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