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Little gain in Spain as reliability issues hamper running: Jerez test Day #1
Posted By: Justin Hynes  |  28 Jan 2014   |  6:12 pm GMT  |  69 comments

As heavily forecast, day one of pre-season testing ahead of the 2014 season was characterised by little running and, for those that did venture out onto the Circuito de Jerez, less reliability.

Following the noise of early-morning car launches by Mercedes, Red Bull Racing and Force India silence reigned at the southern Spanish track as most teams held station in their garages with Caterham opting to delay the release of its car due to technical issues.

And when track action did begin it was with a whimper, later followed by a bang. On his first day back with Ferrari, Kimi Raikkonen was forced to stop his F14 T out on track upon instructions from the team, while Sergio Perez, on his first outing with Force India, also stopped on circuit before guiding his VJM07 back to the pits.

The bang came, later, as Lewis Hamilton, who had managed 18 laps and set the early pace with a time of 1:27.820, suffered a front wing failure on his new Mercedes W05 and was pitched into the tyres barriers.

Hamilton was unhurt but the same could not be said for his car and the incident brought Mercedes’ day one running to a premature end. Hamilton though was positive about the laps he had managed to complete.

“For me it’s an incredibly positive start to be the first car out on track and completing a good number of laps,” he said. “Other teams have been going out for single-lap runs, starting a few hours after we had first hit the track, so to have started running through our test programme was very encouraging.”

Elsewhere, only Raikkonen, with a lap of 1:29.474 prior to his halt, and Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne (1:36.530) set timed laps in the opening hours of running. Instead, most were content to tiptoe through installation laps before retreating to the pits to analyse data from the complex new cars.

After early afternoon reveals, Caterham’s CT05, with rookie Marcus Ericsson at the wheel, and Williams’ FW36, driven by Valtteri Bottas, took to the track for installation laps. Red Bull Racing’s RB10, though, was still in the garage, the team reporting that it was correcting a gearbox issue.

The champion eventually guided his new car onto the circuit with 15 minutes to go, the RB10 shod with intermediate tyres to deal with the aftermath of brief shower that had crossed the circuit beforehand.

Vettel managed three untimed laps in total before the session ended and admitted afterwards that it had been impossible to develop any feel for the car.

“We did a total of three laps today so it was difficult to get an impression of what the new car is like,” he said. “We weren’t quite ready this morning and things took a little bit longer than expected. But considering the total amount of running we saw today I think everybody is in a similar position. The laps we did were just to run the car and get everything up to temperature, but it was impossible to get a feeling for it today. There’s still a lot we can through tonight. Even if you don’t do much running there’s plenty of work.”

There was little heat generated at McLaren, however. The team failed to manage any track time at all on day one, with the MP4-29 reportedly sidelined by “electrical issues”.

As such, it was left to Kimi Raikkonen to claim top spot, with a lap of 1:27.104, for whatever that’s worth. Of more value was the total of 31 laps put in by the Ferrari driver, the day’s biggest total. Hamilton’s 17 laps put him second in the track time stakes, with Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne next with 15 laps.

Jerez Test – Day One Times

1. Kimi Raikkonen  Ferrari  1m27.104s  31 Laps

2. Lewis Hamilton  Mercedes  1m27.820s  +0.716s  18

3. Valtteri Bottas  Williams  1m30.082s  +2.978s  7

4. Sergio Perez  Force India  1m33.161s  +6.057s 11

5. Jean-Eric Vergne  Toro Rosso  1m36.530s +9.426s  15

6. Esteban Gutierrez  Sauber  1m42.257s  +15.153s  7

7. Sebastian Vettel  Red Bull Racing  No time  3

8. Marcus Ericsson  Caterham  No time  1


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How come no mention of redbulls car catching fire after 3laps………?


Morning James,

What I don’t understand is all these cars must’ve been fired up & put together at their factories & he we are on the night before testing & throughout the first day not able to get any running because they’re all being worked on.


Very complex systems for sure!


Hi James,

Do you know who was running the McLaren pit and was Whitmarsh there yesterday?


@ Sri

Actually the 2010 Ferrari wasn’t up to scratch till upgrades came in at Valencia.

Before then it was Red Bull and Mclaren sharing the spoils up front.

As for 2012, Mclaren, Red Bull and Ferrari were all stronger than Lotus.


First day back at school, everyone’s a bit twitchy. To be expected really.


The only thing that can even slightly be read into this week is reliability. It is impossible to be thinking of laptimes now. Bahrain will of course be a lot hotter and that will likely see more technical issues, so the second week in Bahrain (the third test week) is when we can realistically hope to see representative times.


Afternoon James: Now that we have all of the cars uncovered, the significant “complexity” (at least in appearence) of the front wings might be something of interest to address in a technical discussion. The series of these articles has been, am sure, very much appreciated from your site. Any chance of addressing front wings before long? Thank you.


Yes, it’s on Prof Gillan’s list!


As expected by the rule changes favouring engine manufacturers, the two works teams have the edge. So it’s looking like a Merc vs Ferrari fight this year, with Merc having the better car/engine and Ferrari having the better driver pairing. It won’t take RBR long to join the battle but given that all their advantages have been negated through regulation changes (e.g. blown diffuser), they seem to be behind. The tyres are unlikely to be the biggest factor this year as Pirelli has most likely produced harder tyres to avoid the same issues, while reliability and engine development will favour the two works teams.


I think it’s a bit early to come to any conclusions about anything. You’re trying to draw a picture of the season going by the first test of the year, in which only half a dozen cars set a time, and the total of number of laps by everyone was probably less than what one team would have done last year.

I also wouldn’t expect Merc and Ferrari to have any advantage over Red Bull just because they’re engine manufacturers. Red Bull are the works Renault team, and that hasn’t exactly been a poor partnership the last few years. This is 2014. I don’t suspect working in two different countries is any real obstacle to productivity for these people.


Too early to conclude, what with RBR, McLaren, Lotus, Marussia and others not even having completed a lap!


Yes, that’s the hint: those teams have hardly completed any lap (or none at all), when both Merc and Ferrari have done so many, 25 for one (Silverstone+Jerez) and 31 for the other.

And all the teams you mention are not works teams, so clearly at a disadvantage this year.

RBR are the champion, so will get into the fight, but for the rest, they are very unlikely to do a “Brawn”. RBR also do not have the best reliability record over the last few years (remember 2010 and 2012), and as everyone is saying (Newey included) reliability plays a big part this year.

So based on the first day, it’s advantage Merc and Ferrari.

Merc have produced the best engine over the last years, and are now given a free card to do engine development. Ferrari has the best reliability record since the Schumacher years, and that’s what helped fight for championships in 2010 and 2012.


what makes you say that merc had the better car/engine – not enough running to see the engines and their front end falling off didn’t say much for the car!!


My “hunch” is based on:

1) How much time they spent on the engine development, and the fact that they can easily mould/optimise the engine and package together.

2) How smoothly it went for their 7 laps at Silverstone.

3) How smoothly it went for them for 18 laps with the power unit.

As for the wing failure, it’s better to happen now than in Australia, and nowhere as serious as something failing with the power unit, unlike Ferrari.

That’s why I think Merc hold a slight advantage over Ferrari, and both hold an advantage over the rest because it went pretty smoothly for both of them, and being works team, they have been and will be able to take advantage of engine development this year.


There again perhaps McLaren should have had the biggest advantage as all the engines rely on the McLaren ECU…


The ECU plays a really small role now because it’s not changed much since a while. It did affect RBR last year when the ECU failed.

McLaren is in bad shape, pretty bad since it hasn’t even announced the new Team Principal, hasn’t been able to roll out the new car on the first day of test, is losing its engine next year (and paying Merc a hefty price for it this year) and have no replacement for Vodafone as main sponsor. It’s really a transition year and they’ll take what they can, but they don’t seem much chances of them fighting for any title this year.

I doubt very much they’ll be doing a “Brawn” this year given how much the regulations have changed and affect the engine the most.


I thought I had read that the ECU was changed for this year… even if not physically it is doing a dramatically different job with such a fundamental change to the drive trains.

Instead of looking after 8 cylinders it is now looking after 6 cylinders and for the first time a turbo – which is far more complicated than a simple road car turbo. The ECU is now looking after power from 3 sources (engine, turbo and electrical) and a far more regulated fuel flow.

So McLaren Technologies has had to learn how to combine bits never before seen in an F1 engine and has had to work with 3 engine builders asking new questions… maybe this is why Honda are waiting for next year.

The issues McLaren are facing this year are all short term issues and are probably the best placed team to face problems head on – they don’t have a remote board of directors demanding results like Mercedes and all the other car builders.

I do not believe the lack of sponsor is any more than working out how to work with Honda next year. IF they are to be next years’ Title sponsor who would sign up for a single year? Title sponsorship is a longer term partnership. It could be that Honda are already paying for this year but won’t put their name next to Mercedes.

When it comes to team principle there is very little to worry about until they hit a problem at a race. McLaren are a broad team who know how to react to problems behind the scenes. Ron Dennis is more than capable of knocking heads together when TV cameras are not watching.


nose on the Force Indy looks alright from that angle


At the very least it still looks better than the Caterham.


James, I noticed Gary Anderson is doing analysis for Autosport, does it mean he’ll be doing for BBC as well?


Not this year


That’s a shame James. Gary is so well informed and incisive with his analysis. Mark Hughes is superb as well for his incredibly detailed examination of a cars behaviour and a drivers technique. Gary will be sorely missed on the Beeb. It makes me wonder why when Gary worked for Jordan and Jaguar they didn’t take advantage more of his wisdom and knowledge. Back stabbing politics probably. Perhaps if they listened to Gary properly, maybe Jag and Jordan could of achieved more. Dunno.

By the way, Mark Hughes book on F1 1970 is superb. It just shows you that even though F1 has changed dramatically over the years, the little nuances that play out over a season never change.


Meh, first day shakedowns always going to be full of problems and times mean nothing.

Disconcerting when you can’t even get going, though. There’s quite a few people going to be clocking up a heap of overtime in the next few weeks.

The best thing about first day testing is that it means race 1 isn’t far away. Despite the ugly cars, stupid rule changes, V6s et al, I’m starting to shiver with antici—-pation.

Here’s a question for James, will you be doing a piece on why different teams have taken quite different approaches to the front end and ,particularly, what it may mean in terms of performance?

I’d love to see a nice technical(ish) insight/explanation into what may be gained/lost from the differences between the proboscis, vacuum cleaner, and tuning forks designs we are seeing.


These reliability issues show Lotus’s choice to skip this test all the more stark. They’ll still have to go through all of this, whilst their competitors will be four days down the road.


or they are getting the embarrassing bit out of the way at the factory, have saved a lot of pointless hotel bills and will hit the ground running at the next test…. unlikely but possible


I genuinely fear Mclaren could struggle again this year. I know it’s only day 1 of testing but they’re just not the slick operation they once were. And let’s not forget this is another Whitmarsh overseen car. Visually the car doesn’t look as aggressive as the Ferrari and Mercs, who look to have gone down the same design route and gut feeling they may have got it right (ok no one really knows yet, just saying).


Electrical issues could very likely be with the Mercedes power unit so hardly their fault. And Whitmarsh has about as much tech input into this car as Horner has in the RB10 – i.e. None other than signing the designers pay cheques…


I know he doesn’t have tech input , but his ‘aura’ of failure seems to have rubbed off on the whole team


Sorry to sound like David Cameron and Gordon Brown, but I agree with Nick! Although Martin cannot be blamed for the lemon that was the 2013 F1 car – he has no input in the design – it was patently obvious after Malaysia that the 2013 F1 Macca was a dud. Apparently, Ron told Martin to bin the 2013 Macca, but Martin foolishly listened to his design time who told him “all don’t worry Martin ,we’ll do what we did in 2009 and turn a pigs ear into a silk purse.” So Macca persisted with that awful 2013 F1 car all season and paid the penalty: dropping to a dismal fifth place. It was patently obvious after Malaysia 2013 then the 2013 Macca should have been dumped. If Martin had listened to Ron’s advice, perhaps bringing back the 2012 F1 car could have saved Macca’s season and quite possibly Martin’s job. In my opinion, not to do so was a flawed judgement and an example of poor management. Martin’s a good bloke, but he’s not cut out for managerial F1.

Comments welcome, as always.


Because he didn’t win anything did he. Hamilton should have won at least 1 more title at Mclaren but was let down by either bad car, or fast unreliable car. Whitmarsh knows this.

So what if he is a nice bloke who is good at talking in the public eye. Who cares, he mostly spewed the standard Mclaren corporate BS anyway, dancing around questions normally aimed at why they’d failed this time.


I for one will miss Whitmarsh, who always came across as nothing other than a total professional when interviewed, and who always had time to talk to broadcasters. I am definitely not getting this “aura of failure”, unless of course you are privy to matters behind closed doors.


Yes perception is a funny thing. Mclaren just officially announced Bouiller as team racing director half an hour ago. Literally no mention of Whitmarsh in the whole press release. This leaves little doubt in my mind as to who Ron feels is responsible for poor performances. Martinwho


lol that’s mean yet so true.


True but there was a comparison between Ron’s last few years as TP and the championship positions for the team were equivalent with Whitmarsh. The guy has been blamed for a lot of problems that are nothing to do with him. To be honest if Red Bull do get beaten this year Horner won’t get the stick for it. It’s probably Whitmarsh’s poor luck to come into the fold when first Brawn and then Red Bull developed the stranglehold on the sport.

And let’s face it Ross Brawn oversaw years of Michael Schumacher scraping round the back of the grid in the last few silver arrows and it was only last year they pulled themselves together. But you don’t hear anyone saying Ross had an air of failure about him.

Perception is a funny thing really – some people get a bad rap, others seem impervious.


It’s a touch early Nick to be speculative…………..and yet I think you’re right about the lack of operational efficiency at Macca.


Ferrari and Mercedes look quite well prepared, McLaren not so much… The Red Bull looks fast, but I hope that it will be close between Ferrari, Mercedes, RedBull and perhaps Williams?


Well in terms of preparation mclaren can’t foresee electrical issues and Mercedes forgot to build a front wing that stays on at 9 seconds a lap slower than last year…so in terms of prep it might come out even 😉


31 laps by Ferrari is a positive start for them. I wonder if Lotus are regretting their decision now to miss the test, looking at how the others have struggled just to get the cars running.

Hopefully a bit more action tomorrow.


Doubt the decision to attend it was ever a reality. I wont be surprised if they don’t make it to Bahrain either.


Not a bad start by Mercedes & Ferrari. Shame Red Bull couldn’t manage a timed lap…but McLaren?

They must be gutted not even to make it out of the garage..I felt that Mercedes doing a filming day to make sure the car ran was an obvious thing to do…McLaren always seem to waste time at these tests..I bet Jenson wasn’t impressed!

Great to see the Williams in Third..I hope they have a great season.


I bet mclaren aren’t getting quite the same level of support from the Mercedes power train people as the works team. I know they are all professionals but I can sort of imagine the mclaren crew saying ‘we have an ERS problem’ and the Merc crew saying, ‘yeah, we’ll get right on that…’ Before wandering over to check out the pastries…


……….or mercedes could be thrashing mclaren for all they are worth as development gimps, maybe their “electrical” problem is a “merc gave us some different bits to try” problem?!


It’s perfectly legitimate for Mercedes to set aside the slightly better dyno tested units for the works team and they are definitely concerned about losing IP to Honda. Limiting support for mclaren a tiny fraction (even subconsciously!) could happen.


passing the crash tests was higher on their list of things still to do


There must be a lot of technical challenges for the teams on day 1 as everything is new.

However very few laps except 2-3 teams in the whole day when only 12 days of testing for the whole year.

Let us hope there is more action tomorrow otherwise we have prospect of seeing many retirements in Australia.


Poor Marcus, one lap, no time, the whole lap fingers pointing and laughter.

I have a feeling Daniel is going to have to give up 1/2 day to Vettel this week.


Getting psyched for the season. Any news on the sounds or the increased torque?


plenty of talk but very little torque.

Only Lewis got anywhere near using much torque – I doubt if anyone actually got foot to the floor today!


Yes there was limited running as expected on the first day of testing but it’s still great to have some action back and to see the cars.

The encouraging sign from today is we haven’t seen any engine blowouts or any issues regarding the Pirellis.

The Mercedes is looking good and as a bonus, it appears it will be reliable too for just like last year, Lewis had a DNF on the first day of testing and then never had another mechanical DNF the entire season.

Since the experts have claimed that 2014 is so complex and so there will be little sandbagging this winter, it appears the Williams team is leading the midfield pack with Sauber bringing up the rear.

But as a word of caution, in these past seasons since the testing ban, whoever of the top teams has set the fastest time on day one >>> that’s the team struggling for pace e.g.










“The Mercedes is looking good and as a bonus, it appears it will be reliable too for just like last year”

NOT sure 18 laps give me that kind of confidence


On the contrary: In 2010, 2011, 2012 the toppers were not “struggling” for pace. 2010, Ferrari was right there. 2011, SV+RBR was too good for everyone else. 2012 Kimi+Lotus was competitive, but just that Ferrari and RBR were a bit better.

Only 2013 qualifies (so it is only 1 out of 4).


@ Sri

But remember in 2010, both Red Bull and Mclaren were faster than Ferrari till the team rolled in their upgrades at Valencia, only then did Ferrari become the 2nd fastest team

In 2011, Ferrari had issues with the hard and medium tyres as they couldn’t get heat in them

2012 Lotus was slower than Mclaren, Red Bull and Ferrari and that’s why Kimi achieved one win at the second last race.


And again and again the same thing. Lotus was not slower in 2012 than Ferrari, no way. It was the second/third best car, taking into account Mclaren reliability issues. Fastest cars of 2012 were Mclaren /Red Bull, depending on the moment of the season. The 2012 Lotus was better than the 2013 Lotus, in the sense that the pace deficit with the best car was much smaller. Had Kimi been at his best in 2012 he could have done something quite remarkable in that car.


Yikes. Nice stat goferet.

If an engine blew up today it would be really funny. 1, 3, 7 laps at pedestrian pace, not exactly a significant load if I may say so.


@ Sebee

Stranger things have happened.

Kimi blew an engine at Monaco 2006 under safety car conditions.


This really is going to be interesting


31 laps by Kimi. That’s awesome result for the first day.

Any news how badly the Mercedes was damaged? I hope it’s up and running tomorrow.


Nose and front suspension on one side. Comparatively light!


I vote we let the championship standings stay exactly like this 🙂

Anyone else?


I object.

Last years’ result carry over if these cars don’t complete a GP distance.


Does that mean Webber gets points?


You have to hand it to him: Retires and still manages to come third.

Not a bad effort 😉


Surprised macca no show

Cant really learn much yet

Lots of reliability issues as expected

I really like the new merc beautiful car

Such a wierd range of cars this year

Caterham is a bit funny looking – definately a boy one


If compared to 2013 first day of testing kimis time was around 9 seconds slower, quite a big change? …as expected I guess


While the cars may indeed be slower than last year, I don’t think they’ll be 9 seconds a lap slower. And Jerez isn’t even a long lap.

It’s the first day of running in brand new cars with brand new engines (or whatever they’re called) with new cooling requirements and whatnot. Only half the teams put in timed laps, and 31 was the highest number of laps put in. Behind that, 18 and 15 laps. I’d say considering the teams are barely even getting out there, it’s no great stretch of the imagination to guess that the laps they are putting in aren’t really pushing the limits.


I think on any year in which there’s a regulation change of this magnitude, it’s asking for trouble to be stuck with a limited test program.

I read there were 4 extra days of in-season testing? And this is somehow to control costs? What?

Let them work the reliability issues out using as much time as they need. Nobody wants races to be won based mostly on mechanical failure.

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