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2018 F1 season
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 ?


Do you think RB Torro Rosso regret their engine switch from Ferrari to Renault?


Yes, but not as much as RBR regret not switching from Renault to Ferrari 😉


yeah right!! Ferrari, Engine supplier to RBR? 😛

Haha Luca will never do that!!


In 2006 probably he did not consider RedBull to be a threat as they were Mid fielders.

Now the whole stance of Redbull is different.

Never say Never.. maybe..


Yeah right is pretty much what I said when someone first suggested that Raikkonen might go back to Ferrari.

Never say never 😉


He did in 2006 remember…………


Haha just a tad, they took a bullet there, prob was a cost saving in running both sister teams same way


Or could be Ferrari not wanting team Red Bull 2 (Toro Rosso) to tell all their engine secrets to Red Bull, and by extension to Renault…


Too bad Caterham is saddled with Renault.

I’d be curious to see how that weird nose of theirs performs compared to the others.


Well it’s not like Marussia are a long way ahead for using Ferrari power!


Its great to see Button in a car thats capable of challenging for the world title again.

This could be his change to add another 10 years to his career!!

Go Jenson Go !!


Yes, Jenson has potentially got a great car this year, lets hope Macca can match the speed with operational efficiency – ie no bungled pitstops, bizarre decisions under safety cars, etc.

Mind you, would Jenson want to race until he is 44/45? I suspect he’ll go until his late 30s and then call it a day.


Only 54 laps for Ferrari, and they seem to be well off the pace. Kimi was about three seconds down on Rosbergs best time from last week. Unless they’re engaging in sandbagging on an epic scale, they’re already out of title contention for 2014.

This was actually one of the best days for the Renault engined teams so far, which only goes to show how badly they’ve been suffering.


Gary Anderson has commented that Ferrari are lacking sufficient rear downforce, and that the front wing design is too conservative. Also factor in an engine was lacks the power and torque of the Merc, and yet again Ferrari at best look to be third or fourth row grid qualifiers.

The only saving grace for the Scuderia is that they have the analytical mind of James Allison to give them some vision and direction in their aero department, but perhaps his recruitment last summer was too late to have a significant input into this years car.

I think Ferrari have been too slow or unable to adjust to the new style of F1 development using CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) and simulation software. The front wing design is one of the few areas of the Formula 1 regulations that are open to different levels of interpretation, and since a F1 car goes forward a good front wing design will effectively channel clean airflow to the rear axle zone; in other words if the front wing design is flawed it will undermine the potential downforce of the rest of the car. I suspect that this has been Ferrari’s main problem.


Will this post is just plain silly.


Well, Ferrari wil be focusin on performance tests, long runs atleast during 2 of the remaining testing days. Ferrari could very well be lacking behind Mercedes, but we havent still seen the best from them.

Also I wouldnt write anyone off (except maybe Renault powered teams) from championship fight…testing is testing, but race-weekends are different thing altogether. For sure if Ferrari is indeed lacking in pure performance compared to Mercedes as such huge margin as it is said and Mercedes teams have the reliability during the season that they have now, then its going to be hard for Ferrari to beat them, but the bottom line, Ferrari hasnt yet showed everything they have, unlike almost all the other teams Ferrari’s focus hasnt so far been on putting as much laps as possible, and on the other hand, they had small problems that just took long time to fix, so they have lost some time because of those small problems.

Williams definitely looking to be the most improved team from last season, actually Williams seems to be the one team with almost no problems at all. Lucky thing for Massa to get there, not so lucky for Maldonado, no matter what he says about Lotus car….maybe the car would be great, but its not going to matter when Renault is playing catch up.

My biggest worry is indeed that we are going to see massive differences between the teams, where Mercedes powered cars, especially Mercedes themselves and Mclaren will utterly dominate, then come Ferrari, Williams, maybe Force India and Renault teams are going to either all DNF or to get lapped several times. That would make the season very boring indeed, Red Bull’s domination in 2011 and 2013 would be nothing compared to what I fear will unfold.


“the bottom line, Ferrari hasnt yet showed everything they have, unlike almost all the other teams”

It’s possible they are sandbagging, as I mentioned, but that’s just speculation. And also unlikely.

“Red Bull’s domination in 2011 and 2013 would be nothing compared to what I fear will unfold.”

I’m afraid that many people are going to get a harsh reminder of what old-school F1 domination really looked like, and it looked nothing like 2011 and 2013. But as long as the “correct” driver wins these little problems will all be waved away.


Depends on your definition of the “correct Driver” As far as Motor racing is concerned the winning driver is always the Correct driver.


James, i’m very concerned with the McLaren’s long run. Picking those numbers adujusting the tyres…it’s a shame the rate of time dropping!

Here my compilation (against Bottas):


Could the difference be due to McLaren’s “interesting” rear suspension?


Thats a very interesting comparison, I’m looking forward to more of these as we get to the end of testing. I see two things from that:

-McLaren were trying a one stop strategy vs two for Williams, thats partly why their times at the end of stints were slower.

– When Bottas starts each stint he’s 2 seconds a lap quicker than the start of the last stint, but McLaren aren’t. Presumably they put more fuel in. This would also increase deg at end of stint.

So I don’t think McLaren are looking that bad, in fact at the beginning they are 1sec a lap quicker. More interesting would be them vs Merc.


Ian, Merc race sim was better than both Williams and Macca’s.


Great stuff, interesting the macca degradation rate much steeper than williams, assume were running same tyre compounds? Be interesting to see how button compares magnussen is a rookie


Magnussen did two stints while Bottas did three. Take that into account.


Yago, Magnussen did a first short stint on hards, that affects the evaluation a little.

I’m expecting the Button’s race sim to see if those laptimes were just some different program.


Grant, I took the raw times and – using Paul Hembery’s tyre gaps insights – made the times convert to equivalent of medium tyres.

The amount of gas is unknown but as the amount of laps is close…

Im worried for Macca’s performance.


Thanks for that!


Hi James,

In reading the BBC Testing as it happened, Andrew Benson referenced a Senior Ferrari insider as saying that the Mercedes engine was producing 75 bhp more than the Ferrari engine and they could not figure out how they were doing it legally.

Is there any truth to this? Is the Ferrari engine that much more underpowered than the Merc? If so, what is the time difference per lap? It just seems a massive amount for Ferrari to be down on the Merc. It also makes you wonder if the Ferrari is down by that much, how much is the Renault engine down on bhp?

Your insight would be GREATLY appreciated.




My guess is a little bit from different areas although 75 horsepower sounds a lot. For example if Merc were able to make the air/fuel charge cooler and therefore denser that would contribute more power. If they were to more completely burn the fuel then more horsepower.

If the whole process of inducting the fuel, and exhausting burnt fuel is done more efficiently then more horsepower. Perhaps the turbo charger is more efficient. Who knows, but small increments add up to a useful advantage. I suppose the bottom line is that Merc have considerable experience in the field, and have done the job well.


And don’t forget that the ERS contributes ~160bhp to the total power available, so could not the shortfall in power be, in part, coming from the electrical side?


Another area for exploitation could be the water jacket design, that has a big effect on the temperature of a turbo unit. Apparently, the Ferrari water jacket system is very different to Mercs. Another potential issue is oil scavenging – keeping those pistons and valves well lubricated and at an efficient temperature is vital.

Another area for development is something as simple as the sump – this may be high tech F1, but good old fashioned mechanical engineering is still important.


I will look into it


Good to see Marussia finally put some laps together. Hopefully they can build on this throughout the test and get a race sim before Melbourne.

James, can you see Marussia mixing it up with the midfield teams this season?


I’m looking forward to Bianchi out qualifying Vettel in Melbourne! They wont make the finish though, cars are so complex now that even with a decently reliable unit like the Ferrari they’re still going to struggle to get the most from it software wise simply due to a chronic lack of resources.


Maurussia may not be ready for melbourne, i cant see them keeping up with devlopment pace, budget is too low, believe they employ less than half the big teams, first few races will be there best chance of points if they can avoid dnfs


One of the great things about dramatic rule changes is the potential for some giant killing to happen; I remember back in 2009 some upstart called Brawn shook up the F1 order……….

OK, it would be a bit of a stretch for Marussia to emulate Ross, Jenson and Rubens achievements in 2009, but netherless if you have had done your pre season homework going into a year of change there is every reason to create a few shocks. Marussia may be small, but they are also agile and nimble, and if there car has those qualities – allied to reliability – then in the first few fly away races they could spring a surprise.

Don’t be amazed to see some grandee names struggling in the early part of the season; it happens to the best!


RE Jean-Christophe and Pete: I’m not saying Marussia will do a Brawn – that would be pie in the sky……..what I am saying is that at the start of the season if they had a reliable, well sorted and crucially well integrated car they could – could! – get some points. I’m not saying they will be world beaters, I’m just saying they could get a few decent results while same of the grandee teams are struggling early season – if that happens.


Brawn is the most expensive car in F1 history, so no, Marussia will not be able to emulate this.


You seem to forget that Brawn had benefited from the huge amount of resources Honda had put into developing the car. The lack of resources meant that Brawn could not compete with RBR during the second half of the season


Resources are important and that’s going to hold back Marussia and Sauber. Throwing engineers and money at solving problems and developing the car etc.

It’s so complex this year


So Mercedes keep up the record of topping every test session of the winter with the exception of the first day.

Maybe, this pattern will carry on to free practice and qualifying in Australia, we wait and see.

Now considering we have Force India and Williams at the top, I guess the teams haven’t yet bolted on their upgrades and are still wary of reliability.

Meanwhile, could it be that the teams that had a change in top management will be the teams that have the upper hand in 2014 such as Lotus, Mclaren, Mercedes, Williams and Sauber.

As for Ferrari, I get the feeling the team is struggling to understand the car just like the 2012 one but first indications are Kimi will have the majority of the bad luck in the team.

Regards the Renault teams, today is the day those teams should write off the 2014 season and start focussing on 2015.

All in all, was a disappointing day for we didn’t get the fireworks we thought we would see in terms of out right performance.


> Regards the Renault teams, today is the day those teams should write off the 2014 season and start focussing on 2015.

Apart from the re-homologation of the engines ( which is neither here nor there team development wise) and maybe some nose reg tweaks, I’m not aware of any major technical changes being added for 2015?? If most 2014 in season development will be carried across to next season then what’s the reason to focus on 2015? Vettel did pick up enough points in the second 1/2 of 2013 to be at the top end of the drivers championship which I’m sure is enough of a carrot for them! It probably hangs on how performant the Renault might be underneath all these bugs or alternately how much change Renault are permitted to make in season. Then how many points the teams can hang on for early season.


@ mtm

Aah yes, you are right on the money.


Good to see Mercedes Power Units have reliability.

Do you think Williams will have its best season in years? They seem to have a steady progress since the tests in Jerez.

If they keep it up, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Felipinho or Bottas in a podium more than once this season.


Force India! seriously?

Where are the 1:33s laps set by Rosberg last week?


Not part of the schedule.


Ha-Ha don’t be fooled as it all depends what test sequences teams are running at any given point in time. Make no mistake the Merc is capable just that they are concentrating on other things.


What is becoming very clear is this:

1. Merc – 1

2. Ferrari – 2

3. Renault – 3

So it is not so much about the team, but mostly about the engine.

Another thought. Remember LDM always challenging the fact that F1 is too much aero-driven and forcing the sport going towards the engine?

With aero being the key element, Red Bull was the best. Things move towards the engine and again Ferrari is not leading the pack. I think LDM needs to do something:-)


Kimi split the four Merc teams so if he’s 75bhp down perhaps Ros and Magnussen had better take up lawn bowls.


I don’t actually think Mercedes are as strong as everyone makes them out to be, I’m sure the old guard Mclaren and Ferrar will challenge them. As for RBR? Seb should take a sabbatical and join his old friend Webber at Porsche for Le Mans and repay Mark by winning the race and tick off another box, coz fighting with the likes of Marrusia and Sauber will be painful.


Yes, he needs to get himself a Merc powered Ferrari pronto 😉


Aren’t you a little quick judging here ?

As far as I know it looks as if all is decided on raceday and efficiency is the key word. Fast lap times only count on saturday but the 25 points will be for the most efficient & reliable car.

From what we have seen it is probably fair to say that Mercs will be fighting for pole….

But that is it, impossible to say who has the most efficient engine, aero package and energy management.


If you want to get ahead, get a Merc……….

At least Daniel, Romain, Pastor et al will get to improve their fitness this year with all the walking he will have to do when his car breaks down in practice, qualifying and the race, for the first few fly away grand prix weekends anyway……..

Perhaps I’m being too critical against the Renault powered cars, there is still three days of testing to go, but my goodness, they have let things awfully late in order to improve.

Still, let’s wait for the weekend to pan out. I bet Daniel is……….


Today Renault will ask for an extension to the engine homologation deadline. This situation is pretty ridiculous, as it was them who wanted these engines in the first place and threatened to quit the sport if they weren’t introduced. On top of that they have had an extra year to develop their engines as these regs got pushed back a year!


I’ve read they are asking for an extra two months, and there needs to be an unanimous vote in their favour I believe


But surely they’d get more fitness from driving the car more on full power lol

Anyway yes Renault are screwed, RBR’ll need things to change drastically for them to be able to even finish the race in Australia.


They will ask a few favours from Bernie no doubt


Put it this way: You remember that reply I made yesterday-ish where I said I was one of those students that always handed in my projects late?

Even when I finally finished them, mine almost always ended up being rubbish 😉

Doesn’t bode well for Renault.


Well, I’m gonna say it…..Ferrari are struggling! Why would a team with everything running smoothly not attempt performance tests? There is no point in sandbagging when you are testing machinery that you do not have too much knowledge about. If you leave it to the last minute you might run into a snag that might curtail your running for the rest of the test then you go into the first race with absolutely no idea of potential problems that might hit you through the weekend, and as we have seen these cars take an absolute eternity to fix. Maybe they have already done these performance tests and they are just not fast enough!


Kimi was faster than Ros and Magnussen so not that slow.


Ros only ran the softer tyre at the start of his race sim – full of fuel. His time was set on the harder tyre.


At the moment, and probably the first few races anyway (the whole season?), “faster” may not be as big a factor…


Andrew Benson says Ferrari are 75bhp down on Mercedes and they are still wondering how Mercedes manages to have that high power with low fuel consumption to meet the fuel restrictions. Sounds worrying.


Regarding engines, there are three unknown variables to consider: power, reliability, and consumption. If someone add downforce to equation, how could anyone predict what will be after say, five, six or ten races? Even Red Bull will have a chance to win.


If ferrari are wondering how merc achieves performance must be in not so good place


The technical regulations governing the engines are very exacting and it’s hard to see how one engine maker could gain an advantage there.

On the other hand, I don’t see anything in the regs stating that all fuels used must produce identical energy per unit mass. It’s possible that 100kg of Mercedes engine fuel contains more energy than 100kg of Ferrari or Renault fuel.


Fuel must be identical specs to fuel derived from gas pump in europe.

thus, within a few percent (or even, tenth of percent), the specific energy of the fuel will be the same.

Now, in the 80s and 90s there were some nice formulations from Shell & Cie to get arround this… and that’s how we got to street fuel specifications in the rule book.


I’ve posted some comments below to Steve S, but I’ll repeat them here quickly: Gary Anderson has commented that Ferrari’s front wing design is too conservative and not as effective as Merc/Macca. So what? Well, if the front wing is ineffectual it will not distribute air – and therefore downforce – properly or in good quantities to the rear axle zone. Add in an engine that is not at the same development stage as the Merc and Ferrari could be struggling to get into the top six qualifiers for the fly away races.


Gary Anderson has also commented last year, that the Mercs sidepods were not good and that they were actually creating lift. He was rather underwhelmed by Mercedes’ design, but we know he was pretty wrong on that.

One cannot judge Formula-1 aerodynamics by the way some parts look, you need CFD, wind tunnels, Flow-Viz and grids of pitot tubes for that.


He also said McLaren were looking really good after testing and that Perez was his pick for pole…


Exactly, last year Anderson reckoned Mclaren had an awesome car and Merc was average and had problems but the actual facts were the complete opposite. Never listen to Gary Anderson.


See my post in reaction to Steve S.

Fair comments, but interestingly I think F1 has switched from full on wind tunnel work to more simulation with fluid dynamics – Mercedes and McLaren have invested heavily in that area, and possibly this year they may reap the reward.


I’m not sure the fuel consumption will be entirely apparent until the racing starts and we start hearing how much the drivers are being told to turn the engines down. I’m sure they’ll all be capable of going much quicker than most of the race will be run at. I’d bet the most efficient engine will be a better option on race day than the one with peak hp. If the Merc PU has both then everyone else is in trouble!


Well you see extra horsepower can be used to improve fuel efficiency so one feeds the other!


Toni: It’s all in the gearing, and it’s done in road cars all the time. Perhaps horsepower being largely a function of revolution is a bad example for which increased torque makes more sense.


The reasoning is simple. Just watch the Top Gear epsiode where they had a fuel economy test between an BMW M3 and a Toyota Prius. 10 laps at the TG track, full throttle for the Prius, the M3 had to match the pace. And was a lot more economical. When combining speed and efficiency, rserve power is always good to have.


Care to explain that reasoning? How do you use “extra” horsepower to improve fuel efficiency?

I have studied combustion engines in detail and I don’t see any relationship between outright power and specific fuel consumption (which is what efficiency is).

If you’re gona say you accelerate less with a more powerful engine, let me start by saying that best efficiency is wide open throttle for gas engines (really not as surprise, there is less gas flow restriction to overcome as the ports are wide open).

So, if equal technology and specifications (compression ratio, injection type, etc…) an engine with 100bhp running full throttle will be more efficient that a 200bhp engine running at 50% throttle. (Its not “exactly” like this, but for the point of discussion and internet its close enough ;)).


James, how likely is it that the Ferrari engine is about 75 bhp down on the Merc? Or, do you know that to be the case? Because apparently a senior Ferrari figure said that the Ferrari engine is about 75 bhp down on the Merc’s engine….


It occurs to me that top speed/horsepower is not the only variable that is decisive.

We’re starting to see the breakdown between one lap pace and race pace (constrained by fuel efficiency requirements); so at the end of the race, cars may be over their maximum limit of fuel.

That being said, it’s always good to have 75 horsepower at hand, which can be used to devestating effect, in very limited instances, thus not likely to compromize fuel limitation constraints.


Not heard that, but checking it out. That’s 7/10ths of a second per lap right there!


Ok thanks. Do you think that we will see the engine manufacturers put their engines up to max performance by the end of this test? If so, what day?


As a team you want to leave it to last day at-all. You want to know if you are going to fail crucially if you run close to the limit, because you have to assume your competitors will run close to the limit. So if you discover on the last day that you fail close to limit, you can’t say – eemhh..we will just run at 80%.

Better off knowing your critical break points early than later because earlier you can do soemthing about it


The teams would be mad not to try this at least once before the first practice session in Australia. But to get through with the test, if I was a team owner, I would try this on one of the last two days, probably the last one.

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