz Boy says:

        In all fairness, Mark did contribute to Bull winning four consecutive constructors titles; if you do well in the constructors title Mr E gives you a nice big juicy pay cheque at the end of the year so I think Adrian and Christian were probably sad to see Mark go.
        I know we all concentrate on the drivers championship, but if you do well in the constructors title you get a bigger salary for the next season so at least Mark helped to push up Red Bull employees salaries from 2009 onwards.

  23. Howard P says:

    The Caterham managed 68 laps though, so the Renault powertrain can last the distance

    1. deancassady says:

      This is a really significant point that lacks the media focus that it deserves.
      Why is Caterham racking up the laps?
      Why is Caterham able to rack up the miles on the Renault engine?
      That’s what I want to know.

      1. NickH says:

        Probably because their car is way less aggressive in terms of the packaging/cooling at the back of the car

    2. Grant says:

      Perhaps it’s not Renault that’s struggling, but RBR and Lotus.

  24. justafan says:

    Renault teams seem to be in the doldrums. Hülkenberg is a class act. Wonder why no top team signed him yet.

    1. Random 79 says:

      “Wonder why no top team signed him yet”

      I’ll refrain from answering that, lest I be modded ;)

      1. Gaz Boy says:

        Ha ha! Will agree with Justafan that Hulky can challenge for a world championship, when Jenson, Kimi and Fernando hang up their helmets Hulky, Desperate Dan and Vatty will be snapping up at Sebastian’s heels in the same way the aforementioned drivers snapped at Michael’s heels and displaced his world championship crown starting with Fernando in 2005.

  25. Methusalem says:

    What do Lewis Hamilton and The Vatican Pope have in common? Right, they both drive a Mercedes! Lewis Hamilton and Nicole Scherzinger meet the Pope, and this’s what Lewis wrote in his tweet: “Even he (The Pope) drives a Benz so you know Mercedes is the best!”

    I too think that Mercedes will be dominant this season.

    By the way, since when are Nicole and Lewis together? Do they have a contract for a pre-season union?

    1. Grant says:

      And when Nicole is around Lewis tends to be on fire

    2. Clarks4WheelDrift says:

      > ..Nicole and Lewis together? Do they have a > contract for a pre-season union?

      Perhaps, since Merc are hiring everyone under the sun, Nicole may be Exec. Director (morale and relationships)?

      Sorry, that’s a bit cheeky :(

  26. Ed says:

    Hi James,

    Hello from Dallas, Texas. With testing almost half way through, what is your general sense of the competitive order between Mercedes, Mclaren and Ferrari. From my untrained eye it appears that the mercedes and mclaren maybe about 1 to 1.5 seconds ahead of the Ferrari.

    1. James Allen says:

      Too early to say

      Next test will see performance runs

      This is still reliability running

      1. kenneth chapman says:

        an interesting comment from renault that as of tomorrow the renault teams can proceed to do as many laps as they want?

        it certainly sounds as though someone is telling porkies or else, A, they have solved the problems, or B, they have decided to bypass whatever it is that is holding them back until they have a permanent fix.

      2. Ed says:

        Thank for the response.

    2. VP of Common Sense says:

      Ed- The pecking order is not known but I find it hard to believe that Mercedes and McLaren are 1.5 seconds in front of Ferrari. Ferrari were faster than them both today. Does it mean anything? Not likely as none of the top teams are trying to go fast, they’re trying to get in as many laps as possible each day and test new components for reliability. Much more to come from everyone, including Red Bull.

    3. Gaz Boy says:

      RE ED: There was a grand prix at Dallas at the State Fair park, 30 years ago in fact. The FIA decided the best time to have a grand prix in the lone star state was in the middle of a Texan summer, so the grand prix weekend was held in 40C heat and 80% humidity. What bright spark thought that was a good idea?
      Thankfully, the Texan grand prix is now held in the rather more bearable November. This time the FIA did a climate check for Texas!

  27. f1dingo says:

    Are this years cars really going to be slower than lasts? Isn’t hulks lap quicker than last years fastest gp lap time?

  28. Phil W says:

    It’s not a disaster for Red Bull yet, you only need a good half season to win the title. I imagine there will be some crazy results in the opening races with nobody dominating.

    If they can fix the issue, there’s a good chance it will be the best aero package on the grid.

    Melbourne Qualifying Prediction

    1. Magnusson
    2. Hamilton
    3. Button

  29. slim says:

    James, if you can get them ?, the speed trap order would be better info than lap times, i think.
    Whats the top speed so far, and who by?

  30. Rich B says:

    so hulk is happy he didn’t go to lotus and pastor regrets leaving Williams and paying for the lotus seat everyone thought hulk deserved. very early days but it’ll be amusing if it ends up that way and a kind of justice

    1. Timmay says:

      Yup, lol @ Maldonation

  31. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    HULK 1 second ahead, it’s sweet musica for his fans…

    GO HULK, you will show it all, and it will be great!

  32. UncleZen says:

    If you haven’t already seen it, this is fantastic:

    http://www.mercedesamgf1.com/en/car/f1-w05-360-video/

    Drag the mouse to look 360 degrees

    1. Rambo says:

      This stuff is great but Merc are a little late to the party, RedBull have already done this nearly two years ago.

      http://www.redbull.com/en/motorsports/f1/stories/1331578699970/360-degrees-on-track

    2. Random 79 says:

      Different and very clever.

      Thanks for the link :)

    3. Yes, thanks for the link. That is pretty amazing stuff. Just think, if they develop the technology so that this video could be streamed live with every car having one of these setups and you could interactively switch between cars when you are watching the race. You know – I might even pay for that!

  33. SteveS says:

    “Renault’s woes continue”, would be a more accurate summation. Though at least Caterham did manage some decent lap time.

    So, will we see more than ten cars (not teams but cars) complete the first GP of the season? I’d guess not, based on what we’ve seen so far.

  34. Cedgy says:

    James whats that thing the back of Alonso’s Ferrari?

    1. GWD says:

      I would hazard a guess that it’s a sensor grid designed to correlate real life areo at the rear to CFD & windtunnel results

    2. Random 79 says:

      It’s a funky little device for measuring air flow.

  35. Chris Chong says:

    Of all the Renault-powered teams, you wouldn’t expect CATERHAM to be the only one to have gotten their stool together. Well done, lads!

  36. Mike84 says:

    Was expecting someone to have blown an engine by now.

    How many engines can they use for testing?

    1. heinzman (fan of: ALO) says:

      Thing of the past, each components is monitored so as soon as an anomaly develops, they ask the driver to switch off.

  37. OJ says:

    Poor Red Bull, I expect the might of Jenson Button and Mclaren-Mercedes combo to dominate this season ala Brawn 2009. Vettel fans, where are you? Ha ha ha

    1. NickH says:

      I expect Magnussen to beat Button

    2. manz says:

      Redbull is a faboulouse team with outstanding driver (vettel) ….but if maclaren-mercedes or mercedes team win cause REDBULLS were having troubles then i will be more than happy for such a temporary mouth watering form which depend entirely on redbull troubles ….troubles gone and mercedes drivers and ferrari drivers back to the pet sentence “redbull is quicker than us ” or “vettel will have to prove in other cars (so they can have vettel seat when he goes to other team” …and honetly its such a shame that u blame redbull for being fast instead of improving ones own team performance….no offence but guys dont u think that u hate redbull to extent tht u forget they won everything on pure merit and hardwork..they deserve it …and they will soon get their shit together and u will have to relax urself with sentence that they are aagain doing something illegal…tht will be only option khekhekehke
      cheers…love u all non redbull fans :D

    3. Random 79 says:

      They’re right behind you and holding pitchforks ;)

    4. Random 79 says:

      Both of them ;)

  38. ànt says:

    The cars are and will be slower, its useless trying to compare last years times, just try enjoy the unpredictable year ahead, I guarantee that the 2014 Me Mans Audi will be quicker around Silverstone this year in the same conditions than the F1 cars (and they look fantastic unlike these f1 Muppet lookalikes)…that cannot be right…

    1. Yago says:

      Exactly, that’s not right at all. And less so at Silverstone, with its big demands on downforce. Even a GP2 are faster than a Le Mans car at F1 tracks.

    2. Random 79 says:

      Muppet lookalikes?

      There’s only one Muppet lookalike and that’s the Caterham – and it still makes me shudder…

      Caterham: One good reason to remove the mirrors from your F1 car.

      1. Gaz Boy says:

        I know I’ve mentioned this before Random, but the Caterham is literally the boogey-man of F1 in that green colour.
        Makes you wonder: why was Britain allocated green as a national racing colour? Something to do with the green and pleasant land I guess. I think red, blue and white would have been more appropriate: England, Scotland, Wales and N Ireland all have one of those colours in their flags, so everyone would be happy.
        I mean, how many of Aston, Jag, Lotus, Range Rover Ginetta, Noble et al customer base order a green car? Not very many, that’s for sure.

      2. Random 79 says:

        They explained why the British ended up with green on an old episode of Top Gear, but don’t ask me to remember which episode it was :)

      3. Gaz Boy says:

        Still think green is a rubbish colour.
        I forgot to mention that when the Good Lord Hesketh and James H went racing in F1 they chose to paint their car white with blue and red stripes.
        Much more like it.
        Are you listening Caterham???

  39. brad says:

    Special agent button, please step into your custom made rocket ship, don’t go too fast your only supposed to blow the bloody doors off…19 weekends plus a bit of testing,(easy on the fuel) cruise to the end pick up the trophy, it’s got your name on it already. .. shades of 1998 and 2009 hi 5 for papa smurf!

    Mclaren HQ over and out!

    1. It would appear that the new materials used in F1 cars, when heated, produce an hallucinogenic vapour. People start seeing things and talking gibberish. Do you see those men in their nice white coats yet?

  40. goferet says:

    Ferrari missed a chance today to top the timesheets in honour of Enzo’s birthday.

    I think it would have been a nice touch if they had made it happen.

    1. Anne says:

      They are there to test. They can´t think about honouring anyone I´m afraid. Alonso was on mediums while Hulk was on soft. Hamilton on hard. So he was the impressive one.

      I´d really appreciate to have the kind tyres and not only the times.

      1. goferet says:

        @ Anne

        But can’t you still honour your boss whilst testing?

        Maybe the team should have bolted on softs on Alonso’s car for one mighty glory run.

  41. Gilles V says:

    That`a 4.5 seconds slower than 2013 qualifying. I tought they would be slower…

    1. Yago says:

      I think it’s very impressive!

    2. Alexander Supertramp says:

      you seriously believe they were even trying to get a decent lap? Button is right, by the end of 2014 you’ll see the cars going almost as fast as the 2013 ones.

  42. Franco says:

    I know feeling more hopeful that Red Bull won’t be turning up at Melbourne and being on pole by 2 seconds although to quote the amazing Murray Walker “Anything happens in Grand Prix racing and it usually does”

    1. Gaz Boy says:

      If Bull lock out the front row on a dry Saturday qualifying they can rename themselves Lazarus!

      1. Can I borrow your crystal ball please? What do you know about qualifying and why think it will be dry? It is Melbourne in autumn. Might be wet and blowing a gale for qualifying, although I am hoping you are right because, for the first time, I will be trackside for this one.

      2. Gaz Boy says:

        I did start the sentence with “if” – that pesky conjunction and noun that is often used in F1 – remember that old cliche about F1 is if spelt backwards?
        Having said that, you are right, lots of rain affected practice and qualifying sessions in Melbourne over the years (and a few wet races as well), my point if Melbourne is bone dry over the entire practice and qualifying and Bull lock out the front row they have obviously sorted out their problems.
        If is a big word in F1……..

  43. Phil D says:

    I am very surprised that Renault did not isolate their engine problems during dyno testing. This new engine system must have done thousands of hours of testing before it was dleivered to their customers.

    1. Random 79 says:

      …and tens of minutes testing after it was delivered to their customers…

  44. aveli says:

    yet again, all the prophecy of the cars being difficult to drive is all wrong. young magnussen, with no f1 experience, has so far driven the car faster than button.
    i hope the Renault powered cars and williams sort their cars out in time for the first race next month to keep the competition tight.

  45. Ace says:

    Few things from this test.

    1) seeing the laptimes, encouraging that the “slow car” bugbear has almost been put to bed (it has got to get faster….rubber on the track etc etc)
    2) Personal taste, but seeing the mercedes lapping around on bbc made me think “damn it sounds…cutting-edge awesome”. It’s not an ear shattering wail, but it’s nonetheless a very nice sound
    3) Magnussen is clearly enjoying this run of speed, reliability, and the fact that he’s technically a race rookie shoving it to quite a few “old hands” on the grid
    4) Red bull….oh the fall from grace. Now if the car can at least take the fight to the rest of the top teams…its up to him to show he’s worth the 4 titles he’s won without much of a challenge (apart from 2010…2012 he won 4 races on the trot without much of a fight). I don’t have anything against sebastian vettel winning 4 titles in a row. I just think the other teams should at least challenge him and red bull

  46. James A says:

    Is it possible to include speed trap numbers along with the laptimes James? No-one seems to publish them from tests. Would be interesting for comparison. I hope you can help

  47. kenneth chapman says:

    what is hard to understand is that after so long in gestation that these engines aren’t more reliable and secondly, what do all the mechanics/engineers do behind the screens all day?

    what exctly are they all doing? if, and i don’t really know, there are say 10 workers working for seven/eight hour at a stretch that is 70/80hrs put in….what are they all doing?

    someone must have some ideas about this…

  48. JohnBt says:

    Wow, Caterham did 68 laps, so Red Bull has issues.
    But then again they’re all still testing for reliability.
    Lap times will not be important until the next test before Melbourne.

    Lotus forked front looks the best so far.
    Overall it’s the nicest looking car next to Mercedes.

  49. Michael Spitale says:

    Mercedes powered cars look great so far. They also seem to be bullet proof for the most part. I am pleased with where Ferrari is in reliability, but we will soon see who has pace and I fear the Merc teams will start to run away and hide.

    1. Random 79 says:

      As will the Vettel fans :D

  50. Liam in Sydney says:

    James,
    I would love to see an addition to your testing times, rather than just the ‘headline’ times. Could you add to the table of times by including what tyre was used, whether it was a short run or long run, etc? That would give viewers some extra data to pour over! :)

  51. deancassady says:

    Why is it that Caterham able to do plenty of laps on the Renault engine?
    Hello!
    Isn’t that a little peculiar?
    What is the difference between the Caterham and all of the other Renault runners?

  52. Mark says:

    RB10 reminds me of the MP4/18… Only this time there is no option to revert to the RB9-specB

  53. Timmay says:

    Remember it is easier to make a fast car reliable, than a reliable car fast. I won’t write off Red Bull until Melbourne at the absolute earliest.

  54. sunny stivala says:

    There is no way that this year’s cars are going to be faster during a race than last year’s cars during last year’s races.
    It is not right to compare the Hulk’s time with that of last year’s race time, if the Hulk was doing a race his time would have been much slower.
    And if the Hulk was using the same tyres as the second and third best time cars his time would have been at least the third best.
    The number of laps done by the Renault in the Caterham was as a result of them strictly sticking to the recommended advise of Renault to use the power unit only up to 75% of its output.
    The main problem of Renault seems to be structural (crankshaft and MGU-K interface) which might need a timeframe of several races to have fixed.
    The RBR side of the problem is, this time they have no readymade model/car to fall on like mclaren had when Newey made that mclaren lemon.

  55. Lankyanky48 says:

    Here’s a top secret photo of the new RBR powerplant.

    Nice fins but no wonder they are having over heating problems!

    https://www.google.co.uk/?gws_rd=cr&ei=f_kFU52iJOS9ygOs64HwBQ#q=photo+of+zoon+ice+lolly

  56. Andre says:

    Funny to read people already writing the RB10/RBR off. :)

    Yes they haven’t had a smooth start to the testingprogram so they are playing catch-up, but nothing indicates that the RB10 is a bad car or that there is something fundamentally wrong with it (yet).

    But if there is any team on the grid that can play catch-up it is Red Bull.

    And people..testing laptimes….please.

    1. NickH says:

      They might have to make is slower though to make it reliable

  57. sunny stivala says:

    Only a fool will write-off a team and an engine manufacturer like RBR and Renault, but the fact is that RBR came out with a lemon and Renault with an incredible number of faults on their power unit, one of which might turn out to be structural, this when they have been on that projects for such a long time, when considering the level of the two of them it must be one of the biggest fall from grace of modern F1.

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