What the Jerez test showed us and What the Formula 1 teams will be doing next
Posted By: James Allen  |  02 Feb 2014   |  9:37 pm GMT  |  226 comments

The first test session at Jerez last week threw up some major surprises and interesting talking points, including the failure of Renault and the innovative aerodynamics on the McLaren.

Here JA on F1 technical adviser Mark Gillan, former chief operations engineer at Williams and Toyota explains how the F1 teams approach the pre-season tests and analyses what they will be doing now, back at base, to get ready for the next test in Bahrain.

What the F1 teams were aiming to achieve at the Jerez test
The 2014 energy recovery system (ERS) boosted F1 cars are extremely complex systems so it was undoubtedly with a lot of trepidation that the Teams and engine suppliers turned up at Jerez for the first test. Clearly Mercedes and Ferrari power units have had a good start to the season having proven to be generally reliable, allowing their associated Teams to do pretty good mileage, whereas Renault have had a difficult V6 turbo era inception, leaving their Teams with limited running.

One typically wants to complete a minimum of 1200kms and ideally over 1600kms on a 4 day test. The first test generally has the least mileage as you get to grips with the new car and complex systems, which normally require a little debugging. However by the second test you want to be doing high fuel long runs, typically of 15 to 20 lap stints to get an understanding of the car’s general behaviour and tyre usage. By the third test the whole test matrix should be finished with a full race simulation successfully completed.

Looking at the mileage completed at Jerez only Mercedes (1368kms) , Ferrari (1111kms) and McLaren (1084kms) will probably be happy. Williams, Sauber and Force India managed 774km, 721kms and 646kms respectively which is less than ideal, but still OK for a first test. However Caterham, Toro Rosso, Marussia and Red Bull only completed 336kms, 239kms, 132kms and 92kms respectively which means that very few of their test matrix items will have been ticked off.

Before the start of the season each Team will have created a complex test plan, listing a large number of test items to be accomplished. This list will include a prioritised set of important systems checks such as fuel run out tests (i.e. checking the ability of the car to pick up the last millilitres of fuel and to carefully study the collector pressure as the fuel runs out), to reliability checks which need mileage, to process checks such as race start simulations and pit-stops, to performance items, such as understanding the new car’s aeromap and general handling and tyre usage characteristics. It is imperative that each Team completes as much of this test programme as possible; this clearly needs the car and general team operations to be reliable.

Renault’s troubles not down to a single issue
Renault’s Rob White confirmed at the test that he was confident that they will get on top of the issues that had proved problematic throughout the test and which had limited their associated Teams running.

When one gets problems on a car it is rarely a single issue, and more normally a collection of problems which are interrelated and need fixed in an efficient and rigorous manner. With the complexity of the new V6 engine, larger battery pack, new power electronics, bigger MGU-K, new turbo and innovative MGU-H one should not underestimate the difficulty of this task. It also looks like Red Bull are having to rethink their cooling strategy as a result of certain components getting excessively hot. [Editor’s Note: MGU-K is the motor generator unit – kinetic i.e. the KERS motor (enlarged from last year) and MGU-H is the all new motor generator unit – Heat and is the electric motor associated with the new turbo and tasked with recovering heat from the exhaust.]

Do the lap times tell us anything about who looks quick?
With regards to analysing lap-times this is ‘fraught with danger’ even during a standard test but with this test effectively acting as an extended shake-down for the new power units one should not read too much into them. Having said that the McLaren and Williams do look to be a relative ‘step up’ from last season and the Ferrari looks pretty strong too, along with the Mercedes. We’ll get a much better feel for relative pace in Bahrain.

Eye catching innovations on the F1 cars

Every year something excites the F1 engineers about someone else’s design and this year was no different with McLaren’s rear suspension aero profiled geometry (above) , which acts probably as a pseudo split rear lower beam to energise the diffuser and upper rear wing cluster (the lower beam has disappeared in the 2014 regulations), causing a stir. The Teams will have got as many high definition pictures of this feature as possible, checked the regulations (and with the FIA), and then will test this feature in the next few days (if not already done so), to see what benefits, if any, it can bring to their car.

McLaren were also sporting a nice 32 channel automatic traverse Kiel Probe rake for measuring the pressure field aft of the front tyre. This test equipment will traverse vertically during a run (in quais-steady state conditions) to capture the complete wake off the front tyre for correlation with wind tunnel and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) data – this is crucial to make sure that the development process is working efficiently. (Note: With front wings 150mm narrower this year, moving the air cleanly around the front tyre is more difficult)

These probes are used in conjunction with standard flow viz paint (see Williams rear wing above) to ensure that the tunnel and CFD are correlating. For instance you can see the unwanted loss around central separator region on the Caterham’s rear wing upper cluster (i.e. the v shape on the flow viz).

What the F1 teams will be doing now ahead of the next test (Bahrain 19-22 February)
The Teams will now be ‘flat out’ analysing their own data and reacting to any issues encountered in the test and also analysing pictures of their competitors. The Power Unit suppliers will be doing the same, with Renault clearly having to react to what happened during the 4 days testing.

The issue for Renault will be repeating the problem on the dyno/bench – if they can do that then they will have a mechanism to fix the issue, if not, then the fix will be significantly more difficult.

From a personal perspective I have the greatest respect for both Rob White (Deputy Managing Director (Engine)) and Remi Taffin (Head of Track Operations) who are both extremely intelligent and tenacious engineers and whom will no doubt be back at base directing their staff and ensuring that the problems receive the appropriate attention

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I live in Fremont California, home of the Teslas. I am used to low sounding vehicles. I was extremely disappointed that I stayed up after hours when I should have been sleeping to hear the roar of F1 cars in the Australian GP. I own cars with V12 engines even though Tesla pays my bills. I am a race enthusiast. I am very sorry that F1 has lost me as a customer. I will continue to ignore Napcar and Indy. However I will miss the oasis that F1 was. Thank you F1. Bye now.

Sorry, I will not lose sleep over the small sample product I encounter and I will never approve my company to ever sponsor anything F1 related. Sorry for the vent but I can’t exactly write a letter to F1 executives I don’t normally talk to.




Ahh progress. F1 gets uglier and slower each year. More techno-babble, more weight and tyres made from chewing gum. Last year at Melbourne we had Historic Group C support races. A 9L V8 March being chased by a 3L V12 Matra. The most entertaining and enjoyable races of the weekend!


With Formula Hybrid,formerly known as Formula One, on the wane, it is being reported that GP2 lap times at some circuits could be fastest. Does that mean that GP2.will now be getting the increased TV coverage it deserves..


since mark webber left F1 for the new and exciting world of WEC/LMP1 racing i have been boning up and this series really looks as though it has a very bright future insofar as it is a true development series.

i have absolutely no problems with the integration and acceptance of new technology and the pursuance of engineering excellence. i love that. where i lose interest is when we have the application of manipulative issues such a DRS and pirelli trash tyres.

F1 has, IMO, degraded its once proud heritage of being the ultimate in motorsport competition. by all means introduce innovation but at least let us get back to all out racing.


In other news, Kubica is 7 to 1 to finish on the podium in Rally Sweden : )! GO ROBBIE!!!


The Merc is looking in good shape, Aldo Costa has done a great job. Ferrari were mad to let him go.


Ferrari have not got the results under his reign. In fairness Ferrari have been very poor ever since 2009 to 2013.

Yes this season again show plenty of early promises. Mercedes have stepped up and Mclaren are back in it. With Ferrari not too far away from these teams.

I will still not bet against a RBR race victory come the Australian GP, only time will tell.


Ferrari’s last championships were Costa cars, 2007 and 2008.

Once again, Ferrari were mad to let him go, he has made Mercedes a great car.


I’ve been a faithful watcher of F1 for way over 2 decades, but one thing that annoys me, is that F1 always blatantly fiddled with the rules if someone did their job too well.

Nobody would get the idea of mandating lead shoes in track & field in hope to make Usain Bolt lose. Nobody mandated that cyclists have to have 2 testicles after Lance Armstrong won 7 Tour de Frances on the trot. (Even if that turned out a massive scam later)

But in F1 it seems to be acceptable to mandate tyre suppliers to deliberately build crap tyres in an effort to disadvantage high downforce cars. In 2005 they fiddled with the tyre rules to forcibly stop Ferrari from winning. That has nothing to do with real life.

In real life the smart kid gets the best job, it doesn’t get dumbed down so that the dimwitted kid feels better about himself.

Now we will see it all over again. Renault dropped the ball and I’d bet my bottom dollar, they’ll get a ‘special permit’ to change their engine past the freeze date to have them keep up with the competition. It’s wrong. They should suffer a crap year for failing to build a functioning motor after a bloody 2 year development period.

What’s the point in having a competition, if you punish those, who are too good at it or coddle those, who are too stupid to make the cut?

That’s broken with F1, not the sound.


I bet if that RB10 could last a few laps in Vettels hands it would be bloody quick.

So when it does start to last and it will, they had all better watch out.


Wow, there is such a bunch of whining going on…..I love the technology and change, engineers have new toys to learn and play with and the hybrid powrtrain is fascinating stuff. NA is NOT the state of the art anymore and supercars are joining the hybrid train (or else will be run over by it).

For me F1 is about the state of the art pinnacle of motor racing and whether or not my ears bleed makes no difference. Yes I think the V6’s sound cool!!

Everything has it’s place in time, let’s relish the developmental years of the hi-tech and embrace the change to a more engine/power unit oriented race program.

Love it

Love it

Love it


Hi James, any idea how much of an advantage Mclaren will have if the others cannot implement a rear suspension setup like theirs?

I read/heard somewhere that Ferrari’s design seems a touch conservative. And that a reporter heard the car scrabbling for grip, more so than Merc/Mclaren. I wonder if theyre in for the usual ‘not enough downforce’ issue. I hope not!!


Ferrari have had problems with traction for a while now

I’ll find out more about your specific questions


Thanks James 🙂

Ferrari have said their wind tunnel correlation seems to be a success this year so heres to hoping they can provide Kimi/Fernando a car capable of fighting for the titles.


Thanks for the analysis, looking forward to Bahrain. Bernie has a point, regarding engine sound and economies of fuel, but f1 is also to do with new technologies and having a stagnant v8 doesn’t fit that much into this idea. As such its up to the team’s to develop a fast downsized v6 turbo engine. Oxymoron FIA asks for budget cuts. I guess that every party will have to sit down again and come up with a vision at least for the next 10 years, simply to put it…what f1 do we really want!


There’s been a lot of discussion on the forum about the thermal discharge problems that the teams (especially Bull) are facing. That is a legitimate discussion, but I also think another area worth investigating is going to be the gearbox, rear brakes and rear axle. Just think: these new turbo/electronic units are going to pump out a huge amount more torque than the old V8’s, so that inevitably will put a lot of extra strain on the gearbox, driveshafts and rear axle. Apparently, back in the old turbo era, the drivers complained about “axle tramp”, where the 1.5 litre bi-turbo engines produced so much torque on full boost than even in third, fourth gear the rear axles was squirming, practically unable to take all the load from the engines. Also, with the extra electrical harvesting, the rear axle could possibly be overloaded and counter-rotate, locking the rear axle and causing the driver to spin off. Is this a possibility, or is it just supposition?

Also, the new fly by brake technology used at the rear brakes could be very interesting, swapping the old reliable hydraulic system for an electric one. Hmm, what happens if there is some electrical infidelity amongst the sensors and acuators? I’m a bit concerned about this. A rear brake failure could be catastrophic if a “bug” gets in the electrical system. At least if the ERS fails, the driver still has the petrol engine for forward motion. Can anyone reassure me that this new fly by wire braking system will not have meltdowns?

Lastly, rear suspension is an interesting area. With the exhaust being mandated to one outlet in the centre, doesn’t that mean the rear suspension is less prone to being “cooked” by the hot exhaust gases, and that the air-flow and therefore efficiency and aero balance will be significantly better?

Any insight greatly received


Thanks for the insight James. It’s articles like this that set your website apart from others. I hope the comments pages dont degenerate into personal slanging matches like some other websites have degenerated into as there are normally some good points made.

And for what its worth I like the turbo engine sound. Sounds similar to the first gen turbo F1 engines and we certainly haven’t heard them at full chat yet too.


I would say that on aero perspective we saw some pretty interesting cars. To me, besides the very clever McLaren rear solution, that can be a major factor, the two most interesting are RB and Ferrari fronts. Both cars are not just separating the fluid and channeling to the back but also creating aimed depressions on specific sections of the bodywork. Of the two actually Ferrari is the most extreme (I am quite surprised that someone said that they were conservative) and they have must spent (or shall I say I hope they did spend) a lot of time on the wind tunnel at different pressure gradients to make sure that the effects are truly progressive, otherwise they will be very fast on high speed and low speed but not on medium corners (which has been their problem in the past). RB uses impact air from the little opening on the nose and creates a depression right after, using a solution that Toleman used back in the days. At Jerez all big teams they were mapping and gathering data they had at least couple seconds in the pocket. Lotus idea can be interesting it all depends what they do after the fork, but that solution creates some other problems and you want to have a very drivable car with new rules… Will see in Barhain….


I would say that on aero perspective we saw some pretty interesting cars. To me, besides the very clever McLaren rear solution, that can be a major factor, the two most interesting are RB and Ferrari fronts. Both cars are not just separating the fluid and channeling to the back but also creating aimed depressions on specific sections of the bodywork. Of the two actually Ferrari is the most extreme (I am quite surprised that someone said that they were conservative) and they have must spent (or shall I say I hope they did spend) a lot of time on the wind tunnel at different pressure gradients to make sure that the effects are truly progressive, otherwise they will be very fast on high speed and low speed but not on medium corners (which has been their problem in the past). RB uses impact air from the little opening on the nose and creates a depression right after, using a solution that Toleman used back in the days. At Jerez all big teams they were mapping and gathering data they had at least couple seconds in the pocket. Will see in Barhain….


Looks like Lotus may have had the right idea. They’ve not missed much by not attending, though they’d have hoped that the other teams would have ironed out the engine glitches by now.



Force india is a highly intelligent team compared to williams.when you compare williams’ facilities with force india,you will see that force india looks nothing more than a small workshop,they dont even have a 60% windtunnel.but the force india’s are simply known for punching above weight.

Dont worry darth hulkenberg and sergio skywalker will be kicking ass this year with FORCE INDIA!!!!!”


Why did Force India struggle whereas all the other Merc engined cars got in a lot of mileage?


It seems that many would like to write RBR and Renault off (especially in the JA Renault article). I think that is not wise. Of course it is not ideal to run just installation laps or the Jerez video with the spitting TR.

However, just as many thought that Merc were way before everyone else, Renault could catch up. Normally it’s the last test (normally in Barca, this year in Bahrain) that will tell us the picking order.

I can imagine while Merc and Ferrari is checking data and fine-tuning ecerything at this moment, the Renault guys are working their ass off day and night.

I am looking forward, especially to the internal Ferrari cat-fight and hopefully to see Macca and Williams back to glory-days.


I agree, lets give the Bulls and Regie the benefit of the doubt. Bull have the facilities – and finance – to put in lots of over-nighters at Milton Keynes to try and resolve any issues. Perhaps it’s better to have the problems exposed now than at the first practice in Melbourne.

I think you are correct on a potential bust up at Ferrari. Two very egotistical men into one team is combustible, to say the least. Fernando vs Kimi is a mouth watering prospect.

Finally, yes, it would be great to see Frank and Macca at the sharp end of the grid. I’d be surprised if Frank was contesting the WDC, but you know what, stranger things have happened. That Merc V6 is potentially the class engine of the field in 2014, so Frank and Macca could do some serious business this year.


James could we have a more considered in depth look at the McLaren rear aero. It seems that they might have stolen a march on other teams including Mercedes with this innovation.


interesting that a technical article gets hijacked by the bernie lover/hater brigade like he is some sort of blofeld mastermind. You only have to hear him in an interview to see he is really just a mascot for the sport these days and probably hasn’t even bothered to read anything about the new designs. life is too short for that.


Maybe because James is a bit selective about news items and did not report on BE comments.


Hi Mark,

Thanks for the overview of the test. I’m interested to know how long you think it will take the other teams to copy the rear aero suspension on the McLaren? I imagine it is quite challenging to incorporate it into their new cars, especially since there is so much other stuff to be worrying about and it is quite a fundamental component on the car. Didn’t it take half a season for the other teams to copy the double diffuser on the Brawn cars?

Also what potential is there for off throttle turbo blowing on the suspension? I read somewhere else this is an area that can potentially be exploited but from the pictures that I’ve seen the exhaust doesn’t look like it’s directed at the suspension enough to create this effect!?

After last season a lot of people had written off McLaren as just another midfield team – going the way of Williams – but it is great to see that they’ve still got some great ideas and innovations. I hope they’ve got more tricks up their sleeves!


Great story on the first test. Interesting comments about the change to new engines etc for 2014. It’s about time as the past few seasons have become boring with the same old thing and just a few aero changes. I have seen F1 go through many changes over the years from the ‘amazing noise’ of the BRM V16 to the 1500’s, then turbo etc …. all were great eras. We now have a new era and it has already bought interest back to F1 … which it needed.


Everyone should go on planet f1 and read the article about what rosberg said about this years racing. F1 is going in the wrong direction and it’ll damage the sport.


You mean where he said

“There are so many variables that my expectation is that it will be a very thrilling season.”

Sounds OK to me. Hope he’s right.


You know what is the most unfair thing to me? You can skip the first race and win the last one and be good with points as it would be the same as winning 2 other races.

How absurd is this? Instead of rewarding people for doing the job right and showing up in Austria with a strong car, people are rewarded to skip first races and win the last.

Formula 1 is going from bad to worse.

Fernando "150%" Alonso

Excelent point!


Not Austria, Australia (mistake).


There are no kangaroos in Austria


Have you ever been to their

zoos or courts?

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