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Posted By: Matt Meadows  |  01 Mar 2014   |  4:40 pm GMT  |  268 comments

Felipe Massa reconfirmed Williams’ strong showing in testing by posting the fastest time on the penultimate day of Formula One pre-season testing in Bahrain today, ahead of Nico Rosberg and Kimi Raikkonen. The former Ferrari driver also logged 99 laps as elsewhere Red Bull Racing and Lotus once again struggled.

After completing over 230 laps around the Sakhir circuit across the opening two days this week, today saw the team demonstrate the FW36′s raw pace, Massa setting the fastest time seen in Bahrain this year, a 1:33.258, in the final minutes of the day on Pirelli’s supersoft tyre.

Massa had set the pace throughout the day, posting the fastest time in the morning session before lowering his benchmark this afternoon. His time of 1:34.450 looked to be good enough to seal top spot until Rosberg, also on supersofts, went quicker by a second to provisionally steal the bragging rights. Massa was not to be outdone, however, and the Brazilian immediately reclaimed the top spot by 0.2s.

Rosberg had missed much of the morning session after the replacement of some high-mileage components in the Mercedes power-unit led to an engine change, The swap didn’t harm the squad’s day, however, as they went on to complete 103 laps.

The same couldn’t be said for Red Bull and Lotus, the two Renault-powered teams enduring a torrid day that necessitated the closing of garage doors for long periods of time. Following a relatively satisfying day for Red Bull yesterday, the RB10, in the hands of Sebastian Vettel, today ground to a halt after just four corners.

After a lift back to the pit-lane and a 45-minute turnaround Vettel emerged from the garage with higher expectations, only for the car to stop before the end of the pit-lane. With work going on behind the scenes and Christian Horner onsite to oversee proceedings it was assumed that the World Champions would return to the circuit later in the afternoon, but with an hour of the day to run it was announced that they would not be making any further appearances.

Lotus did slightly better, Romain Grosjean managing 33 laps at the wheel of the E22 before a stop on track brought out the red flags. Thereafter, the team opted to cut its day short to focus on a crucial final day of testing tomorrow.

Kimi Raikkonen, had another strong day for Ferrari. The Finn spent the afternoon conducting a race simulation before a trio of shorter runs in the afternoon, with an eventual lap count of 87. Over at McLaren, Kevin Magnussen completed his first pre-season testing schedule in fourth place after another trouble-free day.

The issues surrounding Red Bull were not mirrored by its junior team, with Daniil Kvyat taking fifth place for Toro Rosso. The young Russian made use of the supersoft tyre to take the top spot early in the afternoon and racked up 81 laps in total.

Having topped the timesheets on the opening two days, Force India, this time with Nico Hulkenberg in control, focused on race simulations and went on to complete 115 laps. Hulkenberg finished in sixth place ahead of Marussia’s Jules Bianchi and Caterham’s Marcus Ericsson.

Interestingly, the Renault-powered Caterham recorded the highest number of laps today on 117, which again suggests that the problems affecting Lotus and Red are not solely down to Renault’s power unit.

Bahrain Test Two; Day Three Times
1. Felipe Massa Williams 1:33.258s 99 laps
2. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:33.484s +0.226s 103 laps
3. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:35.426s +2.168s 87 laps
4. Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1:35.894s +2.636s 88 laps
5. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:36.113s +2.855s 81 laps
6. Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:36.205s +2.947s 115 laps
7. Jules Bianchi Marussia 1:37.087s +3.829s 78 laps
8. Marcus Ericsson Caterham 1:38.083s +4.825s 117 laps
9. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:42.166s +8.908s 33 laps
10. Adrian Sutil Sauber No Time 1 lap
11. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing No Time 0 laps

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268 Comments
  1. Michael Spitale says:

    Will Ferrari allow Kimi some extra running tomorrow? If Alonso heads out for another 120+ lap run tomorrow he will finish with probably 200 plus laps over Kimi for the tests. They could easily split the day tomorrow as Alonso has already had some full race runs.

    1. rafa says:

      I would be well surprised if any such thing were to happen. ALO handing over the wheel gingerly is not what i expect

      1. Michael Spitale says:

        seems like every time the team needed work done on the car it was Kimi’s day to test. Can’t remember any days Alonso sat around the way Kimi has…

      2. dimitar kadrinski says:

        The funny think is, Kimi might have asked for this himself. Drivers tend not to enjoy testing that much, and knowing Kimi…. :)

      3. Marc Saunders says:

        Could it be that this behaviour shows that KIMI is pilot number two?

      4. Elie says:

        Yet yesterday Kimi was 1/2 sec faster per lap faster on his long runs which were also mire laps than Fernando.

        Further Im not at all surprised Kimi has done alot of the basic set up work and tested the changes on the new components first because he is far quicker to discern what works and what doesnt. I think Ferrari know they need Kimi in this area more as whatever they did in the past with Fernando & Felipe obviously failed

    2. deancassady says:

      Probability of this happening, based on historic trend: is next to zero.
      Probability of Kimi caring, based on observable historic trend: is next to nothing.
      We’ll see how it may have affected him in Melbourne, but my expectation is that it will not compromise his comparatives to Alonso.

    3. Rayz says:

      You can be sure that if Alonso was only on 330 laps approx and Raikkonen was the one on 456 laps with one day to go, Alonso would be kicking up a stink trying to get some extra running. Advantage Alonso straight off the bat therefore.

      Perhaps more worrying though was Raikkonen’s long run pace, 1m42s – 1m44s was his general pace… that’s about 2 to 3 seconds off Rosberg’s race simulation fro last week. Equally, Kimi’s last few runs were on the supersoft tyre; 1.35.428 is nowhere near where they need to be. It was clearly a low(ish) fuel run and it’s quickly becoming clear that the Ferrari is at least a 1.5 seconds away from the Mercedes and Williams. Some say it was a good day for Ferrari, I think it’s a good day for those who though Ferrari were their competition. Merc’s will be relieved. Ferrari have shown their hand and it’s not impressive.

      1. Tealeaf says:

        Yeah but words in the paddock are Ferrari are running their PU with a conservative map compared to MERC but who knows, the Merc’s are still favourites to lockout the front row in Melbourne.

    4. NickH says:

      Kimi will not care whatsoever, testing is just driving around for him

    5. Fireman says:

      It was considered but they opted not to.

  2. Laurence says:

    Massa’s time was over a second faster than last years quickest Q1 time and would have seen him into Q3 by over half a second.

    Granted he did todays time on the supersoft tyres which weren’t used in Bahrain qualifying last year but still quite impressive.

    And reliable as well. Still the only team not to cause a red flag for the whole of testing.

  3. Blackmamba says:

    RedBull may have to confiscate the Torro Rosso car. Tough times call for draconian measures, tsar style.

    1. Random 79 says:

      Ricciardo works for two or three years to get into the Red Bull only to find the Toro Rosso was better after all.

      Priceless :)

      1. Michael says:

        Good one Random 79. LMAO

      2. Gaz Boy says:

        Sometimes you should be careful what you wish for springs to mind…………..

    2. Craeas says:

      Thank you. few pintS down and this has made me laugh out loud in the pub. Embarrassed and f u all all at once. Cheers Craig

    3. Marc Saunders says:

      They could easily turn the RB into an STR, but they don´t want to lose any downforce.

      1. Random 79 says:

        I wonder: When an engine blows up does that produce up-force?

    4. pcoops says:

      It must be remembered that Red Bull were very much a midfield team until they started using the Renault Engine as requested by Newey, due to its size, shape and weight it enabled them to run the tight packaging and weight distribution that enabled their blown diffuser/rake angle to work so well. This is also the reason Vettel has had some negative feedback to his ability to overtake, the redbull was uncatchable in clear air, but more heavily damaged by following another car than some others. That advantage may well have now gone, and from tv images from practice it looks as though Newey is trying to keep the rake angle but perhaps it is this that is causing the packaging issues and he doesnt want to let go of the design…

      1. Michael says:

        This is what I’ve been waiting for. For Vettel to show us what he can do without a dominant car. It will be very interesting indeed.

  4. Andrew M says:

    Red Bull are clearly so tired of dominating that they are trying to win the 2014 Sandbagging Championship.

    Also, wouldn’t it be funny if the Red Bulls were routinely beaten by the Toro Rossos, like they used to be back in the days when Vettel was driving for the latter?

    1. Tealeaf says:

      The only way RBR would be beaten by STR this year is RB can’t finish a race, I see Williams can easily do the same lap Merc ddone last week that seemed to have frightened the life out of everyone and made them title favourites, expect Hamilton with super softs and max power and minimum fuel do a 1:32 lap tomorrow.

    2. Romeo says:

      We are so tired of inferior driver winning in a far superior car. I guess the rules proved to hard to bend by Newey. Let’ see how the kid behaves following other cars, I am not talking of Maldonado.

      The King is death. Long live the King(fisher?)

  5. goferet says:

    Chuffin marvelous battle between Williams and Mercedes today and as the times show, the top teams will be closer than anticipated.

    For certain, Williams are slowly and surely emerging as the surprise of the season for not only have they demonstrated they might be as quick as the top teams but also Jenson gave the team a nod of approval by saying they may have the best race pace.

    Anyway, it was a good day as the majority of the teams had a relatively trouble free day and so were able to log in a good number of laps.

    As for Lotus and Red Bull, yes it’s becoming clear that the problems faced by the two teams are mainly in-house headaches as both Torro Rosso and Caterham had productive day showing the Renault engine is up and running.

    Right, seeing as Mercedes, Force India and Williams are the only teams to have tried qualifying simulation runs, it would suggest that the majority of the teams don’t feel ready enough to tackle the new season so all is still to play for.

    1. luqa says:

      Good for Williams in having a competitive and reliable car out of the chute! But can they keep up the development race that will inevitably ensue through the year?

      As for RB today: Another source indicated the Renault power plant had a software issue (again)!

      It would seem the combination of a “cheap” Renault development program and an extreme Newey design that is being systematically optimized to real world conditions is behind the the team being behind. Still, I wouldn’t bet against them getting their act together fairly quickly. When the car works, it seems to have the pace, maybe not the power, but the required fuel frugality tone a real contender.

      1. goferet says:

        @ luqa

        Yes before the year got underway, I too wasn’t sure Williams could cope with the in season development but ever since the new sponsors were announced, maybe this will give them a fighting chance especially if the car turns out to be a good one.

    2. Gaz Boy says:

      I remember on The Simpsons an old gentleman singing a song “Old grey mare, she ain’t what she used to be……..”
      Perhaps the song should be: “Old Red Bull, she ain’t what she used to be, ain’t what she used to be, ain’t what she used to be………….”
      Not even one whole lap? What is going on at the fizzy drinks manufacturer eh?

      1. Rich C says:

        Referring to the Old Red Bull as “she” actually points to their problem, doesn’t it! Certain ‘parts’ appear to be missing now.

      2. macdog says:

        Yeah one major test and development part “webber”

      3. manz says:

        r u talking of same fizzy drink manufacutrer tht was cursed by rival car manufacturers team fans for taking both champioonship for 4 years?? :D :D

      4. goferet says:

        @ Gaz Boy

        Lol… I can totally see Homer singing that tune.

    3. deancassady says:

      Good one.

      I almost don’t want to get my hopes too high for a Williams revival.
      And of MAssa, perhaps finally emerging; if he could actually have the opportunity to win the championship, I think we all might see a brand new man!
      Go Filipe!
      That would rock.

      There is talk of sandbagging; if I were running Mercedes, I would have been sandbagging for the past test and a half, and I do believe they have been.

      1. goferet says:

        @ deancassady

        Totally, a Williams/Massa story would be quite popular for who doesn’t like a classic comeback story.

        As for Mercedes really not sure they have been sandbagging considering the fact Rosberg admitted that he had carried out a qualifying run at the first Bahrain test.

  6. Ross says:

    James.

    Let’s say you have two cars, Car one is quick out the box and car two is a not.

    Car 1 Turns up in Melbourne with no testing.
    Car 2 Has wracked up over 500 laps.

    How much difference does the mileage make if the car just is not quick like for example the McLaren was last year. I would still expect car 1 to beat car 2.

    It always used to amuse me that HRT would do no pre season testing and use P3 as a shake down in Melbourne and still be there or there about the pace of Caterham and Marussia by the time we got to Europe despite those teams participating fully in pre season testing.

    Admittedly Mercedes are in a different league to Caterham but surely if the Red Bull Car is fast then the mileage is not the be all and end all. Brawn turned up in 09 with only two days testing under their belt and blew the field away.

    Once they figure out how to get the car to run a full race distance I fully expect RBR to be right up at the front of the grid. It is clear Mercedes have an advantage but they way their problems are being discussed you would think they are going to be down their with Sauber and Torro Rosso.

    1. James Allen says:

      It’s down to the complexity of the vehicles. And the reasons why it hasn’t done mileage

      1. Chris G says:

        Agreed, Brawn didn’t turn up to the final test and then went on to win the championship with the rest of the field taking till middle of the year to catch up … but the difference here is that a) when they turned up their car worked b) the rule changes hadn’t caused machanical changes and they understood their car … neither of which red bull \ lotus can say, the reason Merc \ Williams understand their cars now …. is cus they have been doing laps

    2. I know says:

      In the case where Car 1 has not had any testing, the “prior” for its performance remains unchanged (and we can only speculate whether the lack of testing in itself should tell us something).

      However, in the case of Red Bull, Car 1 has been tested, and was shown to be unreliable, even without running at full power. We cannot ignore this extra information, which means that we are in a completely different scenario to the first one. While I don’t completely discount the possibility that Red Bull’s engineers can turn it around, the probability of their “Car 1″ outperforming Mercedes’ “Car 2″ in the early races seems quite remote.

    3. Grant H says:

      Your opinion is flawed this year due to the complexity of the cars, not just for reliability teams need to learn as much as they can about how to exploit the new power units and to learn how best to develop the cars. Take RB for example, its fair to say they have not yet run the car at max power therefore they no nothing about the aero performance / balance when at the limit and cant even think so much about upgrades

    4. Ahmad says:

      Yes, you have a point that mileage is not sufficient to guarantee performance. But having a completely new and highly complex power unit does require a certain level of mileage to make sure the engine efficiency and energy recovery will allow to complete the race distance as fast as possible on 100kg of fuel.

      The tyres have been made harder so will play a lesser role than last year.

      The aero alone will not suffice any more to guarantee performance, but it will help make a difference within the same power-unit group e.g. between Williams and McLaren.

      Finally, there is also the fact for the drivers to get used to more torque and brake-by-wire systems, so high mileage helps on the driver confidence side as well.

      In the current situation, it is quite clear that RBR will struggle to complete Australia, but it is also likely that cars in the other power-unit groups will get hit by reliability issues.

      Remember that Ferrari took the title fight to the end on two occasions in the last 4 years because of their reliability when other cars (RBR most of the time) had better performance.

  7. Sebee says:

    Now I’m convinced, RBR is toying with us. Thanks for the drama and the ingenious team motivating move. Everyone at RBR will work hard and not slack off this season with 4 in the bag.

    1. Kingszito says:

      If RBR is toying with us really, then they will continue toying with us until the first half of the season. Mate RBR is in serious trouble, admit it! They will fix it with time, but the urgent fix will be to compromise their car aerodynamics to the cooling demands of the Renault Engine which I see as the better option until they roll out their “B” spec around European races.

    2. grat says:

      [mod]
      Sandbagging is not showing your true pace. Red Bull has done this in previous years (along with every other team).

      But they always showed up and completed laps, and this year, it’s more important than ever that they get test mileage in.

      So if neither RB-10 makes it to the finish in Melbourne, are the Red Bull fans STILL going to claim the team is sandbagging?

      Because right now, I’d be more surprised if they made it to lap 58, than if they didn’t.

    3. KRB says:

      Your continued optimism is inspiring.

      Anything can still happen. The Merc’s could be way ahead, but fail to finish the race in Melbourne, while the Red Bull’s survive the distance and take points.

      Any team that’s struggling in Australia (and we don’t who that will include), will also have to make sure they complete 52 laps (and then cross again for their 53rd) before the winner completes the full 58.

      1. Chuck 32 says:

        Is there a rule provision requiring a fixed percentage of the race distance be completed in order to be classified?

      2. KRB says:

        Yes, 90% of the race distance.

        http://tinyurl.com/f1-classification

        Article 45.2 – Cars having covered less than 90% of the number of laps covered by the winner (rounded down to the nearest whole number of laps), will not be classified.

        The rounded down bit leads me to believe that cars will have to do at least 52 laps, of the total 58, to be classified. That’s assuming the race goes the full 58 laps. I thought before that 53 laps would be necessary.

    4. Richard says:

      Don’t see RBR scoring any points in the first race even if they complete it.

  8. Truth or Lies says:

    Wow, this is what happens when a giant like Williams is awoken. That’s starting to look like one seriously quick racing car.

    While some new fans may see Williams as a mid field team, who used to be successful back in the dark ages. Lets not forget this is the team that seriously dominated F1 year after year in 1980′ and 1990′s, being a front running force until the mid 2000′s. it’s also worth remembering they are the only non Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull, Enstone team to win a race in the past few years.

    I am not saying they will do a Brawn and for sure the works Mercedes will be very strong. But Williams could be regular winners this season. After all Ferrari spent 21 years in the wilderness before transforming into the non stop team of the 2000′s. Incidentally during those 21 years Williams did an awful lot of winning.

    Best of luck to Massa and Bottas, 2014 could turn out to be a very interesting year for Williams Grand Prix Engineering.

    1. Tealeaf says:

      Haha nice thoughts but Williams did this in 2009 pre season and they even started the season well and looked strong, but in the end it all eluded them and they won nothing, I fear its the same for them tis year, sure they’re reliable but so was Chilton and Marrusia last year they won nothing too, do you honestly think they’re actually going to beat Mclaren?

      1. Martin (England) says:

        Everything has changed though mate, they had a Toyota engine in 09 which was not as good as the Merc or Renault and being reliable last year has no bearing on this year, be reliable this year at the start and yopu will probably pick up points, as for beating Mclaren why not.

      2. Tealeaf says:

        Actually in 2009 the Renault engine wasn’t as good as Ferrari but anyway thats another story, why can’t Williams beat Mclaren? Well for starters Mclaren has better drivers as I believe Button is better than Massa, also the budget and facilities of Mclaren is greater than Williams, I can see Mclaren easily beating Williams just like in 2009 when the car development starts.

      3. Ahmad says:

        What makes you say that McLaren are better than Williams so far?

        I think all of the 4 Mercedes-powered teams could win races this year depending on car/driver/track combo.

        Personally, I think Mercedes are a bit ahead with a closely following pack.

        Hulkenberg is likely to bring Force India their first ever win after a close miss in Brazil 2012.

      4. KRB says:

        That was a close miss? He led the most laps (HUL 30, BUT 28, HAM 13), but he didn’t lead the last 24 laps, and was 4th or 6th from lap 57 on.

        Plus he was at direct fault for colliding with Hamilton, which put Hamilton out of the race and ruined his own race. It’s not like his engine blew up while he was leading or closing on the leader.

        I guess it’s all relative, but I have a hard time seeing that as a close miss.

    2. KramGP says:

      It is true how quickly we forget the prowess of Williams. They are a true race team. Not interested in making road cars. I for one would love to see them winning again. I wonder what the chances would be of seeing a dominant Williams car with Alonso joining Massa

      1. Nick says:

        Lets keep fingers crossed, would LOVE to see Williams back at the front.

      2. Chuck 32 says:

        Chances..? think Lotto win, No, not that high a possibility. Think comet hitting the Moon, in 2015. Could happen.

    3. Martin (England) says:

      It’s great just hope they keep it up all season, pleased for Sir Frank and a big hand go’s out to Claire and Pat, early days but a good start for the new Team Willy.

    4. Grant H says:

      I love the idea of a williams revival and maybe they may get a few podiums but id be surprised if they are a serious force, they dont have the development budget / personnel numbers as the bigger teams so unlikely to keep up development race

    5. Matt says:

      Mercedes have also won a race.

    6. David in Sydney says:

      Testing, testing, testing, testing, testing.

      It would be great to see the great Newey falter with his car designs and Williams out perform, if not equal, the might Mercedes Corporation.

      But it is only testing.

      That being said, there’s no sandbagging where reliability is concerned; Red Bull has some serious problems with its car.

    7. Nick says:

      It would be great to see Williams back up there. A little reminder of my 90′s childhood! Also I’m not sure the Ferrari similarity really works as they were only completely “in the wilderness” in 92. For the most part Ferrari were always a top 3 or 4 team and did contest the the ’97, ’98 and ’99 titles before dominating.

  9. Manos says:

    Hi James,

    What do you make of Williams’ performance? Have they produced a car which is fast out of the box? Any trach side obervations?

    BR,

    1. James Allen says:

      1. It’s got a Mercedes engine

      2. Williams didn’t have a blown diffuser that worked so with the removal of that for everyone, they closed up anyway

      1. Pete says:

        very low-fuel car runs? The Williams looks bare without sponsors, so why not try to make some headlines…Where’s Martini already?

      2. Martin (England) says:

        Wheres Martini ? March the 6th is the livery launch as James reported on this site a few days ago

      3. Richard says:

        Beyond that they seem to have a very good car, possibly the fastest both in terms of one lap and long run. They also look pretty reliable.

  10. Mocho_Pikuain says:

    I believe Williams and Merc times, but not Ferrari and McLaren ones.
    Jules Bianchi did 1:37, you just cant think they are 1.5 seconds behind Ferrari with the same engine, diference must be bigger, way bigger. Besides, yesterday Alonso scored a 1:35.6 with soft (not supersoft) tyres in a non qualifying run (it was around 6-7 laps if I remember correctly) so by taking the 0.7-0.8 sec difference between compounds and some tenths due to fuel load you have a low 1:34, and thats not taking into account possible set up changes.

    1. deancassady says:

      Yeah.
      After the first test, I thought the McLaren was the car to beat; could they be bagging the sand, big time? Maybe.
      Ferrari I see making slow, steady progress; it is unlikely that they are showing their full hand. They seem very workmanlike, working through their program, not giving up anything for glory runs (except the odd Alonso glory run: there’s more trouble in trying the prevent that, then allow them).

    2. Elie says:

      Kimis long runs were very good even half second faster than Fernando over many laps in 1.37/8 and they are not on the limits you can tell that by their gear changes. It will be very line ball come Melbourne because clearly Merc are closer to the limits.

      People seem to forget that Williams looked like very solid winter testers ( high mid pack ) then broke down i Melbourne and Bottas ended 13 or something. Whilst this probably wont be the case this year lets not start spraying the champagne just yet.but they do look solid so far.

      1. Anderis says:

        If you’re talking about last year, it was very apparent Williams were not competitive during testing. Their long runs were poor and only Caterham and Marussia were worse. And they ended up in the lower part of the time table in the day they had said they would be working on qualifying. As it turned out during a season- it was their true pace indeed.

  11. rafa says:

    I don’t feel too sorry for RBR but I do feel for VET. What I wanted him to get is an avarage car to see what he’s really made off, both technically and emotianally. A car that can barely make it out of the pits is not the kind of exam I think he deserves after all those years with a crusher of a car. Perhaps RBR will become better through the season and we’ll be able toasses whether he really is one of the greats or he owns much of his succsess to the car hes been driving.

    1. James Allen says:

      It is a long season…

      1. Andrew M says:

        With double points at the end…

    2. John in SD says:

      I think the question of Vettel’s greatness was answered in the affirmative a long time ago.

    3. Davexxx says:

      Yeah that’s a great point. A chance for Seb to show if he is really a good driver (like Schumi, Alonso) who can still do well in a troubled car – or not!

      1. Davexxx says:

        …and, regardless of rumours that have been denied by RBR, I do suspect we might start seeing more of an emotional Seb this year, losing his cool with frustrations! Should be a fun year!

      2. Jazzda says:

        “…A chance for Seb to show if he is really a good driver (like Schumi, Alonso) who can still do well in a troubled car – or not!”

        …or not!

      3. Voodoopunk says:

        …good luck if you can find when either of those 2 did well with a bad car…

      4. chris says:

        I tell you
        2013 first 5-6 races rbr was behind ferrari, but guess what…vettel was already on top of wdc standings, while god alonso with the best car was already number 2.

        he(vettel) doesn’t need to prove much more.

    4. Tealeaf says:

      I don’t know what you’re expecting him to do with this car, he’s done less laps the whole test than some cars do in a day, if its a midfield car then no one can win a race in it not even Alonso and the thing is we don’t know the fuel consumption of the different engines, I get the sense alot of the British media and Hamilton fan club are starting to gloat already, a tad premature, start doing that after about 5-6 races where the Merc have won all the races, right now doing all this will just come bac and bite you.

      1. Krischar says:

        @ Tealeaf

        “no one can win a race in it not even Alonso”

        You are way off the mark and diametrically wrong

        Alonso have won races in the ropey machinery time and time again. The examples and evidences are plenty. Vettel cannot be compared to the true legend like alonso at any ERA. Few races worth to recall are Fuji 2008, Silverstone 2011, Malaysia 2012 and Valencia 2012. Alonso have nothing left to prove in the F1 world. Whereas vettel need to prove 1 or 2 credence still to the world yet. Vettel has already reflected the sulkiness in Jerez test this season

        http://en.espnf1.com/f1/motorsport/story/147123.html

      2. Rockie says:

        When the history book of F1 are being looked at and Vettel is being revered Alonso would be a foot note in it!
        Its just the harsh truth what Vettel has achieved in the last 4yrs no one and I repeat no one has ever done in F1!
        9 straight wins is no joke!

      3. Sasidharan says:

        Kris,
        You forgot Singapore 2008 ;)

      4. Voodoopunk says:

        “Whereas vettel need to prove 1 or 2 credence still to the world yet.”

        As if…

      5. monsterFG says:

        Rockie are you serious??? How about Schumacher end of rant…

      6. chris says:

        @kris you gotta be kidding
        you can’t be serious

      7. deancassady says:

        It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Vettel won in Melbourne.
        It seems bad, but what do we know?
        I’m getting the feeling that the Red Bull – Renault strategic approach is with a much longer time horizon, than the other teams.
        Prediction #1:
        By the last race, the Red Bull will be as fast as anybody else.

      8. Alexander Supertramp says:

        Not saying Red Bull won’t catch up, history suggests they definitely will. But there is no evidence that the Red Bull-Renault strategy is directed towards the long term. The car is ridiculously unreliable and Vettel said they already sacrificed performance to try and get the car to run properly. The idea is that the Red Bull packaging is too agressive. Perhaps Red Bull will end up taking 1 step back to take 2 steps later, but it’s also possible that they will have to abandon the current path.. My gut tells me they will have to compromise and that they will be on the back foot, but they’ll recover. Question is, what will the damage be by that point?

      9. Alec Tronnick says:

        I think most would agree with your prediction, but the big issue is how much of a head-start will they give away at the start of the season?
        Lucky for Seb there’s double points at the last race!

      10. Elie says:

        I believe by Sept they will be the fastest car

      11. Dazzler says:

        I didn’t see anyone mention Hamilton and gloat on this thread so far. Funny how British media talk about British drivers. Oddly enough Marca in Spanish hail Alonso quite a lot and Le Figaro in France talk about Grosjean more than anyone else.

        I apologise for wanting Hamilton,Button, McLaren and Williams to prosper, and to have a competitive season where there is racing at the
        front and lead changes – regardless of which driver it is.

        This season is looking like it will be the kick
        up the backside F1 so badly needs.

      12. PM says:

        DIdn’t Vettel win in a Torro Rosso? That definitely wasn’t a top team….

    5. Dave Aston says:

      He’s already one of the greats.

      1. MISTER says:

        The cars he had for the past 3-4 years made him look that way. I found it hillarious that BBC “experts” found Vettel 2 years ago to be greater than Michael Schumacher.

        We already know he’s super quick in a good car, let’s see how he does in a situation like this.

      2. Rockie says:

        You can’t take his previous achievements from him, also when the BBC did that he had only 2 WDC’s and as of then people said they based it on ’11 because in the ’12 season he was 44pts behind Alonso!

      3. Tealeaf says:

        Well if the car doesn’t run then the car doesn’t run, also 150hp less than the opposition can’t be magically equalised by the right foot.

    6. KramGP says:

      Don’t be too quick to right off rbr. They have the money and the skill to turn it around quickly and reliability aside the car does look quick

    7. Random 79 says:

      He’s won four consecutive WDCs, and even if he had the fastest car he still needed the skill to drive it.

      You don’t have to like him, but give him his dues.

      1. manz says:

        so true

      2. KRB says:

        I think it’s safe to say that for Vettel, both his admirers and critics are wont to go wholly overboard.

        He’s not a driving god as some here would make him out to be; nor is he useless as others would suggest.

        He’s a top-notch elite driver.

      3. Random 79 says:

        Well said.

    8. Fastfastfast says:

      I have often been described as a Hamilton fan within my circle of friends and would want nothing more than for Vettel not to win his fifth title. I really want Lewis to win his 2nd WDC. But this business of saying that Vettel needs to be tested in an average car to prove his worth has to stop. He did it already, first, in Indy in 07 in his first race and then winning in 08 in Monza in a Toro Rosso. Then in winning his first title coming from being behind in the championship table in 2010. Vettel does not need to prove his detractors wrong nor how great he is. Vettel is one of the greatest drivers ever.

      Please back me up on this, James. You were there in both Indianapolis and in Monza and you even said that his win in a Toro Rosso was one most amazing feats you have ever witnessed. Surely, you and the rest in the paddocks sensed greatness in him the first time that you saw this kid raced. He is that good and when they get the Redbull to sing in harmony with that Renault engine he will be this year’s Alonso – he will put the car higher than where it actually belongs. Watch out.

      1. manz says:

        +1000 bro…..

      2. darren w says:

        Well said.

    9. LeeF1Nut says:

      Seb doesn’t need to win in an average / poor car it’s what he does with it that he will be judged on. Alonso’s reputation has soared due to his ability to outperform his cars ability. If Seb does that then people’s opinion of him will change. As far as I’m concerned the jury is still out whether he is a ‘true’ great. Ask me at the end of the season.

      1. Grant H says:

        I was going to comment but this totally sums it up +10000, totally agree

      2. Random 79 says:

        “Ask me at the end of the season”

        When you have definitive proof?

        You’ll never have definitive proof – in fact I think that even if the RBR starts off badly and he still ends up winning the title some will say he only won because Newey improved the car for him.

        And “it’s what he does with it that he will be judged on”

        How about winning four consecutive WDCs?

        I’m not a fan of Vettel and I’d like someone else to win this year, but come on!

    10. Michael says:

      Believe me I feel no sympathy for Vettel. It’s time for some other teams & drivers to get some recognition.

      1. Random 79 says:

        Then it’s time for some other teams & drivers to start doing a better job than the team & driver that has been doing the best job.

        Man, now I am starting to sound like a Vettel fan…help me quick, before it’s too late! :(

      2. Gaz Boy says:

        I’m sure you will come round when the Melbourne weekend gets underway.
        That’s assuming the Red Bull can get underway………….

    11. Rishi says:

      No doubt it’s been a very difficult pre-season testing season for Red Bull. I’ve also heard some logical arguments, written by Andrew Benson after speaking to other teams, that with the new drivetrains engine-car harmony and integration will be very important, rather than purely aerodynamics, and that this may hinder Red Bull, who tend to build the two separately (i.e. Renault provide the engine without huge integration work with Red Bull).

      At the same time, however, they’ve won the last eight championships, they have continuity (Mark Webber aside) and a very strong team. Their success means that, for me, they are arguably the only team all the others on the grid truly fear, though they will never admit it publicly. That’s because, if RBR get their act together, all the other teams know that even their best may not be good enough to beat them.

      This “reputational collateral”, built up over four painstaking years, will not last for ever though. What they probably need is for there to be no dominant team in the opening few rounds (in terms of either speed or reliability). That will give them until the European part of the season to get their house in order. If they can get to Barcelona, or even Austria, only 80-odd points off the lead you’d still fancy them striking fear into the heart of their rivals, with this being a long season with double-points. If the gap creeps up over 100 by the time they do so, it could be too much even for them.

      Personally, while ideally they’ll be no dominant force in Australia, if there is it might not be a bad thing so long as it’s not Red Bull. They’ve been absolutely brilliant, to be sure, but it would be nice to have a new order at the top of F1 now. Vettel hasn’t been beaten in a Grand Prix since July 28th, so another name on the top step of the podium would be welcome!

  12. Richard says:

    Well it’s starting to look as though Williams have the fastest car. As well as the quickest time over one lap, their long run pace is also the best, not to mention their reliability! – Good for them! If they can keep up the development, Massa may yet get another crack at the title, and would go along way to dissipate the disappointment of 2008 when Hamilton won the title. It is of course early days and anything can happen along the way, but given the car Massa knows how to win races.
    Red Bull clearly have not got on top of their reliability issues which will be one hell of a concern as they go to Melbourne – Forget performance finishing that race remains their highest priority.

    1. Tealeaf says:

      An awful shame they haven’t got a top driver driving for them, hey maybe Vettel can be transferred to Williams for the season and give the Grove squad a fighting chance at the title, yes wishful thinking from someone that wants a competitive season but hey it could be possible this time is the best Williams can manage whilst the likes of McLaren and Ferrari have reserves left, a lot to play for.

      1. Paige says:

        They haven’t got a top driver driving for them?

        I would put top dollar on Bottas achieving top results in this sport over the span of his career.

        It’s amazing to me how fans think there is this huge gap among the drivers in terms of talent. There isn’t. People are so amazed at someone like Alonso or Hamilton and say, “They would perform miracles in any car,” while totally overlooking someone like Bottas when he’s running in the midfield with a midfield car. This isn’t like the old days, when Senna could manhandle an extra .5-1 second out of the car or someone like Lauda could find a magic setup to get the most performance out of an average car. The drivers can’t really make much of a difference anymore to a car’s place in the competitive order simply because the cars are such complicated engineering creations today, and this basically limits improving performance to the purview of the engineers. The best that a top talent can do in a car that was as bad as the Williams last year is have a few magic days during the year, and Bottas had those. He was fighting for Q2 in a car that really wasn’t all that deserving of that for much of last year, and he beat a quick teammate over the season in his rookie year.

        There are maybe a few drivers with more experience who could have done more, but there is no reason why Bottas can’t be one of those drivers one day based on his performances last year.

      2. Elie says:

        I agree totally- Bottas may even beat Felipe lets just wait & see

      3. darren w says:

        I too am looking forward to seeing Bottas develop. He really did look the business last year. His battle with Massa this year will be fascinating.

        In fact, as much as the regulation changes are all the talk this year, the driving battles inside many of the teams will be a ton of fun.

        Raikkonen/Alonso, Hamilton/Rosberg, Button/Magnussen, Hulkenberg/Perez? Heck, even Vettel/Ricciardo will give us a glimpse about the young Aussie’s potential and be interesting viewing.

      4. Richard says:

        Elie: Yes I like the look of Bottas, but Massa has the experience, even coming within a hairs breadth of the title, and I think moving teams has been good for him, re-invigorated him with a good car.

    2. Gaz Boy says:

      Who knows? That’s the thing – nobody does!

    3. Gaz Boy says:

      I think its a bit presumptuous to say Frank and Claire have got THE fastest car going into Melbourne – but I would agree they are one of the fastest cars, so far.
      Assuming they have performance from the off, the main challenge will be to have a good development strategy throughout the Europe/Canada summer season so they don’t drop off the pace by the time the F1 circus heads across the European/North American continent.

  13. JimmiC says:

    Red Bull are taking sandbagging to a whole new level…

    1. manz says:

      so insecure of redbull lol …

    2. Random 79 says:

      To the point where now they’re actually pouring sand into the engine instead of fuel just for laughs :)

      1. Gaz Boy says:

        Plenty of sand out in the desert of Bahrain – how fortunate!

    3. KRB says:

      They’re just lulling their opponents into a false sense of security for the first half of the season. This cunning plan’s ingenuity is only overshadowed by its brilliance.

  14. Random 79 says:

    Good to see Massa on top – yes I know it’s only testing, but just the same :)

    Forgive me if this has been asked before, but does the five engine limit during the season include testing?

    1. Alexander Supertramp says:

      I can’t imagine that being the case really..

    2. Andrew Carter says:

      No, that would be stupid. It would me some teams having to do the season on 1 or 2 engines and no one would have more than 3.

      1. Andrew Carter says:

        *mean

      2. Random 79 says:

        Agreed, but then so is restricting the teams to five power units during the season to keep costs down after they’ve spent who knows how much on extra power units during testing, not to mention extra gearboxes and other components.

      3. Andrew Carter says:

        I think you fail to see the point of testing. The point is to find problems and fix them to make sure everything works well. New tech is going to break down, restricting the number of replacements guarantees that they’re never going to find all the problems and fix them.

        At some point you have to spend money, there’s no two ways around it, restricting the number of units allowed during the season,as well as the number of test sessions and cars that can be used prevents the spending from reaching crazy levels like it used to be pre-2009 with dedicated test teams flying all over the world every week.

        The cost of engines for testing would have been part of the contract and is unlikely to add much to the cost, given that the current high price is more about development than production.

      4. Random 79 says:

        No, testing is pretty self-explanatory, but ta for the explanation anyway :)

    3. Brent says:

      The season hasn’t started so neither has the engine count.

      Yea it feels good to see Massa and Williams running well. I would love to see them in the running this year.

      1. Random 79 says:

        Still a touch early to say for sure, but it looks like they could well be :)

    4. Gaz Boy says:

      No – I pretty sure its for grand prix weekends only. I think the teams are given dispensation for the testing as its lot of new technology to cram into cars.
      Oh Randon, I’ve left a post for you about the news Jonsey provides commentary on Channel 10 on the homologation debate forum. It’s great Alan is still involved in F1 is some capacity. I remember the 1995 Adelaide grand prix when he worked alongside Murray Walker; good old Jonsey had some pretty forceful opinions on the drivers!
      I wonder why Alan makes of these new turbo cars? He spent his glory days from 1979 to 1981 battling the turbo Renault’s (and in 1981 Ferrari turbo as well) but of course he did have the advantage of working for the disciplined Williams team with reliable Cosworth engines, where as the turbo teams………….wern’t reliable.
      Check out Jonsey vs Alain Prost at Germany 1981. Epic stuff!

      1. Gaz Boy says:

        PS On Felipe – perhaps a stable, disciplined and non-preferential environment they have at Frank and Claire’s will be conducive to his head being in a good place – so yes, Felipe Baby could a great season.
        And of course, he’s got his good mate Big Rob watching from afar, if not listening to him on the radio.
        They have a history at Williams of taking drivers who are seemingly out of sorts – Jonsey, Keke, Nelson, Our Nige, Ricardo and Damon to name a few and turning into winners, and with the exception of Mr Patrese world champions too.

      2. MikeP says:

        Gaz Boy….. Really all these references to “Big Rob”, “Frank”, “Claire” etc etc are really starting to get very very tiresome. If all these guys and girls are all great personal friends of yours, well thats great and we’re all very pleased for you. But if not, well you don’t want us to start looking on you as a delusional prat do you ?

      3. Gaz Boy says:

        PS Frank, Claire, Patrick, Nigel, Rob et al are their English names – what should I call them? Silly colonial names like Hank, Budd, Chuck, Todd, Brad and Rod?

      4. Random 79 says:

        Hank, Budd, Chuck, Todd, Brad and Rod are all American names.

        In Australia when talking about Frank for example it would simply be “that guy that runs the Williams team, you know the one…”

        Granted it’s not really a nick-name, but that’s just how we roll :)

      5. Gaz Boy says:

        Random, yes, you’re right – I was just being sarcastic/ironic which I think that previous writer failed to get – reminds of Top Gear Alabama (see the credits at the end of that show as well).
        Am I right in saying that Australia and New Zealand used to host the Formula 1 Tasman championship? It was a bit of a jamboree for F1 stars of the day such as Jim Clark, Jack Brabham, Graham Hill, Jochen Rindt, Denny Hulme, Jackie Stewart et al and had some good racing with huge crowds and a carnival atmosphere. I think the winner was presented with the Captain Cook Cup or something, but I stand to be corrected.
        Ah, the days when F1 was just a small batch of mates…………..long gone.

    5. KRB says:

      Nope, definitely not.

      Here’s a question for JA though, about the 100kg fuel limit. The volume of a 100kg of fuel will fluctuate based on temperature. So will the fuel flow sensors increase/decrease the allowed flow based on current temps?

      And is there a formula for what extra fuel the teams will be allowed to put in, so that they have the required litre of fuel for testing, plus fuel to do recon laps plus the formation lap?

  15. Chuck 32 says:

    How many cars will be racing in Melbourne? It appears many teams may view finishing Melbourne at any pace a viable decision.

    Does anyone think a racing tactic might develop were a leading team would use the supersofts in Q1 and raise the 107% bar high enough to exclude several cars?

    1. Andrew Carter says:

      If we take the Williams time as the fastest a current F1 car can do, then 107% would be about 1:39 in Bahrain. Every team has been able to do a 1:38 so far so I don’t think that’s remotely going to be a problem.

      1. deancassady says:

        I think you might want to re-validate your math on the 107.

      2. Stephen Craig says:

        93 ish seconds × 1.07 = 99 ish seconds. i.e. 1 min 39 sec.

      3. Rainer says:

        Why do you suggest for Andrew to ‘re-validate’ his maths? Fastest time in Bahrain so far 1:33-something min, i.e. about 93sec. 99sec would be up 6 sec, that’s roughly within 107%. I mean you can put the 10ths and 100ths into the calculator but that won’t change that Andrew is about right. Dean, perhaps you might wish to re-validate your posting?

      4. Chuck 32 says:

        Massa = 1:33.258, + 107% = 1:39.786
        93.258 X 1.07 = 99.78606 -60= 39.786

        I was looking at the reliability issue vs qualifying. Every team has had aborted runs and whole days were they didn’t have any running at speed. My thought was as a tactician, it does not matter how you beat your opponent to the finish line. Exploit a teams weakness in qualifying or beat them with pace in the race. I agree with Jenks below however, I suspect the rules will be flexible on this issue during the flyaway races.
        2014 may be a year were the natural character of F1 racing becomes more visible, i.e., no stone unturned, no opportunity missed, no advantage unexploited.

    2. Jenks says:

      I think that would only work if the “victims” had been lapping slowly in the practice sessions as well? Interesting thought though.

      I wonder if anyone is (with a high attrition rate in mind) planning to run the first race with a “slow and steady” approach?

      1. IJW says:

        With regards to your last point, a few I would suspect. Along with “slow and steady”, there may be a degree of praying as well. :-)

      2. Random 79 says:

        Possibly the plan for some teams might be slow and steady, but I guarantee you as soon as the lights go out so does slow and steady ;)

    3. Red Rider says:

      What a thought.

    4. Grant H says:

      I think the question is how many teams will finish in melbourne and the answer not a lot!!! We may even get qually dnf’s

    5. Random 79 says:

      Any cars they might be excluding aren’t going to be a threat to them anyway, so why would they care?

    6. Gaz Boy says:

      As its the first race of the season with new regs and new tech and all that, I suspect the Melbourne stewards may gave special dispensation to anyone outside 107% rule: a case its the first race of these new complicated rules so we’ll give the plodders the benefit of the doubt.

      1. Glennb says:

        Thats how I see it too.

  16. alexbookoo says:

    It would be hilarious for Ferrari if Massa wins races – they sacked Kimi because he was slower than Massa in a Ferrari in 2008, but then he looked strong in a Lotus so they sacked Massa and rehired Kimi. If Massa wins races in a Williams they can sack Kimi again and rehire Massa.

    1. Tealeaf says:

      Na time to hire Hamilton…

      1. deancassady says:

        Vettel-Kimi swap early season.

    2. Elie says:

      What Im waiting to see is Raikkonen, Massa then Alonso in that order. I will cry tears of joy

  17. Bodes well for the season ahead.
    Note last year’s race pole by Nico Rosberg was 1:32.330
    So the new cars (or at least one of them) are already faster over a single lap, it will indeed be interesting to see if they are also faster over a race.

    1. mtm says:

      The new cars still slower over a single lap by about a second, and that’s comparing a time set on the super soft compound compared to the medium used in the race last year.

      1. Grant H says:

        To be fair the compounds are bit harder this year so not that big a tyre gap and im sure teams dont show all the cards in testing……once they get it together and recover DF these cars will be faster this year in qually trim

      2. mtm says:

        True… maybe compare the softs to mediums in 3 races then (if the softs get a run). Should be a bit more telling.

      3. Sujith says:

        So what???

        Be happy that they are only one second slower. This means… they are going to be quicker as the season progresses. Lets talk next year.

        I am tired of people getting afraid of change! Formula 1 has a bright future!

      4. mtm says:

        I was replying to Richard who said the cars were quicker, which they are not yet. I’m not sure where you inferred the rest of the state of F1 and my opinions from.

        The new regs are quite pleasing to me actually, except for the amount being locked down at the start of this first season with the new engines turning it into a bit of a lottery for what teams will be locked into for the year.

    2. Tealeaf says:

      How do you work that out? Have we had a lap under a 1.32.3 at this test then? I can’t see it.

      1. I was suffering from wishful thinking!
        I miss-read Massa’s 1m33.258s as 1m32.258s.
        But it was an excellent time and, as I said it bodes very well for the year ahead.

      2. Richard says:

        You might not be too far of the mark! These cars have yet to go through the final iteration before they hit Melbourne so lightly to be faster still when they get to Bahrain qualifying. While these cars are slower around the bends, particularly medium/high speed, they are faster as they accelerate along the straights. Something to bare in mind for Bahrain qualifying in due course.

    3. Ben says:

      “Massa setting the fastest time seen in Bahrain this year, a 1:33.258″

      That’s nearly a second slower on SuperSoft tyres. Still it does bode well, apparently they are much faster on the straights which should make times around Monza greatly reduced.

    4. Andrew Carter says:

      No one has got into the 32′s yet this year but they’re certainly not much slower than last years cars and in Williams case probably faster.

    5. deancassady says:

      I expect the one lap for Bahrain 2014 to be within 0.5 of the pole in Bahrain 2013, but race pace will be very significantly lower!

      1. Alexander Supertramp says:

        I don’t know, cars are lapping around 6-8 seconds slower in race trim, wasn’t that the same last year? Granted, the fuel load is not as heavy anymore..

  18. Michael Grievson says:

    Is it just me or has Lewis not had much running time?

    1. Pat M says:

      No, it’s not just you Michael, Lewis hasn’t had much running time either ;)

    2. Alexander Supertramp says:

      Yeah, I think Nico has a lot more mileage behind his name..

  19. Anne says:

    Mercedes and Williams seem to be in a league of their own. Ferrari and McLaren I don´t know.They are still a bit of mystery to me.It doesn´t look like they are at the same level with Mercedes and Williams. All the others better do something rather quickly. The season is long but they seem to be too far away except maybe Force India.

    1. Andrew Carter says:

      McLaren were well into the 1:34′s last week, there’s no point in looking closely at all the times if only 2 teams are going for a qualy simulation. Besides, Button has already said that most of their updates wont be ready until Melbourne so it’s far too soon to work out so far.

    2. Richard says:

      It’s beginning to look Williams have the faster car, but it’a early days. I’m waiting to see Hamilton do a proper low fuel run to see if he can get below the 1.33 mark. Early days also I think if Red Bull can sort out their problems then the basic car will be reasonably quick, but time is running out for them.

      1. Rudy says:

        Let me express too much of a hoorraa is going on about Williams. The first 2 days the Force India was quickest and nobody said anything. Last week the McLaren and the Mercedes were at the top of the board. Suddenly, a week later the order changes? Come on!
        According to observers from Autosport at track side, the RB had a good handling through corners. The McLaren, Merc and Force I dia were also handling well. The Ferrari was wobbling and understeering according to reports.
        Come Melbourne, what we will probably see is some engines set up to last the distance but short on performance. I suspect, mainly, in the Renault camp.
        Don’t be fooled, RB will get to the top spots shortly. Aerodynamically they have maybe the best car.
        But I agree, it’s gonna be an intense season!

      2. Grant H says:

        I think RB probably have clean looking car in terms of aero, but for every week they are fixing problems they are not learning nor are they pushing the car to its limit, at the moment they are not in a position to develop the car, usually in F1 if you get a couple of months behind its pretty hard to catch up

      3. Richard says:

        Yes many cars and drivers have hit the headlins to be expected, but you need to pay more attention to the actual times. – I re-iterate they have displayed fastest time over one lap, have the best long run pace, and the cars reliable so at the test they are on top. However doesn’t necessarily mean they will be on top come Melbourne because all the cars, particularly the big boys will have updated their cars yet again. As for Red Bull they need to concentrate on finishing a race.

      4. Alexander Supertramp says:

        I don’t think those low fuel runs are that important at this point.. The biggest gain to be made is with good race pace/ efficient use of the engine.

      5. Richard says:

        Look at their the long run pace and reliablility!

      6. Alexander Supertramp says:

        I’d love to get some long run numbers! Do you have any?

  20. Kidza says:

    Great commentary as usual James.

    In my view Rosberg being slower today on the super-soft than his fastest time from last week on the soft tyre suggests the Merc may have been running higher fuel today in comparison to last week and also to the Williams.

    Let’s see what Lewis does tomorrow, but my money is on Merc for pole in Oz!

    1. Martin (England) says:

      It was the track conditions that slowed the cars down, lots of wind and sand, Rosberg and Massa both mentioned this in tweets or interviews, Pity Williams didnt do a SS low fuel run last week with the more favourable conditions, we may have seen a 1.32.

  21. Peter says:

    I support the new F1 technology, but it will kill real racing and hide driver performance at least this year thanks to the huge differences among teams and cars.

    1. Grant H says:

      I think it wont be too different there will tenths difference when it comes down to it, okay we may have mercs at front then ferraris then renaults but relative pace wont be massively different

    2. Random 79 says:

      Depends how you define real racing and driver performance.

      If you mean a driver who has his brain located in his right foot pushing 100% for 100% of the race in a car that is virtually stuck to the track no matter what the driver does while being unable to pass the car in front, then maybe.

      But if you mean a driver actually having to use his noggin to get the best from a car that will spin it’s wheels and slide sideways if he’s too hot on the throttle out of corners while racing wheel to wheel with other drivers, trying to psych them out so that they’re the one who make the mistake so that he can get the overtake done, then get ready :)

      But I suspect you mean the former…

  22. John in SD says:

    It’s good to see Williams looking promising with an apparently decent car and two capable and likable drivers. All the best to them. I wonder if Ferrari and McLaren are hiding some of their potential.

  23. Jenks says:

    Starting to think a spare car for each team might be a good idea.

    Also, with how complicated (apparently) the new engine/power packages are to change, you wouldn’t want an engine failure during final practice for a race.

    How many engine changes are each team allowed?

    1. Grant H says:

      I think its 5 per season in my mind that rule aint gonna work based on what weve seen

      1. j says:

        The end of the season is going to be very interesting with multiple front running cars stuck back in the midfield with 10 place grid penalties for going past 5 power units.

        Or even better, midfield teams stuck at the back but equipped with an extra set of option tires from running in Q2.

        Should be fun to watch those cars with penalties climb through the pack in the later races. Unless they all have penalties that cancel each other out.

    2. Random 79 says:

      I asked the basically same question: For the actual season they’re limited five power units, but apparently for testing it’s a free for all…except I very much doubt they’re free ;)

      1. IJW says:

        They should be free when it comes to the Renaults! :-)

      2. Random 79 says:

        Yes IJW I tend to agree :)

  24. MistressofSpeed says:

    At last: your final paragraph illustrates the fact that “the problems affecting Lotus and Red are not solely down to Renault’s power unit.”

    Caterham, since day three at Jerez have managed: 10, 54, 68, 66, 98, 21, 19, 55 and finally 117 laps. That’s over 500 in total.

    Torro Rossi have completed: 15, 0, 30, 9, ?, 58, 57, 19, 61, 81, 81 which means they have completed over 400 laps in their first Renault powered F1 car!

    Ok. The total represents a needle in a substantial haystack in comparison to the total mileage completed by the other power unit manufacturers… But, they’ve managed to do something right.

    Moreover, I realise we want and expect more from the top teams as well as those chomping at the bit but we shouldn’t dismiss the fact that RBR utilised their 2013 resources to win the double and Lotus needed to capitalise on their 2013 form in order to entice much needed finance just to survive.

    So, the power units may not sound as loud and guttural as the V8, but the change, I hope will propel Williams back to where they belong.

    Uhhhmmmm, just imagine a Hamilton / Massa showdown in Abu Dhabi at the end of the season, not that I’m dismissing Rosberg or Bottas nor for that matter the ultimate – Ferrari / Mercedes. I just hope the dreaded double points doesn’t inflict gut-wrenching pain that will leaves fans throughout the world foaming at the mouth.

    1. Grant H says:

      It is curious that the two slower renault teams are getting some laps in, I am wondering if its to do with packaging / aero. Its feasible to think that lotus and RB who are stronger / more dominant in aero design would want to tightly package the rear / reduce cooling vents etc to reduce drag, whereas the slower renault teams who dont understand the aero performance as well could be to my mind more likely to directly follow renaults requests on cooling,. I read newey was lamenting renaults target for cooling vs other teams merc and ferrari. Maybe the renault engine runs hotter than the others.

      1. Alexander Supertramp says:

        I also believe Red Bull’s packaging could be their biggest problem.

    2. deancassady says:

      How about Massa v Alonso v Kimi; ahh… the loaded showdown!

      1. Elie says:

        Cant wait for Kimi to beat the pair of them In the same or the case if Williams stronger machinery- that would make my 2014

  25. Paul says:

    Did Redbull take the term “sandbagging” a bit too literally and pour a bag of sand in the engine?

    1. Gaz Boy says:

      Ha ha! At least out in the Bahrain desert plenty of sand for them to bag up!

    2. Michael says:

      LOL!

  26. Davexxx says:

    Christian Horner has denied wanting Bernie’s job, although he’s again been tipped for the post recently. This MIGHT be a good time for him to reconsider, then, given RBR’s current woes!

    1. F1_fans_from india says:

      but then isn’t this the time that they need him the most ? if he has true leadership it will come out this year in pulling the back from where they are right now , if he leaves now and does not take the responsibility then what ?

    2. Gaz Boy says:

      “Bernie? This is Christian here. Listen, if you have to eat porridge in Germany soon, I might be interested in that post you offered………”

    3. James Clayton says:

      “yea no”

  27. KramGP says:

    Even with all the changes to the cars this year there is one constant. The team first out of the box will win the championship. If red bull don’t perform in the first few fly away races it won’t be long before they start talking about next year. Just as macclarren did last year. If the double points do nothing else they should at least make the teams compete until the end of the season.

    1. Kirk says:

      Actually they should focus no matter what on this year basically because the 2015 car won’t be too much different to this year car.

      1. Alexander Supertramp says:

        Are the rules for 2015 written down? Otherwise there is always the possibility of a certain team stealing a march on the other teams who keep developing a car that won’t meet the requirements of the next season. Sure, the 2015 car will be “family” of the 2014 ones, but look at the different design rules between 2009-2012..

  28. jay harte says:

    james,
    whats the pecking order in your honest opinion ?

    1. grat says:

      I’m going to predict some cars are fast, some are slow. Most will have unreliability issues.

  29. mem says:

    Hi James, Wouldn’t it be great if Williams had a Brawn style early dominance and held on to win the title with massa. There wouldn’t be a dry eye in the house.

    1. Random 79 says:

      “There wouldn’t be a dry eye in the house”

      And that goes double for Alonso ;)

    2. Anne says:

      Keep in mind that the last race is awarding double points. If Williams slows down in the second part of the season they will be playing with fire. They shouldn´t speculate.

      1. KRB says:

        I fear all that double-pts race in Abu Dhabi will achieve is a permanent asterisk in every all-time F1 points stats table out there.

      2. Random 79 says:

        A double asterisk :)

  30. Justin says:

    James, what happened to Sauber today?

    1. Random 79 says:

      They had to change engines, which took longer than they thought it would.

  31. andy says:

    Williams seem to make a habit of this in recent years,lets hope the legend is real this time

    1. Martin (England) says:

      They havn’t made a habit of this in recent years, they were always round about 2 seconds off the pace throughout testing last year, 2012 they had a pretty good car which won one race and should have had more podiums, 2011 they had a bit of a dog for a car and I think if memory serves me well Rubens finished top once during testing and it was a wettish day again if memory serves, also you cant compare this year to other years these rule changes are the biggest I can remember seeing in F1 and I’ve been watching since about 1980 and Williams themselves have had major changes at all levels of their organization, it’s real they are looking almost like a completely different team.

  32. D Vega says:

    Things look like Massa and Hamilton will continue to clash…to our delight.

    1. Gaz Boy says:

      “Felipe’s taken my bloody front wing off!”
      “Lewis has hit the side of me………..again!”

  33. Peter says:

    It’s been quite a few seasons since we’ve had to think about reliabilty. So long in fact that it’s struck me how used I’ve got to seeing just the odd retirement. This year it’s looking very different, I think consistent points finishes with perhaps the occasional win, is going to be the key to winning the title. Sandbagging jokes aside as of now Red Bull look unlikely to make it through qualifying, let alone the race and I’m most intrigued how Caterham can do so much better with the same engine.

  34. Sideways man says:

    Williams for the championship!
    Any team that,after one of the most dramatic rules changes,in testing spends a morning doing practice pit stops,must be very confident in their car.
    I just hope they can keep up development throughout the season.

  35. Red Rider says:

    It is only testing … but it doesn’t stop us from talking.

    Lewis made leaving McLaren look good last year.

    Kimi must be happy leaving Lotus behind. He gets paid and the Red car works.

    Massa must be be feeling better than he has in years. He must be dreaming of being ahead of both Red cars.

    The Hulk might be pretty happy being with the Force.
    Perez has also landed in what seems like a fairly nice nest.

    Then again, can any team be sand bagging? It’s hard to believe. Anyway, the gloves come off in Oz.

    Thanks James. It’s lots of fun exchanging with other fans.

    1. James Allen says:

      That is what it’s about!

    2. IJW says:

      I wonder how Pastor’s feeling? :-)

    3. jmv says:

      And think of JE Vergne! How lucky he must be feeling right now!

      1. Rockie says:

        How lucky? Really!
        So its better for him at TR than RB?

    4. MISTER says:

      Will Riccardo have the same fate as Perez?

    5. Glennb says:

      Webber’s decision is looking pretty good about now too.

  36. Tyemz says:

    Lotus tweeting the lighter (or cheekier) side of things as usual.
    ”We ‘ve stopped running. We are investigating. Looks like an early bath for @RGrosjean, maybe to join #Vettel in the pool…

    1. Gaz Boy says:

      Got to keep the sense of humour going!

  37. Miguel says:

    Hi I really think F1 is in a mess, what happen if in Merlbourn nobody arrives to the finish line? everybody will laugh at FIA and the new regulations, seen reality it is a possibility!

    1. James Clayton says:

      If you honestly think that not a single car will cross the finish line then you are deluded.

  38. Grant H says:

    James, am i right in thinking its 5 engines per season, does that apply to practice as well? If so is it possible to think in the first few gp’s teams may want to do as little running as possible to find a balance etc due to the risk of failure resulting from high mileage. From what ive seen no one is solid yet!

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes it includes practice

      1. Which parts of the engine are replaceable without it being considered a “new engine”? For example, is the turbo an ancillary or part of the engine? How about the ERS components?

        Seems to me that the “engine” should be the block and heads only with everything else being replaceable. Of course, if a turbo fails mechanically the chances are the engine internals will be destroyed as well but a more subtle failure might be repairable if they are allowed to replace the turbo unit.

        This is going to be a very interesting season – looking forward to it! Thanks.

      2. James Allen says:

        The whole power unit is now considered, including turbo, energy storage system, battery and motors.

      3. Nick says:

        Maybe a lot of grid penalties towards the end of the season. Although on the bright side if it gets too bad at least the revised grid will end up the same as the provisional one!

  39. Jon Clucas says:

    2 things i’m looking forward to

    Williams at the sharp end of the grid

    If the RBR really is rubbish, the way Seb handles himself

    Its gonna be brill :)

  40. Leal says:

    Vettel will have a team mate this year, so people that want a benchmark, will have.. believe me, with these totally different cars, SV should not have such advantage against DR, and should at least give us some idea of his speed…
    At least for me, DR is fast but should not provide any trouble for the “four times” WDC (as I think DR is not in the premier league). If he does, all is answered…

  41. Aelfwald says:

    Really hope Williams aren’t running light to impress Martini and other potential sponsors.

    1. j says:

      I think that the cars are so close to the weight limit now that “running light” is a bit of a myth. They can do a quali simulation with low fuel but there isn’t much ballast they can take out of the cars if they wanted to.

  42. SteveS says:

    “the Renault-powered Caterham recorded the highest number of laps today on 117, which again suggests that the problems affecting Lotus and Red are not solely down to Renault’s power unit.”

    Except that the Renault powered Caterham is consistently by FAR the slowest car on track. Today they were nearly five seconds off the pace! So it appears that Renault powered teams can either be semi-reliable, but at the cost of what seems to be well over a hundred horse power, or they can generate competitive power – but at the cost of any semblance of reliability.

    Given Caterhams showing thus far there’s no way they’ll pass the 107% rule in Australia.

  43. George G. says:

    And the Oscar for best sandbagging performance goes to……..Red Bull!!!!!!!!
    Vettel on pole in Melbourne.
    I hope I am proved wrong.

  44. Michael says:

    Forza Ferrari in Oz!

  45. Mitch says:

    Sporting odds have followed the form from testing… Vet is $9 and Ric is $26 for the Aus gp…if RBR are sandbagging then they’re doing a good job.

    Ham is fave, though I think it’s a real lucky dip..

  46. TGS says:

    Is it true that Red Bull are going to use their two in season testing sessions before Melbourne?

  47. jay dee says:

    Will Vettel be jumping ship if RBR have a bad year?

  48. Matt says:

    James, have RBR even updated their launch spec aero kit?

    That would tell us just how much reliability is an issue for them, especially since we’ve seen Sauber and Ferrari testing different diffusers etc.

  49. gazz says:

    I know I should not get too excited by testing, but this is very encouraging. I support JB first and foremost but Williams and Damon is where I found my interest in F1. I have always had a soft spot for Williams and I hope this is them coming up the running order.

  50. Alex says:

    Is it worth pointing out that Rosberg set his 33.2 last week on soft tyres, whereas Massa’s was set on supersofts?

  51. F1 Bobby says:

    “Haw haw!” at headline.

  52. kenneth chapman says:

    just how confusing this all is? some days ago i posted a thought that the renault cars can compete but at a cost. the cost being a competetive speed.

    listening to rene taffin’s interview he, more or less, confirmed this thought when he said the teams could drive without any problems and rack up serious laps.

    now whether i am not joining up the dots or this is an actuality which does not augur well for the early part of the season. it looks as though ricciardo had an unusual run insofar as the relative components spoke to each other in the same language. something that has yet to become a regulr feature.

    the big question is, can RBR get on top of this. i think that they can but it will be at a serious cost to their ambitions for 2014.

  53. Don says:

    Having owned a few Renault cars in my time, I suggest Red Bull replace the Cam-shaft sensors & the coils….. they’re always the first things to give trouble in Renault engines. :D

    I wonder will Vettel be starting to have temper-tantrums again. :D

  54. Elie says:

    James somethings definitely not as it seems with Red Bull- how can they one day do 90 odd laps with Ricciardo and then set the 3rd best time then not set a single lap a day later. It would seen they are trialling a few very significant configurations. They obviously “banked” a solid set up on day 3 then tried something diff.

    Come Melbourne we are going to see a very different pecking order me thinks.

  55. Sujith says:

    Is the Redbull RB10 an MP4-18 of the 2014 season? Is it one of Adrian Newey’s trash cars?

  56. Sujith says:

    What an ironic turn of events after Sebastian Vettel claimed everyone else is hanging their balls in the pool while he’s working hard!

    And today, Mercedes did a full Engine change and still managed more than 100 laps with Nico

    After today’s showing, I wonder can he say that again about Nico Rosberg?

  57. build says:

    James,
    What do the cars sound like in the pit lane?
    Thanks.

  58. Sujith says:

    Nico Rosberg is looking good. Rosberg Vs Hamilton fight is gonnab e awesome to follow too.

    Considering both drivers are treated equal I see Nico having the upper hand over Lewis. Nico like many other great drivers does his talking on the track only.

  59. veeru says:

    Williams showing good pace at the pre-season testing. Again.

    I really hope they can maintain the dev race and be competitive all year.

    A strong williams really makes me happy. I am a ferrari fan, but i really like williams. They are a true Formula 1 team really fighting back

  60. spactus says:

    James we’ve heard nothing about the Mclaren rear suspension that caught attention at the 1ast test.
    Is IT another F-Duct type solution?
    By that I mean it may have some advantages to their design,but not worth coping since, they havent exctly light the world on fire with it

  61. Diabolo says:

    i think lots of people in the paddock would be happy to see the Martini livery on the front row in OZ and during the season.
    So far if you could predict the grid (regarding quali pace), i would bet on different group:
    -Williams and Mercedes
    -McLaren, Force India and Ferrari
    -Redbull, Toro Rosso, Sauber, Marussia
    -Lotus, Caterham

  62. delucs says:

    Never loved testing so much as i have this year. RBR are gone.. No chance for recovery considering how many miles they have put in.. For all the rbr supporters give it up because there is no coming back from this & i would really love anyone to defend their ability right now as being the team to take the wcc in 2014. Merc have the engine( notice how i said merc) & they will be the dominant force for a few years to come. Bye bye newey the last four were your last. Hope the sea salt doesnt corrode the anchors you have installed on this boat you call the rb10 hehe.

  63. Torchwood Five says:

    I am getting quite concerned for the season now.

  64. Thread the Needle says:

    Williams car does look good this year, looking forward to seeing their new livery

    Hopefully Massa or Bottas will get a win this year

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