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Perez Begins Final Pre-season Test of 2014 On Top As Renault teams continue to struggle
Posted By:   |  27 Feb 2014   |  4:32 pm GMT  |  139 comments

Force India’s Sergio Perez set the pace as the final four days of pre-season testing got underway in Bahrain today, the former McLaren driver finished ahead of Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen on another worrying day for Renault and its customer teams.

With just four days until the teams turn their attention to Melbourne it was another strong day for Mercedes-powered cars, with all but Rosberg completing more than 100 laps and building on the reliability that they have shown throughout the winter. As for the works Mercedes driver, even he put in 89 laps, but described it as a “difficult day”. Mercedes is running close to its Melbourne specification car in this week’s test and not everything performed well today.

“We are pushing everything to the limit and we still have a massive challenge in front of us during the last three days of testing. We need to maximise our time here to be prepared for Melbourne. But after a difficult day overall we are on the right path,” said Rosberg.

The same cannot be said for those cars powered by Renault. An early burst of 32 laps set up a promising day for Daniel Ricciardo and Red Bull Racing, only for an exhaust problem to restrict the team to the garage for much of the afternoon. The Australian racer reappeared with 25 minutes of the session remaining and completed seven slow laps as the team assessed the changes made.

“Last week we were doing stuff that we would have liked to have done in Jerez and now we’re trying to catch up on stuff from last week,” said Ricciardo. “We’re definitely not up to scratch with where we’d like to be in terms of programme.

“We know where we are with performance we’re putting in the car and I think we’re still confident that we can be up there. But it’s hard to say. It’s clear we probably won’t come out to Melbourne and dominate.”

Lotus, with Pastor Maldonado at the wheel of the E22, also made a bright start before a stop on track brought out the red flags. They, too, suffered an exhaust problem and the issue was significant enough to require the team to cut its day short with an hour of running remaining.

The other red flags of the day were also caused by Renault-powered cars, as Kamui Kobayashi’s Caterham ground to a halt this morning before the Toro Rosso of Daniil Kvyat followed suit later in the day.

Back at the front, it was largely plain sailing for Mercedes-powered machinery. Perez’s best time of 1:35.290 was set in the morning before he focused on longer runs in the afternoon. The Mexican’s quick lap was good enough for an eventual gap of 0.9s to Bottas. Race simulations for McLaren and Williams completed a positive day for Kevin Magnussen and Bottas respectively, while Mercedes spent the afternoon conducting practice pit-stops and race starts. They cut their day short with ten minutes remaining citing ‘problems’, which they are yet to elaborate on.

A late, quick lap by Kimi Raikkonen saw the Finn complete the top three after his Ferrari team remedied an electrical issue from this morning. Raikkonen, though, brought the session to a close when his F14T stopped with two minutes left on the clock. Of Ferrari’s customer teams, Adrian Sutil’s Sauber ended the day in fifth place with a lap tally of eighty-nine, while Max Chilton finished in eighth place for Marussia.

Bahrain Test Two; Day One Times
1. Sergio Perez Force India 1:35.290 105 laps
2. Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:36.184 +0.894s 128 laps
3. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:36.432 +1.142s 54 laps
4. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:36.624 +1.334s 89 laps
5. Adrian Sutil Sauber 1:37.700s +2.410s 89 laps
6. Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1:37.825 +2.535s 109 laps
7. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:37.908 +2.618s 39 laps
8. Max Chilton Marussia 1:38.610 +3.320s 44 laps
9. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:39.242 +3.952s 56 laps
10. Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:40.599 +5.309s 31 laps
11. Kamui Kobayashi Caterham 1:42.285 +6.995s 19 laps

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What can we read into Ferrari’s performance in Testing so far? Are they in trouble. They look very reliable, but the speed seems lacking.

Kimi and Alonso have posted fastest times within two-three tenths of each other (expected) BUT their fastest times is still more than 2 seconds of Williams fastest time in testing?

Was Kimi’s fastest time set on a qualifying simulation? Have they tried a genuine pedal to the metal qualifying simulation yet?

I am sure all Ferrari fans want to know.

At the moment, it looks like Ferrari will be reliably trundling around in the lower midfield and will pick up spots if others ahead break down …. 🙁




Not had everything from the engine

Car is ok I think. They will be in the mix as the year goes on


How many respectively have Kimi & Fernando completed at the end of Bahrain T2, Day 2? I suppose it would make for a skewed reading. Anyone notice this? Does any other driver pairing have a similar anamoly?


Sorry … How many ‘laps’?


in the main the races really only revolve around the the top ten/twelve cars/drivers anyway. what’s the difference?the other ten cars are an irrelevance.

the bottom three teams really are a total waste of time and money as well…IMO.


Hi James

Do you have / can you share any long run data, would be good to see what the drop off is looking like for the different cars.

Do you think force India are in the running or just grabbing headlines?

Thank you


We will get into that over the weekend


Strange how all people is focused on engine performance – is that engine more powerful than this?/ that car faster than this one ?

In my opinion this has no relevance at all since ll will be about the “engineer driven driver” ( :D) sticking to the ante calculated lap times that would ensure the race distance covered with 100 kg fuel.

As a team strategy it is obvious that the teams who can ask their drivers to follow each other closely, much as the Alonso – Masa tandem did during some qualif sessions, will have a huge advantage over the ” two sword in the same sheath” teams as Mercedes and Ferrari. Following another team’s driver to save fuel over his dragging is another obvious tactic that will be adopted.

I hope to be a false prophet but, onestlly, I can envisage the situation when after a couple of races unfolded at GP3 speed sad, sad procession until the last few laps followed by a a GP2 speed “sprint” to the finish, Bernie Ecclestone will force-convince FIA to drop the new regulation altogether and the teams to bring their older cars to the remaining races to save the audience. LOL



Do the drivers change ERS settings during the race (testing) or is it firmly pre-programmed for each particular track just to fully utilize accumulated electrical energy?


It is programed I believe, so not like KERS where the driver had to push a button when he wanted it


Do the teams have just 1 car for testing or does each driver have their own?


One car per team to save money


Only 1 Chassis is my guess.


There seems to be this big fuss that only half the field will make the finish in Melbourne and it will bring the sport into disripute somehow. Honestly, so what? Anybody that’s been watching F1 before 2009 will tell you that’s just how it used to be.

Who can forget Mark Webber scoring points on debut in a Minardi? It’s legend. But he was the last car to actually finish that race iirc and points were only given to top 6. Yet the sport survived and flourished. I’m looking forward to less reliability. It adds that nail biting sensation to every race.


Yes, yes and yes.


I do not like the Black painted rear of the Ferrari. I hope it is ONLY part of the testing livery and come Melbourne, the car will be all red. Anyone else share the same opinion?

But of course I would not care at all, if they retain the black, get Kimi on pole and drive away to win the race and set the fastest lap 🙂


Could it be that Schumi is awake and they are just keeping it on the low down to prevent a media swarm?


Oh dear, Ferrari seems to be struggling and Red Bull haven’t really progressed much. Three more days of testing is all that’s left, a bit panicky for teams not running enough laps.

Making a wild guess that only 60% to 70% will complete the race in Melbourne. Does anyone think it’ll be less than that?

New rules made the cars very sensitive to breakdowns.

I’m impress with Williams though. They seem to have run the most laps in a day of late.


Anderson just makes blind guesses based on a feeling, doubt he really has a clue by just looking at parts. He doesn’t have the teams information.


That was aimed at a post from above. My phone had a wobble


hahahaha….you may well be right dave.


The first part sounds awesome, the second part less so…


It’s getting downright ridiculous.

When the lights go out at Melbourne it will just be a white-knuckle charge to the first turn with all of these various sordid Jules Verne contraptions sucking, blowing, whizzing and whining, arcing and sparking, all on their way to the scene of the crash, sling-shotting into one another amid frantic variations of electro-mechanical boost and smoking rubber.

Wild guess – 10 of these hybrid Frankensteins won’t make it past lap 1, and there will be about 6 cars left at half distance spread out over a mile, and stunned fans will be milling about the paddock, tickets in hand, looking for a refund booth.


Now that’s entertainment!

Very little of what you describe doesn’t appeal… i’d take it over an old fashioned procession race in Hungary with one positional overtake per hour and no DNF’s any day of the week…


Ladies and Gentlemen, let’s all welcome Mr. Ecclestone to the comments section of this fine blog!

Hi Bernie, how ya doin’?


Oh that’s a wonderful encapsulation of Day One! Brilliant!


With every test day passing, it looks more and more like Mr E is right to tip Rosberg for the title (although I’d bet on Hamilton, or maybe Mr E is winding up Hamilton) and Force India for wins (probably at the hands of Hulkenberg).

The title fight seems to be a contest between Mercedes-powered teams with Merc at the top followed by a close pack. Ferrari are no experts in fuel efficiency but usually had good reliability, and Renault needs more time.


Nico beating Lewis in a season with durable tyres, would be quite an achievement.


Who beats who this year will have nothing to do with tyres or driving skills and everything to do with whose car makes it to the finish line without breaking down.


Love it, the first race will be excellent, maybe only half a dozen cars finishing, some 2 or 3 las down. Just like the good old days. All we need now is some sponsorship on the cars from a tobacco company and I can watch the telly wearing my flares…………:-)


I missed flares, but I’ll give you ten points for your username 🙂


Laps per day over the first five days in Bahrain.

Mercedes = 81 laps per day

Ferrari = 68 laps per day

Red Bull = 31 laps per day

In one sense this is good news for RB and the Renault engined cars. I’ve heard they are not using the ERS systems yet, just the base mechanical engine. Of course that’s bad in the sense that they have severe reliability problems, but good in the sense that there should be considerable performance gains still to come as issues are resolved and the electrical power comes on line.

Ferrari seem to be in a more awkward position, insofar as their car is working fairly reliably and as designed. That means there’s no obvious problem which can fixed which will lead to a large performance boost.


They are bringing some major upgrades to Bahrain test.


Given the fuel limitation, I think this year we need to consider that not the most powerful, but most efficient (generally, highest compression ration, lowest specific fuel consumption) engine and most efficient aero (downforce vs drag) might win the races… Because, well, it really is how to get to the finish with one big energy limitation: 100kg of fuel, in most races. You do it by going slower and by gaining efficiency. Compared to the 150kg of last year… I don’t think, even with all ERS stuff, they have compensated for it (maybe on some tracks it will be close, but high fuel consumption tracks, no way) so the most efficient car will win (efficient includes reliable also :P).

So, pole positions will be one thing, but having the fastest car, might not mean much compared to seasons before.

Imagine this. You do a trip with 3 mates, one with 100bhp engine, other 150, other 200.

Fuel limitation means you must do 6l/100km. If all cars have same drag (akin to downforce vs drag in racing) and the engines are of similar efficiency, all finish at the same time (the most powerful engine will have less throttle, least powerful most throttle, because in fact you couldn’t care less about max power, you care about the power that gives you the 6l/100km… and that’s basicaly specific fuel consumption… or in other words, engine efficiency, not power). Of course, in reality, its really difficult for such different engines to have the same fuel consumption at the same speed. But as a theoretical exercise, it can be done, simulated and calcd.

And I am quite curious to see how important will the “efficiency” of the whole car/engine package (meaning downforce, drag and fuel efficiency) will influence the races results. Actually, they could take a page or 2 from endurance racing… does the most powerful car win often there? Or its not so important?


so only 3 teams did a race distance with no problems? blimey, end of the aussie gp might be boring.


Now we know why the winner is allowed to do donuts! 😀


Ferrari powered cars aren’t exactly racking up the laps either.

From the little I saw last week, the Ferrari itself looked very loose at the rear end, I can see them being behind Red Bull as soon as Red Bull get a bit of consistent running.


Hi James, I remember watching V12s race V10s and V8s and distinctly remember the Renault V10 to be the best engine although the V8 powered Ford engine won the championship.

My question is, were the V12s so bad in those days that they gave no performance advantage what so ever? The reason i ask that question is because of your comment that Merc would be 7/10ths quicker if they were up by 75 bhp.

This is not in relation to Mercedes, but I would be grateful if you can tell us the last time a season was entirely decided by engine superiority alone. I can think of seasons where the chassis was so good that it helped an under powered engine win the title but can’t seem to recall an engine making up for a bad chassis.



RE KAlan: The V12 engine is bigger, longer, and heavier than an equivalent V8 or V10. Historically, Italian teams favoured Flat 12s or V12’s as they have perfect primary and secondary balance (a V12 is two straight 6’s glued together at the crankshaft, and a straight 6 is a perfectly balanced unit, while the Ferrari Flat 12 from the 70s was actually a 180 degree V12). This means they are very smooth, have virtually no harmonic vibrations and don’t require power sapping balance shafts like a V10 or a V8 requires (most racing V8s are flat plane rather than the heavy cross plane V8 used on road cars).

However, there are drawbacks to V12s…..a lot of V12’s suffered from oil churning problems. As a V12 crankcase is long the oil moves around inside. Before the oil can be pumped out, it will slosh backwards and forwards as a driver brakes/accelerates. The oil will then accumulate at the extremity of the crankcase, becoming very greasy and even glutinous. This means the oil is not scavenging properly, meaning the engine can’t rev as high, accelerate as fast, and will loose efficiency and therefore power. As a V10 and V8 are shorter, they don’t have the oil churning problems.

As well as being longer, a V12 is heavier and bulkier than its V8/V10 cousins. It has greater fuel consumption, so requires a bigger fuel tank which obviously adds more weight and eats into space. A V12 has inferior aero balance and centre of gravity compared to its V8/V10 cousins as a the lesser clyinder engines can be smaller and shorter, therefore they can be packaged more centrally and closer to the ground. A V12 being wider and longer means it has also more frontal area, increasing drag and denuding straight line speed.

A V12 engine is more “peaky” than a V8/V10, meaning its torque curve is not use-able as a V10: the Renault V10 had much more mid range torque – and driveability – than the Ferrari and Honda V12s.

Basically, with a V8 or V10 engine you can generate more downforce than a V12, which is why V12s were humiliated in F1 from 1992 to 1995.

I hope that explains a few issues!


@Toni @Gaz Boy

Thank you both very much for explaining it all in so much detail.


When it comes to F1 engines, small is beautiful because a small, light engine can be put lower in the car, giving a car better centre of gravity and aero balance. Also, because a smaller engine is less cluttered aerodynamically, that means the rear axle zone can generate more downforce.

This applies to road cars as well.


The V8 and V10 engines had a smaller displacement than the V12s so naturally they are smaller engines. For any given capacity a V12 will be longer but will have a smaller frontal area, as each cylinder has a smaller bore x stroke compared to the same capacity engine with fewer cylinders, allowing tighter packaging. Also the larger piston and valve area of a V12 will be more efficient and the smaller pistons will give a higher rev ceiling. This is why performance engines generally are multi cylinder designs.


I disagree that V12s are best for performance engines – most of the British sports car industry such as Lotus, Noble, Jaguar, McLaren, Ginetta, Ariel and Morgan have switched to forced induction V6 or V8s, usually turbo compounding technology. Lotus even use a tiny 4 cylinder supercharged Toyota unit! Like I mentioned, normally aspirated V12s suffer from oil churning because of the length of the crankcase, where as a V6 or V8 doesn’t.

I remember in the mid to late 90s when Jaguar axed their V12 for their brand new V8.

Also BMW has switched to V8 turbo compounding technology, so I think the V12 is something of a dying breed, the customer base for a 12 cylinder engine is diminishing rapidly.


I don’t think you can really make up for a very bad chassis, not even in the 50s, but much less after the rear engine, monocoque, etc… (so for pure engine superiority you have to go into the 30s or before).

Mercs of the 50s had a very good direct fuel injection engine; this was big part of their advantage.

1984, 1985 – TAG Porsche engine on the Maccas was more efficient, giving mclarens a good advantage (of course, it was not a bad car, but the engine helped a lot getting there)

1988 – the macca car was very good, part of it because honda was the only engine developed for the specific regulations of that season; one off approach integrated with chassis that worked wonderfully.

1975/76/77 – Ferrari flat 12 gave a good advantage to Ferrari, would be 3 in a row if not for Lauda’s accident

In the later years, 90+, I don’t think an engine alone pulled a team/car (aerodynamics, anyone :P). But I believe williams was so successful in part because of the renault V10 being sufficiently powerful to counter the V12 (which had much higher fuel consumption, hence higher weight) and frugal enough not to be outdone in fuel consumption by the Ford V8s (which were down on power, but light and used less fuel).

Has I have written bellow, I believe efficiency will be key this season. Am wondering if any team gave a proper attention to what is done in endurance racing, cause there is good stuff there for the type of F1 we are gona have in 2014 races (qualy is another thing, but hey… what good is pole, if you need to massively save fuel (say, lose the equiv to 100bhp :P) to get to the end of the race…


The Ford V8 Benny was very competitive at Hockenhiem 1990, I believe Sandro Nannini led the race for until Senna on fresh tyres passed him. The Ford V8 also had superb torque – just watch Michael in his Benny leaping out of slow corners in 1994, like Monaco or Canada that year.


Rosberg will deliver the second father-son world championship this year.

Loving Kobayashi saying that racing a GP2 car would be better than his Caterham – I’d say the Caterham Group will be sold this year if it’s really a dud.


I think you may have a point. This season is going to favour the smart drivers and as much of a Hamilton fan I am I’m under no illusion that he’s the brains in the team. Having spoken to my mate in the team he was commenting on how logical and thorough Rosberg was, although I did see a nice photo from testing of Hamilton looking over Rosberg shoulder while he was in the car reading the notes he’d made. The may be a good pairing but I think Hamilton’s best chance is to learn as much from his teammate as possible. At least there’ll be competition in the team which is better than RB last year!


Cant see nico beating lewis over a full season

Kobayashi as a pay driver obviously does not value his place in f1 by publically saying such comments, humiliating for the team and does not motivate, obviously its the painful truth but a struggling team needs to attract sponsors etc this does not help


I have to say that no matter who Lewis is partnered with, everyone seems to be of the

“Lewis is going to crush him” mindset and then when it doesn’t happen try to explain away why not. At the same time, no matter who Nico is partnered with, it is “Nico is going to be crushed” and when that doesn’t happen go back and try to explain that away as well. I am developing a real admiration for Nico who seems to be quietly but steadily improving and I hope he does well this season – he deserves it.


You’re right Grant, I apologize for posting that in the wrong spot. There does seem to be perpetual haze of hype around around Hamilton but the Lewis/Nico pairing is the one that I am looking forward to the most this season. It will be nice to watch two top drivers in what seems to be a top notch car racing each other with less chance of it turning into a political competition as can so often happen at Ferrari.

I am thinking Nico might have a shot at coming out on top though 😉


I didnt say lewis would crush nico, nico is very quick and will keep lewis on his toes, over a season think lewis will edge it, lewis is a bit quicker, even when they were young team mates this was the case


Depends if Lewis wakes up, whatever is going on with Nicole and all the rest of it I suppose.

As for Kobayashi, what do you expect him to day? “It’s amazing, everything’s just amazing.” or actually say something that’s truthful. Senna was slower in his HRT in 2010 than in his GP2 car, so it’s hardly without precedent.


You know what, I’ve got a good feeling about Nico Ros too.

Am I brave enough to go to my local bookies and put some serious dosh on him though?

That’s a point, have to check the bookies odds on the drivers after this test has concluded.


It is clear that Mercedes are somewhat sandbagging a little. They know they are well ahead of others. They are so far ahead on the development path. And there is no points for being fastest in testing.

It is probably true that the Mercedes engine is producing more power. But 75 bhp is like having last year’s KERS switched on all the way !!

The benefits of an integrated design for engine and chassis can be seen. Ferrari is the only other team who will benefit from this. And they seem not to be doing as well. Although other teams with Mercedes engine will benefit from the reliability, it is Mercedes who will have this integration. It is clearly advantageous for this season.

I think Mercedes might even be testing upgrades for Australia and beyond now.

What do you think, James ?

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