F1 Summer Break 2016
Rosberg on top with week’s fastest time as first Bahrain test ends
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Posted By: Justin Hynes  |  22 Feb 2014   |  4:43 pm GMT  |  231 comments

Nico Rosberg today brought the first Bahrain test to a close with a flourish, the Mercedes driver setting the week’s fastest time with a lap of 1:33.283.

The only driver to break the 1min 34s barrier, Rosberg’s time was set on soft tyres in the midst of a sequence of fast short runs. The German also racked up the most laps on day four of the test with 89 tours of the Sakhir circuit.

“We can be very pleased with the first test in Bahrain this week,” said Rosberg. “We completed a lot of mileage and learnt more about the car with every lap we achieved. This morning we were able to try some qualifying practice runs, which felt good, meaning I could attack the lap a bit as I found a good balance.

“Later in the day we did a race simulation, which was crucial to learn all the new things in the car,” he added. “There was a lot of feedback from the engineers, so my head was full of information! We suffered with an issue at the end of the day, which ended our programme slightly early. There is still some way to go for us to manage the reliability before Melbourne as this will play a huge factor in the early races, but we’re hopeful that we can make another step towards achieving this next week.”

As yesterday, Jenson Button was second quickest, with a lap of 1:34.957, during a 66-lap outing in the McLaren MP4-29, the Briton again underlining the Woking outfit’s solid start to the season.

Kimi Raikkonen was third for Ferrari, recording a lap of 1:36.718 on the soft tyre, just two tenths shy of team-mate Fernando Alonso’s best time of the week. Raikkonen also put in a healthy 82 laps before crashing out at turn four in the final minutes of the afternoon running.

Williams, meanwhile, gave a full day’s running to new recruit Felipe Nasr following the overnight news that the 21-year-old Brazilian has been appointed as Williams’ test driver. Nasr enjoyed a good outing, too, logging 87 trouble-free laps on his way to fourth on the timesheet with a time of 1:37.569.

Behind the top four, it was a tricky day for many others, with Red Bull Racing again suffering more than most.

Daniel Ricciardo only managed to complete his installation lap before a software issue saw the Australian restricted to the garage for most of the morning. He eventually emerged at the wheel of the RB10 shortly before lunchtime but with just 15 laps on the board was brought back to pit lane as yet another ‘mechanical issue’ caused damage to the rear of the car. The damage was such that Ricciardo failed to take to the track again, a miserable end to a frustrating week for the Australian who, following team-mate Sebastian Vettel’s 59-lap outing on day two, might have felt that the worst was behind the team.

Race Engineering Co-ordinator Andy Damerum later admitted the team has much to do ahead of next week’s final test in Bahrain. “It’s been a difficult week: we’ve made some very good progress, particular on day two, but we’ve also had a number of problems that have again held us back. The engineering team will head back to Milton Keynes now to plan the next moves and we can only look forward and try to get everything in place for T-03 here next week.”Jean-Eric Vergne of sister team Toro Rosso managed just four more laps than Ricciardo, his day being disrupted by what he called “a major problem on the engine side”.

At Caterham, Marcus Ericsson’s morning in the CT05 was cut to just four laps by an electrical problem. The team managed to fix the car in time to give Kamui Kobayashi 17 laps in the afternoon, though he finished almost 10 seconds off the pace set by Rosberg.
Of the Renault-powered team it was Lotus who enjoyed the best day. The E22 has been plagued by problems this week, but aside from minor issues which caused short delays to the team’s run plans, Pastor Maldonado was able to put in good mileage, completing 59 laps for fifth spot on the timesheet.

“Today was much better for us and we’ve been able to go through a lot of different aero assessments as well as mapping and settings work with the new drivetrain,” said Trackside Operations Director Alan Permane. “We did have a few glitches which stopped us but these were quickly rectified. We’re still very early on in our understanding of this car and we clearly have a lot of work to do, but today has been our most productive day so far.”

Force India encountered trouble as well, with Sergio Perez managing just 19 laps due to what Chief Operating Officer Otmar Szafnauer described as a “drivetrain issue”.

“Although we didn’t cover a large number of laps today, we were able to complete some aero work this morning and evaluate some more set-up items,” he said. “The programme was cut short by a drivetrain issue just before lunch, which confined us to the garage for the rest of the afternoon. With the amount of work involved in resolving the problem and the lack of time available, we decided it was better to regroup and put our efforts into achieving our objectives next week.”

As the second pre-season test closed it was abundantly clear that the Mercedes-powered teams are currently sitting pretty. Until late this week the hallmark of the company’s new power unit had been its impressive reliability. However, that has now been allied to impressive potency, with the five fastest times of the first four days in Bahrain going to Mercedes-powered cars.

Rosberg tops the list with his searing lap of 1:33.283 and he is followed by team-mate Lewis Hamilton, the McLarens of Kevin Magnussen and Jenson Button respectively – with those three in the 1min 23s bracket – and Nico Hulkenberg fifth for Force India.

Bahrain Test 1 – Day Four Times
1. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:33.283s 89 laps
2. Jenson Button McLaren 1:34.957s +1.674s 66 laps
3. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:36.718s +3.435s 82 laps
4. Felipe Nasr Williams 1:37.569s +4.286s 87 laps
5. Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:38.707s +5.424s 59 laps
6. Sergio Perez Force India 1:39.258s +5.975s 19 laps
7. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:39.837s +6.554s 15 laps
8. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:40.472s +7.189s 19 laps
9. Kamui Kobayashi Caterham 1:43.027s +9.744s 17 laps
10. Marcus Ericsson Caterham 1:45.094s +11.811s 4 laps
11. Jules Bianchi Marussia no time 5 laps
12. Adrian Sutil Sauber no time 5 laps

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231 comments

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1

Red Bull and Dan having reliability problems. Again. So what's new? It's almost becoming a cliche with Bull.

Jenson and Nico Ros fast and reliable bodes well, but there is more testing at Bahrain soon, but having said that in terms of mileage the lads and lasses at Merc and Macca have got plenty of data to pour over, which can only help them in fine tuning their beasts.

Felipe went well too, so Frank and Claire have got a solid baseline, which also bodes well for the Grove boys and girls.

I just went on BBC F1 website and watched Jenny Gow's excellent report, but in particular enjoyed listening to the new power units with their gruff, bassy guttural growl. Sounds a pretty decent soundtrack to me, and we haven't heard all 22 of them together yet!

2

I commented to a friend recently. - No longer the banshee howl, but the growl of a wildcat instead. Different but quite appealing!

3

Agree Richard. It's like swapping David Bowie or Mick Jagger's adenoidal nasal whine for Tom Jones guttural full bodied gravelly roar.

4

You're not paying attention, as every team has had reliability problems. Or maybe you're just seeing what you wish to see.

5

Having seen these lap times and all the problems I am concerned that there will be actually no racing at all at the beginning of the season. Cars, teams (even the first two or three) can be 1-2 sec per lap separated from each other and half of the teams or more not finishing at all. There is a good chance that the first races will be absolutely ridiculous.

6

I believ this year there will be more teams that can win a race (if not the championship). Williams, Sauber, McLaren, and even Force India can mix up in the lead with Mercedes and Ferrari.

7

It's not going to be that bad as at least all the Mercedes and Ferrari equiped machines will be racing. The likes of Red Bull are in frantic catch up mode and I fully expect it will be about five races before they start performing properly, but who knows really?

8

There will be racing, between Nico and Lewis.

1989 again?

9

1989 was 2 greats in the fastest car but these 2 drivers have been beaten by 2nd tier drivers like Webber and Button! hardly a 1989 repeat.

10

RE Dansus: Many times. There is more to modern day regulation F1 than raw speed, it does help not to crash into your opponents and take yourself out of the race.

Like Lewis running into Mark Singapore 2010, and Lewis running into Jenson Canada 2011.

Note to Lewis: stop crashing into your opponents.

11

When was Lewis beaten by Webber and Button on speed?

12

As long as they're closely matched...we need a real battle for the championship.

13
Alexander Supertramp

I'd prefer 88..

14

No reliability and huge lap time differences? Sounds just like the 'good old days'!

Makes you appreciate how relatively close the racing has been for quite a while.

15

Remember the 80s? It's going to be awesome! I just hope there is no nanny tactics from the FIA, like engine equalization. If you can't cut it, unlucky!

16

Just like in the good old 80s!! Can't wait.

17

If you look back in history you will find races where winning driver was minutes ahead of the runner up and people still look back on these with nostalgia. I'm too lazy to point out specifics right now but these gaps will come down as teams nick ideas off each other. Reliability comes with experience so after a few races it will be as you were and we will all be complaining again why Seb doesn't break down and allow others to win.

18

I can personally see a very very Mercedes dominated season coming up, its becoming clearer every day that theres only 2 teams in it at the moment...

19

Just as long as Redbull isn't one of those teams.

20

Well Mercedes did the job properly, and let's not forget Renault wanted this change. Perhaps as Pat Symonds said they hadn't really got the manpower to cope with it or perhaps they simply underestimated the resource requirements.

21

That's more than last year.

22

I literally can't wait for the first race of the season and not just because it's st Patricks weekend ;). It's when all the talking and bluff we get fed from the teams over testing becomes reality and we finally see who's were. To me it look like Mercedes, McLaren and Ferrari are the best 3 teams equipped to start the season well.

23

Yes Merc, Macca and Prancing Horse look good, I'd also add on Frank and Claire.

24

Interesting test to say the least!

Mercedes are clearly ahead of the game and could be by quite a margin. I somehow feel that we need to see a low fuel run by Ferrari, or at least I hope that. It seems to me they've been concentrating too much again on the basic stuff that were covered in Jerez and they are not making any progress pace wise.

I saw a kilometer counter for every team so far and that could well be the competitive order for the start of the year.

1. Mercedes

2. Mclaren

3. Ferrari or Williams

Still the Red Bull will be the most aerodynamically efficient car out there, so purely on pace, they still got what it takes I think.

This is all speculation off course and come Melbourne, we can be all surprised by the real peck order.

I look forward to an in depth analysis of this test based on facts of tyre type, road behaviour and maybe a fuel consideration.

25

The problem Red Bull face now they have to change the aero bit to improve the cooling of the PU so they will decrease the aero efficiency in the process to get the car working reliably and effectively. The difference is that Mercedes have worked up their designs simultaneously and so should be better placed initially. We still have one unknown to understand that being how the tyres will perform, but we understand they have gone conservative which will nullify the problems Merc had last year with race pace.

26

"Still the Red Bull will be the most aerodynamically efficient car out there, so purely on pace, they still got what it takes I think"

They have hardly run so why do you think they have the best aero? If the information leaking out regarding the Renault PU cooling requirements are close to true, the aero on all the Renault powered cars is going to be compromised in order to supply the cooling needs.

27

How on earth can you claim the RB has the best earodynamics?! There is no evidence to back such a claim - and even if there is some truth in it ... it is pointless being so if it means the car cannot survive a race distance.

How good will the earodynamics be after they have cut sufficient holes in it to keep the PU temps under control?

As always everything is about compromise. It is the best overall package that wins - not one that gets to the last lap way ahead of the others but cannot get any further.

28

Sure looks like Ross Braun had the rest of the stars lined up behind the silver star in terms of performance for the opening rounds of the season. Good on ye!

29

I'm glad you mentioned that because everything with Mercedes technically is what Ross Brawn put in place. I'm rather sorry he is not there topick up the acollades.

30

Wow what a day for Merc. If they can do a time that is less than a sec away from last years qualy in this test, imagine what that car can do in the next when they start chasing performance. This is them feeling super confident or playing mind games on others who are incapable of even stringing together slow laps. It could be that they are satisfied reliability wise and are now turning up the engine to full power and pushing, while all others are busy establishing reliability.

Anyway its going to be either an epic season or a period of total domination by mercedes.

31

Anyway its going to be either an epic season or a period of total domination by Mercedes...

Isn't that one and the same thing ? 😎

32

Sure, if you are a Merc supporter. While I welcome the change, but, do you want a repeat of 2011 or 2013 with a different team in place of red bull? I would like to see a season like 2012 with the championship hanging in balance till the last race.

33

Or like 2010, which not only also had the championship hanging until the last race; and there were actually some races worth watching!

34

Yup,what a day for Merc with number of red flags it caused,but hey " MUM " is the word.

Fact is,its not all Hunky Dory with Merc!

35

except we don't know that.

Every team deliberately causes a red flag during testing. They need to know at what point the car runs out of fuel - in terms of how much is still left in the system when the car stops.

36

Hamilton's move to Merc seems like a wise decision now.

37

Yes his move made perfect sense to me last year. But there were the so called experts who questioned his commitment and concluded it was for money and fame.

I will gladly support Hamilton this year. But don't discount Rosberg. He is a winner.

38

He certainly avoided McLaren's dip last year and will enjoy Mercedes supremecy at the start of this year.

39

It was a wise decision 12 months ago.

40

It Always was & not just because if Mercedes

41

Yea despite all those attacks.

42

I think it was a wise move anyways, if he wasn't getting what he wanted at Mclaren, he might as well try somewhere else. But just explaining to the public the transitional year of 2013 was hard after Mercedes came off the back of a woeful 2012. As was said in the Senna documentary, you don't see who's competitive now, you see who will be competitive next year

If Mercedes had the year they did last year without Hamilton and he were to join Mercedes this year....it'd still be news but he wouldn't have to go through the flak he did about jumping ship. He maintained that he joined Mercedes on the expectations of 2014. That laid the marker down for everyone to do the best job they could to save themselves in front of the public, board members and of course hamilton himself.

43

Ham was vastly underestimated in his 1st year at Mclaren where he should have been champion.same is on his 2nd year when he was champion.underestimated a great hungry ,young champion.Now he is no longer motivated or hungry he is finished.

Red jets,singing,dogs,girlfriends are his concerns.

he clearly said it when leaving Mc laren,he needed more time to live;period.

2014 Rosberg will finish him up.and remember please I am or rather was a Hamilton fan

44

The McLaren is looking handy and has the same PU. At least he missed driving that truck they produced last year.

45

Indeed. The might of Mercedes flexing their muscles. Ham has a great chance to get that 2nd title

46

Yes @han78 Hamilton is totaly washed up, I mean he turned up at Merc last season racing against Rosberg who had been with the team 3 yrs and he BEAT HIM!!

ARGGGGGGGGGGG!!!!!!

47

Anyone know who else did any qualifying runs?

48

Have you seen how much weight Hamilton has lost? Pretty sure he's fairly motivated. Maybe if Mclaren had built a fast and reliable car rather than fast and fragile he would already have his 2nd

49

Hamilton will get nothing at all.Hamilton is a has been at best now.and believe me I was a Hmilton fan.I do not care for Rosberg at all but Rosberg is today a much better driver than Hamilton.Hamilton is too busy with his Rapper thing,red jet,dogs;girlfriend etc these days to fully concentrate on F1.Rosberg on the other hand is all business and has made progress every year since joining mercedes benz.He is the 2014 champion dixit "Bernie the bad guy ecclestone" who rarely get it wrong to spot the champion.

50

...of course he does, he's in what looks like the best car...

51

U think? All the so called experts that were down on his move to Merc must feel like idiots right now.

52

I think that was established last season, but I think many people were hoping Hamilton would crash and burn.

53

Rosberg finishing the week on top. Just as I predicted for that competition you were running James. Unfortunately, I spent so long writing a novel of an answer, I believe I may have missed out by a few minutes. Haha, I should learn to keep these posts shorter but can't stop typing sometimes.

54

I'm beginning to think that Rosberg reads this blog and the comments section. He ditched the silly-looking neon yellow helmet, and now he's ditched the equally absurd neon yellow gloves! No confirmation if his shoes are still yellow, but step by step he's looking more like a racer.

55

Wasn't he given the yellow gloves/shoes to contrast the red Schumacher wore?

56

Not sure about that, but they were hideous.

Saw a pic last week of Lewis, and his shoes were white, like his Mercedes overalls. C'mon dudes ... black shoes!

Have to say the Force India overalls look ok from the top down, to the waist. Then it's as though someone spilled the orange paint all over the place after that.

57

Anyway, moving on.... Big, big day for the Mercs today. They have set out their stall.... and its a mighty fine stall at that. I just hope that the rest of the field can catch up before the title is out of reach. Mercedes appear to be a long way up the road right now.

I wonder what Ross Brawn is thinking about this Mercedes performance. A mixture of pride and perhaps a twinge of regret.... he could have secured his legacy with a dominant 2014 at the helm of Mercedes, proving 2009 wasn't a one off. He is the man to have in times of change.

58

I can't help but feel Ross decided to step aside and allow the new team take the glory but beaming with pride even while far away on some remote river or lake.

Granted part of the success story that is Mercedes' reliability and performance, is the engine, but you can't deny the fact that the chassis appears to be working in harmony.

59

That's what Ross does, he's an orchestrator a deployer of resources

The engine people at Brixworth deserve a lot of the credit though. They invested earlier than others and have got the preparation right

I had a clear sense of that last year in the build up to 2014

60

Exactly Ross Brawn knew the requirement and put it all in place to allow Mercedes to move forward. Still a pity he is not there, but of course there are many other talents in design and engineering that have helped make this car what it is.

61

I'm still upset about his departure from Merc. Let's hope they won't be regretting this move when things get rough.

62

well said James, totally agree.

63

I think he knows that the F1 knows that some of the Brawn magic has found its way into the 2014 Mercedes although I suspect most of the Merc advantage is purely down to engine (which is the way motor racing should be).

64

Raikkonen says he lost control of the car because of high torque. I think we are going to see a lot of drivers crashing into each other this year. The cars that are reliable and drivers who can avoid Maldonado and co will emerge as champions.

65

Oh I just saw some videos from day 3 testing. Raikkonen's ferrari was sliding like a kart at the turns. very less rear grip on that car. Jenson button did the same corner smoothly.

66

Some of that is down to driving style. Raikkonenn is well known as a guy who likes to plant the nose in the corner and use the rear end to steer the car. Button is someone who takes very traditional racing lines with wide arcs and smooth brake and throttle applications.

67

Or Ferrari drove with less wing in the car. So I gathered from some tweets during the test.

68

@Fada

Yeah, just throwing that out there.

69

I think that has more to do with Torque delivery.

70

Oh dear, Redbull are really in a mess. Only 15 laps today with 3 wks to go before the first race. Maybe we really are going to get a new Champion this year. Webber did a great job holding that team together and now that he is gone, everything is falling apart!

71

Well I bloody well hope so, and I suspect the situation has raised a smile in the Webber camp.Oddly enough I think this years car would have suited Webber perhaps more than Vettel.

72

Because it is as bad as he was?

73

He was the older driver whom the car did not suit. Vettel being younger was more able to adapt.

74

Mercedes (and by extension their customer teams) can't get too happy about things. It's all well and good doing that much mileage, but they have only 5 power units to use this year, not the usual 8. If it doesn't hit them one way it's entirely possible they can be hit another way.

75

But at least they have been able to do long runs. This leaves them better prepared than the renault teams in a hundred different ways. I agree though - no one should be cocky, to finish first, first you have to finish and all that. I would also add for the renault teams that to finish at all you first need to be capable of starting!

76

what has these problems ( renault powerunit + aggressive pakaging ) to do with webber departure ??? how everything fallin apart as problems are faced by all the renault powercar

please eloborate 😛

77

This my friend is shaping up to be one hell of Season! With renult Car's struggling and double points last race,wow! That's a film script for a blockbuster movie right there. Planned by bernie? Is he really that clever?

78

Yes. 😉

79

Cliffhanger for next year is Honda-Mclaren 😀 !!!

80

Pretty eventful day that had it all, red flags, reliability woes and even a crash at the end by Kimi.

After the second winter test, the form guide is becoming a little bit clearer with Mercedes, followed by Ferrari then Mclaren and perhaps Williams then Force India in that order.

Don't know were the Renault cars rank in the pecking order at the moment for it's a shame that they are still struggling but perhaps the hot conditions at Bahrain are also playing their part in the saga.

As things stand, we shall have two championship fights in 2014. One between the Mercedes engines and Ferrari which will be a fight about speed then the other battle will be between the Renault cars as they try to outdo themselves in the reliability stakes.

Anyway, encouraging performance from the newbie at Williams and the fact that Nasr was given this opportunity to test and not wait for the official young driver's test, I guess he's the plan B should any of the Williams drivers falter.

Overall, it's becoming apparent that the sport will need the double points races at the end of the season as it appears some people will arrive late at the party.

81

all nonsense drivel. how do you put ferrari ahead of mclaren? Double points will be needed? Why? They arrive late they lose...

82

@ pcoops

Why I think Ferrari is stronger is because unlike Mclaren they haven't set a time on the supersofts

83
Alexander Supertramp

Mclaren look stronger than Ferrari to me at this point..

84

@ Alexander Supertramp

I suspect Ferrari are stronger than Mclaren because unlike Mclaren, they haven't tried their supersoft tyres.

It's like they're keeping a card for a rainy day.

85
Alexander Supertramp

Well Ferrari has not been about pure pace for some times now, but they tend to be amazing on sundays. I'll be looking forward to the results of the race simulations, hope James writes a piece. But those race simulations could indeed suggest that Ferrari is ahead of Mclaren.

86

For everyone saying how unpredictable the new rules have made Formula 1, the team that everyone has been predicting for about 18 months to be the frontrunners looks to be the team to beat.

87

I'm SERIOUSLY worried about this season. It looks like it's going to be an absolute farce.

I know we can't read everything into the times, but the huge gaps between each of them is alarming.

F1 might not recover from this if the season goes the way my nightmares are seeing it...

88

Before we had races lead by aerodynancists, now it's by powertain designers. Some people have done the job properly others haven't so no more to be said really.

89

The only 2014 F1 nightmares I'm having involve the Caterham's nose 🙂

It's not going to be like the last few years with every separated by a tenth or two, but I don't think that's a bad thing.

Sit back, enjoy the ride, and if it does turn out to be awful / boring / a farce then hey! : Situation normal 🙂

90

Keep doodling mate you clearly haven't bees following F1 for long.

91

agree doodles - at melbourne we will probably see the retirement of both cars from RB,TR,Lotus and Caterham plus a few others.

so maybe 10+ retirements and cars seperated by big margins. So far we haven't seen what is in pirelli's bag of tricks but there's bound to be some controversy.

this scenario hasn't been seen in F1 since the 1950's.

F1 is a sport out of control.

92

You raise a brilliant point and the best thing about the 2014 regulations yet - Pirelli haven't even got a mention.

93

for FARCE read best racing for many years...

94

Don't be worried, this will be real F1, like back in the 80s. When engine manufacturers ruled, and drinks companies were just drinks companies.

95

I'm not so sure this is going to be an issue, I will not be surprised if we end up with the top teams within tents of each other come qualifying

96

Me too, I'd be happy for Mercedes/McLaren to win, but at this rate they'll be lapping all the Renault engined cars by lap 10.

97

But you know, this is only testing, the reliable teams now may yet hit reliability issues during the races.

On the surface, the team already condemned to last place appears to be Caterham, but then again, where is the certainty.

98

It'll be fantastic except for the danger of the fuel restriction killing actual racing.

McLaren v Mercedes v Ferrari v Williams for the points positions will make at lease qualifying and the first 10 laps of the race interesting.

For for those of us in late night viewing zones at least we'll be able to go to bed an hour into the race.

99

If you read the article it says that Rosberg was trying qualifying times, other teams were just in race simulation or collecting aero data, look the Ferrari photo with that big aero sensor (if that is the name of that) on top of the car. I'm not expecting a 2009 revival.

100
Alexander Supertramp

Still, my gut tells me no team can match Merc's quali pace just yet. Still, I feel Mclaren still have to show their hand.

101

Shouldn't be paying much attention into times at all. They're all doing different things. Many I expect have hardly started true performance work; especially the Renault engines, which aren't even able to have their potential anyway near turned to the max.

Of course it's clear that the likes of Mercedes (most of all), McLaren and Ferrari look to be in good shape in terms of being able to achieve a decent test schedule. The rest though is all hyperbole for now.

Remember after the first test and commentators were writing about the great fear of the cars being far too slow? In reality the teams had no interest in speed and now that they're ramping up performance and are within a couple of seconds, that talk has died away... Andrew Benson especially loves such commentary!

Anyway, I'm taking a very broad view of the testing analysis. However I am expecting a much more spread out grid. The main thing I've taken away is the talk of Mercedes (from the likes of Button, etc). I think I'm going to put some money on Hamilton and Rosberg while the odds are good!

Finally, if you're shocked at a potential field spread of many seconds, you should try looking back to F1 in the 1990s and earlier!!!

102

There have been seasons before when one team has dominated and F1 has certainly recovered! Don't get me wrong- I would love to see a season with 3 or 4 top teams competing, but even if Merc dominates it could be a great battle between Rosberg and Hamilton and still be an exciting season. Look at the 87 and 88 seasons. Both years only one team really in it and yet classic seasons both.

It is the years that one team and one driver dominates that are worst- particularly if the team mate is not allowed to or not capable of competing.

103

It does look a bit concerning at the moment but the FIA will allow renault to tweak there power unit to at least make it reliable. If it becomes a powerful as mercedes and Ferrari is yet to be seen. Catherham has managed reasonable mileage but at slow speed and I think we will see this for the first few races at least

104

Yes it's clear that Mercedes are working towards improved performance with a scintillating lap from Rosberg whilst moving along the final furlong to achieve a high level of reliability. I did think as Rosberg did these laps that he was in qualifying mode with very low fuel, and that will have given the other teams an understanding of where Mercedes are and what they have to beat. It seems that the top three are Mercedes, McLaren, and Ferrari, but we have not seen the final updates yet so things could change.

105

Mercedes it is then, Melbourne will see Renault powered cars failing to make out of Q1 and Q2, quite pathetic tbh at least the Hamilton fans should be happy.

106

This must be very painful for u Tealeaf? We all know how much u dislike Hamilton!!!

107

Make a change from the Vettel fans I suppose, but Merc have done the job properly, Renault/Red Bull haven't. Not much more to say really!

108

Think RB will make it into top 6, but doubt they will finish the race.

109

Coz everything is about Hamilton right?

110

There are 8 drivers in Merc powered cars, some of them are quick while others are steady. Whichever way the racing goes this season there will be real competition. Even if the Merc is miles ahead Hamilton still has to beat the new and improved Rosberg.

111

at least the Hamilton fans should be happy...

What are you worrying about? You have told us on countless occasions that it's not the car, but Vettel who is the star. Do you remember when you said Vettel could even win in a Marussia? Well it looks like we might will get a chance to see if you are right.

I can't wait;-)

112

I think this could be Hamilton's year finally. As well as what's almost certainly going to be the best engine, Mercedes look to have a very good chassis, and I think the traits of these cars will suit him a treat as it's all about controlling oversteer.

113

Was it also pathetic when Vettel won the last 9 races?

114

Agree with your comments Tealeaf, but Nico Ros could be a factor. Very interesting inter-team battle between Lewis and Nico brewing............could get personal if championship is at stake! Then we'll see how matey the two Merc drivers are!

115

I hope Ferrari have more pace than what they have shown. If not, the title will be Mercedes' or McLaren's. Both Merc and Ferrari have issues:

From BBC:

"Watching from trackside, an engineer from a rival team said fuel was getting into the exhaust on both the works car and the Ferrari-engined Sauber, causing it to misfire. It is a new problem - it was not happening at the first test in Jerez.": Ferrari's efficiency will be bad and they have some work to do.

Mercedes had its fair number of stoppages too.

Only McLaren does not have any publicly known issues.

116

Lewis did an interview where he explained Merc had moved on to set up work and were deliberately stressing the car in order to identify weaknesses so no surprises they had a few glitches.

117

Wow the merc is less than a second off 2013 qually pace set on similar tyre (13 med ) given the compound is harder this year. Forget these cars being slower they will be massively quicker soon, just as soon as teams get on top of the lost DF, who knows they may even catch the old V10 lap times in a few years...mega excited for season to start now

118

Yes with the updates due between now and Melbourne it's likely they may close that gap even more, and as downforce improves throughout the season they may exceed last year.

119

I support that idea. I think if Mercedes had fit the super softs and pushed a little harder they would have beaten last years qualy time today. Imagine what the times will be if they start developing the car and find down force.

I dont care about the sound. I think for the TV audiences like me its not going to be a factor as broadcasters can adjust the sound levels. But these cars are going to be massively quick. If only they could work on the looks next year.

120

While these cars will be slower around the bends because they lack downforce, they do have higher torque and providing they don't wheel spin they will accelerate faster out of corners and along the straights. - Swings and roundabouts as they say!

121

Pirelli bought the hard and medium tyres to the 2013 race, so it's no surprise that times on the soft/supersoft are looking impressive in comparison.

122

Rosberg said that he made a mistake and as a result didn't get the most from the final new set of softs and that 3/10ths of improvement went right there

123

Lewis Hamilton WDC 2014!

124

I hope so, but a lot can happen during the season, and I would not discount Nico Rosberg who has been grossly underestimated in the past. While I think perhaps Lewis is a bit faster, Nico is also very good and a solidly performing driver.

125

Or possibly Nico.

I'm hoping at least for a close fight between the two of them. It may be the only championship interest this season.

I'm a Brit, so I'm hoping that Lewis will finish on top.

126

Rosberg has covered more mileage and is getting to know the car much better when we talk Mercedes. But I believe Mclaren have a very fast and reliable car. Button's 3 lap in Jerez was already the fastest, Magnussen was easily finding the lap times, and this was without any setup work.

This season is wide open

127

+1 But I really wouldn't discount Rosberg. He's a dark horse. Plus he currently has amazing odds for what's looking to be such a good car.

128

nico's been quicker

129

He run on fumes, while Lewis had more fuel . Both run different enginecovers & other parts, too. IMo Lewis time was a better comparison of Mercedes speed comared to McLaren & co as he made the same number of laps as button when both run on sofe tyres.

130

If he does, it won't be because of being the best driver. I've got a feeling that Rosberg is more motivated and will therefore beat Hamilton. Alonso's going to have trouble keeping his toys in his pram, and Vettels obviously got a bad car. The WDC battle will be Kimi vs Ros (vs Ham)

131

Vettel's got a bad powertrain though the car may be good!

132

@ greg

Good notion and story.

You already started to demean alonso here we have not even had 1 competitive session into the season yet.

Watch this space kimi will not be a factor in this year WDC irrespective of the car's pace. Kimi will be chastened by alonso.

On a serious note ferrari have their work cut out already to play catch up with faster Mercedes & McLaren. I want alonso to win the WDC in 2014. Yet i will be elated even if lewis wins.

Go lewis and bag the 2014 WDC

133

"kimi will not be a factor in this year WDC irrespective of the car’s pace"

Agree to this. It must be painful for Kimi fans to see him spin and wreck the car Sutil style.

134

"If he does, it won’t be because of being the best driver."

It's like you've described the last 4 years...

135

Only one second off his 2013 quali pace and it's still only early days yet.

Those who were worried about the pace of the 2014 cars, worry no more 😉

136

Well, no need to worry if you're a Mercedes fan 😀

137

Well, unless your favorite team is running Renault engines. 🙂

138

I'm one of those fortunate ones that don't actually have a favourite team, although I admit I have a soft spot for some more than others 🙂

139

Mercedes has nothing or little to worry about. All the others however will be playing catch up.Or so it seems.If I could I would call Newey to ask him what his Plan B is.

140

As ever Random, you're spot on. All the whining about slow cars sounding awful are a nonsense. It is still Formula 1, it's just the emperor has new clothes.

141

Yes, funny looking new clothes but who am I to question fashion? 🙂

142

I have a question: There will be many changes that Renault will have planned to make for their engines (could be Ferrari/Merc too). So how will they go about making these changes and delivering it to customers given that they cannot keep making engines with different combinations of changes every time? How do you arrive at that sweet-spot which will be some optimization of different parameters but at the same time not having to go through manufacturing hundreds of engines with different configurations to be tested by the customers? I guess simulation and dyno are options to minimize physical testing. But at some point they have to make a decision and actually manufacture the engine and test it in a car and again if needed make some changes again and test it again. Imagine with 4 teams as customers, limited testing and required fast manufacturing time, it becomes that much harder. No wonder you will see some weeks/months go by to get to that sweet-spot.

143
Alexander Supertramp

I can't imagine the winner of the Australian GP to not be a Mercedes/Ferrari/Mclaren driver..

Mercedes look to be the frontrunners, but I have a feeling Mclaren might be much closer than some people think.

Red Bull are definitely playing catch up, big time. Still, they have bested the field in the past in the development department and the season is very, very long. Red Bull look set for a serious points deficit after the first 4 flyaway races. Their best hope is for the frontrunners to take points off each other.

144

It's nice to see the two best looking cars topping the times. For next week I really hope we can see some of the other teams turn the wick up and go for times, would be nice to get some sort of picture for the season beyond who's going to struggle to make the finish lune in Oz.

145

Kind of off topic, but I was wondering if the political turmoil in Venezuela might have any impact on Maldanado and his sponsorship deal with Lotus. From news reports it sounds like the socialist government is on the brink of collapse and I understand PDVSA is state owned. Is Pastor's ride contingent on sponsorship and could he be replaced if the cash doesn't come through?

146

How would anyody here know?

147

Question James: what is the expectation among tech people in the paddock?

Will these new cars (lower df, higher torque) easily go full throttle through Eau Rouge? Or will it be super tricky like in the old days?

148

I think by Spa they'll have increase downforce levels significantly

149

Yeah tracks with many sweeping high speed turns are going to paint the real picture about speed difference between 2013 & 2014. No I don't think this year's are slow at all, not a fear I have, but there will be a gap at places like Suzuka. Power not the issue but downforce is. The straights at some tracks will mask some speed difference on corners. Still, can't wait for this season to get underway.

150

And 130R

151

Good question! There's a lot less downforce now

152

James, is their any chance Redbull can be sandbagging?

153

Lets let the car catch on fire and do 15 laps per day while our opponents rack up 100. That will fool them

155

Hi James, am interested in your views about Ferrari not attempting a qualifying simulation and Mercedes pretty much trying it.

It is winter testing and we always like to remind each other but usually not trying a qualifying simulation would mean two things, a) the team is not yet prepared and is working on other "issues" or b) they have a pretty good idea of where they are and don't want to waste time nor show their hand.

What would be your guess?

Thanks.

156

I think Ferrari is pleased with reliability but not there yet on set up and performance parts

Merc got there earlier than others but Ferrari will do it in Test 2 at Bahrain.

157

James how do you confess that Ferrari will get it right at test 2 in Bahrain ?

Have ferrari planned for any updates already on Bahrain for test 2 to play catch up with faster Mercedes & McLaren? Any insight on this?

The current order seems like this. Mercedes. McLaren and Ferrari in distant third with williams behind them. My prediction is little premature. Yet i believe this could be the pattern for few races at least to start with

158

I'm not saying they will get it right in Test 2, merely that this is where the definitive bodywork will arrive and they plan to do set up work. In that they are now a little behind Mercedes

159

James haven't Ferrari already gone faster in a straight line than last years cars at this track?

i think we will be pleasantly surprised at Ferrari's pace at the end of testing,

i am looking forward to this years racing,

cant wait to see finger boy lapped before the end of each race.

160

Don't get my hopes up. But, just thinking about that possibility would make my year.

161

Two teams on it??

It's a 100% better than the last four years... 😉

Wait, these two teams are Mercedes and Ferrari??

It will be the best season ever, as we should have four top drivers fighting for the title!!! 😉

Very different from Vettel vs.... well, how could he be four times champion if he had an opponent?

I mean, don't get me wrong... but who can get 4 in a row with competition? 😉

162

No mate

It's between Mercedes and McLaren. The test barbs from jerez and Bahrain confirms that mercedes have a very fast car with McLaren right behind them. Ferrari are not there yet. A customary third row is what they will achieve come melbourne. Williams and force looks good for fourth and fifth row.

Jenson have a chance this year to fight for WDC with Mercedes pilots and impressive kevin.

My hunch says lewis will bag the WDC in 2014

163

I can see nico beating lewis this year, he's fast and extremely intelligent (I'm not saying lewis isn't smart) so I can imagine him getting more out of the car, prost like.

164
Alexander Supertramp

Nico's test stats look better than Lewis'. Still, we are talking about Lewis, right?

I'll be looking out for the results of their respective race sims. They are both quick in quali, those race simulations should give a first expectation of what to expect from them in Australia.

165

IMO Lewis will have an advantage with the cars sliding more and are more difficult to drive.

166

What an amazing season in front of us! wow! Of course Mercedes and McLaren seems to be widely ahead of the rest but lets see what will be the reliability. Renault powered team will be in dangerous situtation in melbourne.

167

Williams puts a rookie in the car and finishes 4th

168
Alexander Supertramp

A) the rookie is amazing

B) the car is amazing

C) This shows how little you should read into testing times.

I'm going with C..

169

It's becoming pretty obvious Mercedes will dominate this season. At least the first part. Hamilton on pole for Oz

170

Three test completed and Mercedes power is at the top of the tree! Probably the most noticeable thing for me is that the two teams, Mercedes & McLaren for one reason or another chose to get rid of their Team Principles. For Ross Brawn, the systems and procedures he put in place appear to be working. In the case of Martin Whitmarsh, no-one can deny that he oversaw a dog of a car in 2013, the question is, will he get any credit for overseeing what appears to be a solid, if not spectacular 2014 car? Surely there will be a touch of irony down the pitlane if Mercedes or McLaren win one or both of the titles on offer.

171

Finally feel very elated to see the RBR struggles this season. RBR have had it too easy for the last gew seasons

Atleast the 2014 pre-season barbs this season WDC will be between Mercedes and McLaren. Lewis gets his chance to bag the WDC in 2014. Go Lewis.

Ferrari are still not there which is a big worry. Hope Ferrari will improve and give Fernando / kimi a car which is worthy of their skills.

172

"This morning we were able to try some qualifying practice runs"... Does anyone know if this was their first time they tried qualy runs or they maybe also did it with Lewis at 3rd. day of test /friday)??

tnx in advance

173
Alexander Supertramp

I don't know, but I think he was. I know he didn't get a chance to do his race simulation, he will do it next week.

174

LH said he did no qualy runs and no race sim until now, he is looking foreward to do it next week

175

It's going to be interesting to see how the drivers manage the fuel in the races, 100 litres is not that much! Just as well we are not racing at Imola this season ))

P.S. Don't forget about Force India...a certain Mr Hulkenburg didn't go there for no reason )

176

100 kilos isn't it?

177

what people are seeing emerge are possible quality lap times but no one is seeing just what the fuel gauges are saying? until races have been completed it would seem to be fanciful to suggest that they will be in any way totally related to those race times of the past. i am still sceptical and believe that we will not be seeing drivers pushing hard for the entire race but driving to deltas enabling them to cross the line.

hembery claims that the tyres wont be a rerun of the last couple of years and maybe he is right. we may be entering a new phase of race limitation with the fuel restrictions being so draconian.

178

It's still hard to know outright Pace at Testing mind. Which Teams might be Sandbagging and what are the Fuel Loads? While Red Bulls woes hint at Reliability Problems, doesn't mean the RB10 is not a fast Car, though if it can't complete Race Difference, I guess it won't matter much! But until Qualifying in Australia, and then the Light going out on Race, we just won't know who is in the Best Shape.

179

Now what is going to be interesting is if merc is the faster car will who come out on top: super fast but erratic and emotional Hamilton or cerebral, savy and technical Rosberg? It will be interesting!

180

If they're even or close to even on the reliability stakes, then Hamilton should beat out Rosberg over a season.

I guess we'll see how much different a driving style/strategy will be needed for this season, in the first few races, and then we'll have a better idea.

181

If Hamilton had had the reliability problem Rosberg had last season, many of you guys would blame it on Hamilton directly insinuating that he cannot manage his car blah blah blah.

182

It's a tiresome and specious theory trotted out at times against Hamilton. It's just silly.

The lengths (and depths) that some will go to malign the guy still boggles my mind.

183

doe that mean you wish hamilton was more erratic than robberg and rosberg was more savy than hamilton?

we found out which one of them finished higher than the other in 2013 and am sure we'll find out who finishes higher than the other in 2014 as well. it is not easy to fool nature.

184
Alexander Supertramp

Nico has not been less erratic than Lewis last year.. The balance between them has shifted all year.

Besides, last time Lewis had a fast car he was pretty great himself, i.e. 2012. He's pretty emotional yeah, nothing gets him more emotional/motivated than knowing he can actually fight for the championship. Nico will have to be amazing to beat Lewis.

185

Very naive to take much conclusion from testing. Only Oz quali will tell the season's start pecking order. Even that doesn't guarant any conclusion as teams can iron out their issues and cath up.

I like Nico but how he become savy, technical, cerebral than Ham is beyond me. I would be happy if he is but his records doesn't support that.

James, why is some section of 'fans' repeatedly tried to put a tag on Hamilton that he is less intelegent, lacks technical know how, only drive fast by instinct etc as portrayed in the above comment.

The fact which I know from watching races is that he can adapt to the problems like many and pull the most out of his car. There are other drivers that don't perform unless the car is to their liking.

He is also the guy, at his rooky season, outperform a double champion (one may disagree by going into the detail of 2007 but I mean at least using the result table). I didn't see any better savvieness or technical skill Ros has more than ham but I may agree if you say, lets say Alo.

How a cerebral, technical, genius etc guy is beaten by erratic driver in the same machinery is BAFFLING!!!

I would love if someone give me some honest explanation if I don't know something.

Cheers

186

What a fascinating off season this has been. Can't wait for this season. McLaren seem to be right back on form, Mercedes seems to be very fast maybe with a few issues, both Ferrari and Williams seem to be there or thereabouts and Red Bull have big problems. This could be a scintillating season. Just shame about those stupid noses! The FIA need to ensure they don't make any silly decisions in season which favour a particular team like what they did with the tyres and Red Bull last year.

187

Hello James,

I have done my own quick analysis of the speed and reliability on the face of what most people see, and the same four teams keep coming up as being the best in terms of speed and reliability in both Jerez and the 1st Bahrain test.

They are: Mercedes, McLaren, Ferrari, and Williams. They seem to be the teams that are closest to the mark. The Mercedes does seem to be very fast, scary fast, and rumours that the Mercedes car might be faster than last year's car might well be spot on.

However, the same cannot be said for the Renault teams, particularly Red Bull and Lotus. They seem to lack reliability and speed, and if it wasn't for Marussia, they would be at the back of the field if a race was held today in dry conditions.

I wouldn't write them off in turning the ship around, but it appears clearer by the day that Vettel won't have a realistic chance of winning a fifth straight world championship, which is disappointing.

What do you think James?

188

I think Merc is ahead and there are several strong contenders just behind. Over a season stretching to November and with double points available at the last race much can change.

If Mercedes start the first half season as Button and Brawn did in 2009 then they will win the title, but I can see Red Bull being strong in the second half. They are the only team in trouble now that has the limitless resources to fix it and catch up

You need 100s of engineers deployed on specific problems to sort it and they have that

189

I still can't believe F1 is going ahead with this double points scenario. It's comical at best.

190

interesting james, we saw how mclaren coped with all their resources in 2013. unless we know exactly what their problem is, it's quite a challenge to preempt how they'll find the solution. even they thought they'd found the solution until saturday. i do hope they can all sort out their cars for melbourne for a tight championship.

191

That was an infrastructure issue and a major aero flaw

This is a packaging issue around a troublesome engine

192

100reds of engineers will help nothing if RBR ( or the other Renault powered teams) will blow some engines at the strat of the season. The penaltys they will get therefore, will ruin the 2nd half of the year.

193

True enough James, but don't forget engines are homolgated soon, so if Renault do have issues - and I'm assuming they do - it'll take a huge amount of brainstorming and engineering clout to leap frog Mercedes, but as you rightly point out both Regie and Bull do have both manpower and resources so we shall see.

194

Button out qualified again....always far slower than his team mates yet still coomands huge salaries and seems to still held in high regard by only the British press these days....surely time to admit he has never been that good or quick...excl Brawn as that was car over driver...

195

Few things,

1. It's testing, not qualifying.

2. 0.047 seconds is hardly what I would call 'far slower'.

3. Button, like the rest of the actual experts of F1, have realized something that you and the rest of the Button haters are still struggling with - that points are awarded on Sunday after the race and not Saturday after qualifying.

4. Alonso is also a bad qualifier. Are you going to tell us that he is also not a good F1 driver because of his one lap pace?

196

@ Bob

What makes you to say "Alonso is also a bad qualifier" ?

Ant has made comparison between the mclaren drivers. Why on earth you tilled alonso into this topic and stated your notion?

Do you try to compare jenson with Alonso by stating "Alonso is also a bad qualifier" ? If so that is clear drivel i have ever read or heard.

Wake up and do not be in the wonderland. You cannot compare apples with oranges. Alonso's aristocracy level is miles higher than Jenson.

Finally Kevin does look impressive and may very well easily out-qualify jenson in the long season. Even perez managed to outpace jenson easily in 2013

197

@ Bob

I have nothing against Jenson, In fact i like jenson.

Jenson is a good pilot, he is serene and steady performer always. I repeat this i do not have any resentment against Jenson. He fared much better against lewis than the expectation.

However between perez and jenson. Yes perez matched jenson for pace. Perez was new to the Mclaren team and with difficult Car to drive in 2013. Perez fared much better against jenson when most people thought otherwise. Yes jenson finished ahead in WDC standings. Perez was too erratic though.

I agree with you WDC standings and points matter the most than Quali results. Even if we go by this logic Alonso have done well against his former team-mates in terms of quali as well as WDC standings or points.

"It is common knowledge that Alonso is not a very good qualifier. I didn’t make it up – do some research" ? This is clear Myth and a complete drivel to me. How do you conclude or arrive at this assessment ?

What research i need to do ? Alonso have done stellar job ever since he entered the F1 scene with Minardi to till date.

Ferrari never produced a top car ever since 2009-2013. Despite this Alonso managed to put the car on pole 4 times between 10-13. In 2012 Alonso did a brilliant job to put the car on pole 2 times in a very fickle weather conditions as well. Alonso have done a stellar and magical job for Ferrari over the past 4 seasons.

I believe Single lap or timed lap is much easier to do than a full race distance with heavier fuel and post decent lap-times consistently.

The connection which you try to make between Alonso & Jenson just on the basis of Quali is not accurate mate. Ok If jenson and Alonso are in the same team (Assume) who will prevail in the quali?

198

@Krischar

It is common knowledge that Alonso is not a very good qualifier. I didn't make it up - do some research.

@ant specifically mentioned that Button was 'out qualified'. Many other Button haters also use Button's qualifying performances to somehow prove that he's not a good driver.

My point was that Alonso, just like Button, is not a great qualifier, yet it's never held against Alonso like people hold it against Button.

Once again, even you have pointed out that Perez managed to 'outpace' Jenson in 2013. How is this relevant? If this was the Formula 1 World Qualifying Championships, then it might be relevant. But considering that most F1 GP's are usually slightly longer than 1 lap on low fuel, it's completely irrelevant.

Yes, Perez out qualified Button, but how did he do in the Championship compared to Button. You know, the Championship - the ACTUAL thing that matters.

It just like when Button was team mates with Hamilton. Hamilton SMASHED Button in qualifying, yet who finished on the podium more? I'll tell you who - it was Button.

So, for the sake of my sanity, please explain how single lap low fuel runs determine who the best driver is when the only way to win the Championship is by winning and scoring in races that consist of 50+ laps with full fuel loads?

199

calm down, krischar, the point is that you can't judge a f1 driver purely on qualifying results.

200

James, how do you consider the situation of Ferrari engine teams except Scuderia Ferrari? Seems it's difficult for Sauber and Marussia in term of reliability...

201

So far yes, but they are also among the less well funded teams.

Ferrari, like Mercedes, has an advantage of building its engine and thus designing both chassis and engine around each other…

They have also spent a fortune on it...

202

Hi James - thanks as ever for such an informative website!

I'm interested in comparisons between the 2014 cars vs the 2013 ones;

- which circuits do you think that the 2014 cars could be faster than last year?

- if they have to keep the same gear ratios for the whole season,how could this affect the drivers around more unusual circuits like monaco or monza?

Hopefully McLaren and Ferrari etc aren't too far away from Mercedes in performance and can compete - the new technology is fascinating!

203

Thanks for the questions. I'll get back to you on 1. Clearly the ones where the straights are important to lap time!

as for 2. they have gone this route because the engines produce so much torque they can pull out of hairpins in 3rd or 4th gear !

So they don't need all the fine tuning of gear ratios. So it won't be a problem at all

204

If they can pull out of hairpins n 3rd or 4th gear. Will they make the ratios longer. So last year's 4th gear is this year's 2nd?

205
Darrin from Canada

So much for the idea that F1 has no impact on consumer road cars... This all sounds directly relevant. I can't wait to see what my new 2019 Mercedes will be like! (I promise to start saving for it soon)

206

Susie Wolff must be gutted to see Felipe Nasr drive. And I frankly don't understand it either. If Williams want (and need to) to correlate simulator and the real world, they should make sure their development driver knows what the real thing drives like. Unless, however, Susie is already sacked but no one admitted that yet.

207

Why is everyone going on about rosberg beating hamilton. It is wishful thinking and poppy cock. Ok he is fast but who said he was smart. Its the power of suggestion all over again. The bottom line is hamilton beat him in his 1st year in an unfamiliar car. Now they both start from scratch.

Hamilton would have won silverstone too if it were not for the puncture. Hamilton beat button who everyone said was like prost. Hamilton is not worried about rosberg. He respects him a d a knowledges he will push him but he knows he if everything is on the up and up he has him covered.

208

Does F1 have the 107% qualifying rule this year?

209

They made it 109% for Red Bull this year.

210

Haha, that's a good one.

211

Aldo Costa has done a fantastic job creating this new Mercedes.

212

He has given vision and direction to the Merc F1 team, agree with that.

213

Q on driving style - who will 2014 suit? Less downforce and more sliding suggests those more comfortable with a moving car might do well, but the regulations also may require a driving style that saves fuel. I read Allan McNish saying the new regs would suit Jenson's smooth driving style, though with more sliding around I thought it may suit other who have a more carting style. What do you think Mr Allen - could we have a feature on this?

214

"... though with more sliding around I thought it may suit other who have a more carting style..."

I assume you mean karting style? And if that's the case, then I suggest the rest of the field be VERY afraid of Button.

You should take a look at Button's past karting results. In short, there have been VERY few people in history that were better than Jenson in a kart! Check out the 1991 British Cadet Kart Championship.

Say no more.

215
Clarks4WheelDrift

Good point, and it may come down to the tyres. No doubt those who can hustle and deal with the oversteery sliding with extra torque will be happy, but only if it doesn't cost them in tyre drop off or extra stops.

The new compounds may be harder so perhaps some teams (or smooth drivers) could continue having issues getting heat into the tyres.

It was nice to hear Paul Hembrey hint that deg wouldn't be as extreme but they're still trying to avoid every race becoming a one stopper. He was smiling a lot more than last year, must be loving the new engine and reliability issues deflecting from the tyres (for now) 😉

Still think, despite F1 looking a bit like Le Mans with different classes of car (LMP1 'Merc/Ferr' and LMP2 'Renault'), you cannot tell much from the testing times.

Be very interesting to see if there are more driver clashes - with the top speed differences, the braking zone differences, the turbo boost or battery delivery differences and of course the torque car sliding.

The only sure thing for me is that Red Bull will be the most improved team from the first to last race this year.

Can't wait now.

216
Alexander Supertramp

Should suit the likes of Kimi, Alonso & Lewis, right? I have a feeling it will be about manhandling the car, I don't recall Jenson being particulary good at that. People say Jenson isn't great when he the car is not tuned to his liking -too much understeer/oversteer- , so McNish might be wrong..

217

Really disappointed with the coverage for these test, why no real footage of the cars.

Watching the Sky coverage I'm seeing nowt.

Is there a ban on filming at these tests James?

By the way the cars are getting better looking judgeing by the still images - I Told you all these cars would look great.

218

Looks like we are already getting used to these cars. I really do have no complaints about the W05. For the turn of speed it has shown far, Mercedes have managed to keep its looks very tidy too.

219

Whenever I seek information about F1, I end up on this site. Each time I ask myself.... " what the fcuk are you doing here?". JA is of course a known and proven quantity in this neck of the woods. His articles and views are mostly spot on.

But the people, mostly Brits, who make comments here..

Boi do I wanna throw up !

Let's get some things clear....

I would never fathom why any person with a quantum of brain, at any given time, would compare Lewis to any driver on the grid.

Mid-season 2009 I knew Lewis was going to work with Ross Brawn. And you don't have to be Einstein to know that , or to have seen that coming.

You guys make me sick.

There are just two drivers on the grid besides Lewis..

Fernando and the Iceman.

The rest are mediocres. Vettel and Button championly lead this group.

Like I said, you don't have to be Einstein to know this.

Lest I forget, I am GERMAN.

220

Vettel is not mediocre.

There is a great rivalry destined to happen the two names I see are Vettel and Hamilton.

Given cars on par this will be their time - Alonso and Kimi are of a different time.

Vettel is a quality driver.

221

I guess we all have different standards for "measuring" mediocrity.

That being said, I still passionately believe that Lewis and Vettel ain't in the same league.

Lewis was born to race. You come across racers like him, if you are lucky, once in two decades.

And to JA, I have been astutely following the sport for over 20 years, and I'm not even 40 yet.

P.S: I am German and PARTIAL.

222

@ thompson

What do you mean by different time ?

Lewis had his chances in 2007,2010 and 2012 to grab the WDC. Yet he fluffed the chances (Lewis is not blame for 2012 season though). I like lewis he is fast and offers plenty of excitement.

You are way off the mark. Given the cars which has parity and no crucial pace advantage. Then this will be the order Alonso, Lewis, Kimi and Vettel.

Yes vettel his quality driver. Yet the question is how much of quality he simply has with no efficient RBR at his disposal? Do we know? In fairness we do not have any inkling what so ever. Whereas lewis Fernando and Kimi have done some fantastic season with crap and ropey machineries at their disposal. In fact 2014 promises quite a lot and If RBR struggles are true as many foresee then hopefully we will find the answers.

The rivarly between Lewis and Vettel is diametrically not there yet. All these seasons from 10-13 RBR have simply had too much pace compared to thier rivals. Maybe if mercedes and RBR compete throughout the season toe to toe then we will know who comes out on top. (It has to be Lewis)

223

Alonso and Kimi are old men (relatively speaking) - The Times they are a changing.

These guys are yesterdays men. Anyone looking at Vettels performance over the last few years and not see his ability is blind - only Hamilton s driven some awesome races and qualiflying laps to match Sebs performances.

The Mclaren years for Hamilton were sadly mixed with some superb performances matched by stupendously

stupid blunders that cost Hamilton 2007 (ignoring Saubers illegal fuel) scrapping through 2008 even with the best efforts of the FIA and Mosley to scupper him - the rest you can Google but hopefully Merc will provide the consistency that will allow the rivalry to commence.......lol

,

Yes Kimi has driven some consistant races making up places under the radar but no AWESOME!! performances - likewise Alonso - maybe it was the car maybe drivers maybe a little of both.

Only Hamilton has driven down Vettel and passed him on track and on more than one occasion when both cars have been on it.

But trust me the future belongs to Hamilton and Vettel - you watch, it's their time.

224

Vettel is far from mediocre.

I'm impartial and have studied these guys close up for 25 years. Trust me, he's right up there. Yes he's had a great car (most, but not all of the time) but what he has done with it has been exceptional, especially from 2011 onwards

225

Krischar, I took it to mean that he didn't have the best car at times, during some seasons. Certainly the RB8 wasn't the best car at some tracks in 2012, and earlier in that season. It was always in the mix though.

Looking at the entire 2012 season, and knowing in hindsight where the car's performance would be, any driver would still want to be in that car - through the year - over any other.

As you say, RBR had a clear advantage over all the others in 2010, 2011, and 2013.

226

James you say "(most, but not all of the time)"

However RBR held the advantage over their rivals in 2010, 2011 & 2013 easily. Mclaren Matched RBR for pace in 2012 yet the operational errors and ropey reliability made the life difficult for Lewis and Jenson to pose any serious threat for WDC title.

Yes vettel deserves his 4 WDC titles. That's about it. To say vettel did not had any pace advantage over their brethren between 10-13 is little too much supportive i believe.

227

Completely agree with you Lewis, Kimi and Fernando are in a class above the rest. The main reason alot of Brits can't see this, is because they get influenced by the media who obviously like to alter peoples opinions on drivers. If we kept the pre-2009 rules, those three would have been multiple world champions.

228

Dear James,

I think, on testing performance, it would be fair to replace the F14 T on the top of the JA on F1 page with the W05. It is shaping up to be a MP4-29 versus W05 battle so far.

Never mind that it will make two silvery cars.

What say, James?

Regards

Vivek

229

The form is getting clearer with each test. Mercedes, McLaren and Ferrari in that order now but I wish Red Bull will be in the fight and it seems unlikely at the moment now. Only when Melbourne race finishes then will we know who'll be the most reliable team.

Looks like Kimi and Alonso will have to push but this year I think Ferrari will do much better. Looking at their lap times and the amount of lesser laps done compared to Merc and Mc we will not know.

Until the first three races are completed then at least we can sort of make a guess the WDC contender but it can still change halfway through the season and will be the best if the leader board keeps changing.

230

@ Johnbt

I am in complete disenchantment already. Every season since 2009 Ferrari have started poorly and tried to play catch up with RBR and duly failed.

This 2014 again it's very clear they need to play catch up with Mercedes (A different team though) to have any chance and stay alive in the title fight.

I really feel very much for Alonso. Fernando has gave every ounce of himself for the last 4 seasons. Yet it has been so near yet so far.

Again 2014 test barbs confirm that Alonso will have his work cut out more than Ferrari to catch up with the fast duo of Lewis&Nico.

231

Yes Ferrari are not there yet in terms of pace.

Yes Alonso and kimi will need to push from the start to keep up with impressive Mercedes and Mclaren.

The WDC fight will be battled out between the mercedes pilots along with sober jenson and impressive Kevin in the mix.

I am cert that even if Ferrari try the quali runs at second test in bahrain they cannot match mercedes for pace. Roll on melbourne to find more answers for the 2014 mystery already

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