F1 Winter Break
Hamilton Quickest in Bahrain As pre-season testing draws to a close
Posted By:   |  02 Mar 2014   |  5:16 pm GMT  |  319 comments

Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes ended pre-season testing in ominously potent style today, with the Briton topping the times in Bahrain, ahead of Valtteri Bottas and Fernando Alonso. But Hamilton did not eclipse the fastest time of the winter, set by Felipe Massa on Day 3 in 1m 33.258s

With only 12 days now remaining until the new 1.6 litre turbo-charged engines are fired up for the first free practice session in Melbourne, today offered the teams their final chance to confirm reliability and assess short run pace, and in those regards there were varying degrees of success and failure.

Hamilton spent much of the morning out of his Mercedes W05 as another gearbox problem delayed the team’s plans, but with installation laps prior to the lunch break and a series of longer runs this afternoon, the final hour of his test programme focused on shorter stints.

A lap of 1:33.278 on used soft tyres saw the 2008 World Champion snatch the fastest time away from Williams’ Bottas in that hour, taking 0.7s off the Finn’s time, also set on soft tyres. Hamilton then returned to the pits for a set of Pirelli’s super soft tyres and the prospect of seeing Mercedes’ true pace in the final 30 minutes of the day.

However, after posting the fastest first sector seen across the eight days in Bahrain, Hamilton then backed off and made no improvement in his pacesetting time.

Williams have enjoyed the highest level of reliability throughout the pre-season but their previously perfect record of zero on-track stoppages was ended today, though in the end it was only a minor blot on their testing copybook. Bottas followed Felipe Mass’s lead from Saturday by heading the times at the lunch break and remaining there this afternoon, only for a break down on the pit straight to require some behind the scenes work.

After two difficult years, in which Pastor Maldonado’s 2012 Spanish GP victory was the lone success, Williams’ current form looks very strong. A neat car that works well in both fast and slow corners is aided by the Mercedes engine, which has proved to be the power-unit of choice.

With the final day seeing eight red flags, a 25-minute extension to running was granted, and that conveniently allowed for use of the flood lights that will be used for this year’s running of the grand prix. The lights have, of course, been used previously, at the final round of last year’s World Endurance Championship.

During the time extension, Alonso set Ferrari’s quickest time of these Bahrain tests, using a set of supersoft tyres to post a lap one second adrift of Hamilton’s best on used soft tyres. The F14T was the cause of one red flag but still managed 74 laps.

The 12 days of testing have been painful but informative for Red Bull Racing as they have battled with a catalogue of problems. After a nightmare day three this week, during which the team failed to complete a single lap, today ran more smoothly, with Sebastian Vettel added 77 laps. The day still wasn’t without it’s problems, however, and after a positive morning session, during which Vettel completed 40 laps, a rumoured brake failure pitched him in to a spin upon entry to the first corner – now named in honour of Michael Schumacher.

With the issue resolved after lunch, the final four hours ran smoothly and with a 100km filming day taking place in Bahrain on Monday, the Milton Keynes have another valuable change to add miles to the RB10 before their cargo is shipped to Melbourne.

It was also an improved day for Sauber, who yesterday managed just one lap after a fire surrounded the rear of the car. Adrian Sutil took the wheel of the C33 this morning due to his lack of running yesterday before handing the car over to Esteban Gutierrez. With 91 laps completed before lunch and a time quick enough for sixth best, the afternoon saw a further 86 laps from  the young Mexican.

Lotus had another troubled day with Romain Grosjean bringing out the red flag twice, eventually leading to the team calling it a day for the third time this week. An electrical issue disrupted this morning’s running only for a fire to put a halt to the afternoon’s plans.

According to data from Pirelli the total testing distance completed so far this year, combining Jerez and both Bahrain tests is 7,099 laps and 36,974 kilometres. This time last year, the teams had completed 10,902 laps and 49,942 kilometres of pre-season testing (Jerez and two Barcelona tests 2013 combined).

They also have posted that the performance difference between the tyre compounds are approximately as follows: the supersoft is around 0.7s per lap faster than the soft, the soft is around 1.3-1.5s per lap quicker than the medium, and the medium is around 1.3-1.5s per lap quicker than the hard.

The tyre compound choices for the first four Grand Prix are therefore as follows:

Australia MEDIUM and SOFT

Malaysia HARD and MEDIUM

Bahrain MEDIUM and SOFT


Bahrain Test Two; Day Four Times
1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:33.278s 69 laps
2. Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:33.987s +0.709s 108 laps
3. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:34.280s +1.002s 74 laps
4. Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:35.577s +2.299s 74 laps
5. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:35.701s +2.423s 74 laps
6. Adrian Sutil Sauber 1m36.467s +3.189s 91 laps
7. Max Chilton Marussia 1m36.835s +3.557s 61 laps
8. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1m37.303s +4.025s 86 laps
9. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing 1m37.468s +4.190s 77 laps
10. Jenson Button McLaren 1m38.111s +4.833s 22 laps
11. Kamui Kobayashi Caterham 1m38.391s +5.113s 106 laps
12. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1m39.302s +6.024s 32 laps

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What happened to Button?


Engine failure according to Autosport.


Twelve days! I'm really looking forward to this season - it will take a true team effort between drivers, engineers, and race tacticians to win this championship. Promises to have a lot of ups and downs for all teams with regard to reliability and pace.

Not a Red Bull fan, but watching them get their act together and make a charge to the title will be exciting.


Nor a RB fan myself but I agree that, if they really as far behind as they seem to be, that it's going to be exiting watching them play catchup,they certainly have what it takes to do that.

Having said that, rate of development will be key this year so it will be real interesting to see how all teams respond, whether in front or behind.


It's not Hamilton who's fast. It's the car.

Been hearing it 4 seasons long about Vettel, just want to be sure every driver gets fairly treated here. 🙂


I can't help but notice, despite the smiley face, a certain bitterness is starting to creep into your comments 🙂


We will now get a chance to see if Vettel falls to pieces in poor equipment.

Is he only good at driving away in the best equipment or does he have heart?


4 trophies will keep his spirits up in time of difficulty. So don't hold your breath for Hamilton style drama with Vettel.

Besides, he has a kid (here/on the way?), so he won't mind a stress free year to adjust to fatherhood.

Alexander Supertramp

Vettel is a serious record maniac, he will not take the loss easily.


I am not so sure about that. We have seen plenty of outbursts from Vettel when he is under pressure or things aren't going his way. Do you remember him screaming 'what's he doing' just before he hit the brake marker board in 2012? Or, 'he's too slow, get him out of the way'? Or, 'do something' to Rockie ?Expect plenty of fireworks if Red Bull don't sort their car out pronto.

Happy days indeed. 🙂


Nicely done Sebee, even if not everyone got it 🙂


On the contrary, it IS Hamilton who is fast just as it was Vettel WAS fast!!


If you want "fair treatment" Vettel should go up against another world champion in the same car.


Alonso is "forced" to do that only now after a decade. Button and Kimi chose to do it themselves. I think Hamilton also has no such problem - again not publicly known. Not sure about Vettel.


Hamilton made his debut against a two-time reigning champion, so I think it's fair to say he doesn't have a problem with it 🙂

Also, whether drivers chose to do so or not is kind of irrelevant; I'm not making a judgement on the drivers' will or resolve or courage, merely their talent. The fact is that Vettel has never had a top tier teammate, and he's driving for a design genius that has won numerous world championships since he was in short trousers.


This is why I am a big fan of Lewis Hamilton. Every year his teammate has either been a former world champion or a GP winner, except in 08 when Heikki was hired for that season. He takes on all comers and has only lost once to 09 champ Button. Lewis is not afraid to team up with anyone, regardless of the outcome.

Nico will give him a run for his money this year, but I know that Lewis will cherish the challenge. Go Lewis!


Sorry, not Andrew. I meant Rockie.


Andrew, that's the risk you take when pairing with other great drivers, especially ex WDCs, you will eventually take championship points from each other.


Incidentally that's the only year he won the WDC, when paired with Kovalainen!

Fernando "150%" Alonso

He had that opportunity! Gues what happend?


Cried like a baby..& the one who didnt give a.. Took on an even bigger challenge-- the only real man in the sport- the others are babies..I credit Hamilton with being a super quick baby for matching FA back then as a rookie no less !


Hehe, true. Someone got scared to death of that proposition I suppose.


Lets be honest, how often has that ever happened?


Quite a lot actually. And it's led to some of the greatest moments in F1. Senna vs Prost is the best of all time, of course.

If we say drivers that went on to be champions later ('#1' drivers), being paired with a champion earlier (e.g. HAM & ALO 2007), then there's even more:

Senna/Prost 1988

Prost/Mansell 1990

Piquet/Mansell 1986-87

Prost/D.Hill 1993

J.Villeneuve/D.Hill 1996


Off the top of my head:

Senna vs Prost

Hamilton vs Button

Raikkonen vs Alonso

Prost vs Rosberg

And if we're counting times when drivers subsequently became world champions (which I think is pretty reasonable):

Hamilton vs Alonso

Mansell vs Prost

Mansell vs Piquet

Hill vs Prost

Hill vs Villeneuve

Villeneuve vs Alonso (admittedly not for long)

Prost vs Lauda

Hakkinen vs Senna (briefly)

Schumacher vs Piquet (briefly)

Hill vs Mansell

In fact, looking over the recent past, only one driver since Alan Jones in 1980 has never shared a car with a champion (either current or future) - guess who that is?


Alonso Vs Lewis (even when he wasn't a champ yet)

Lewis is the one of the few who has proven himself against champs.


Lewis vs Jenson


so it's not Chilton that's slow it's the car 🙂


That's Max's line, and he's stickin' with it!


Anyone can build a rocket, but not everyone can drive it. Seb has, since 2009.

I just hope that Lewis can do it this year.


Actually not everyone can build a rocket. - Just ask Caterham!


Watch out, The Caterhams might be the only cars who will finish in Oz!


Thats mainly because it was'nt Vettle who was fast IT WAS THE CAR 🙂


that should have been up there under Sebee's comment way above


Seriously dude, you gotta stop about Hamilton. We get it, you don't like him.


What are you talking about? He's not my guy, but I'm far far from not liking him. If anything I definitely don't like him not realizing his potential and I do believe he has quite a bit say in that task.

With Vettel many said 99% car 1% Vettel. I'm just making light if the fact that 99% Hamilton and 1% Mercedes is not accurate.


[mod] Vettel has had the most dominant car by a country mile, but now without the Renault/Newey gizmos he is going to look pretty average most probably place out of the points in the first quarter. In 2007/2008 Ferrari had a car at least as good as the McLaren which is ably demonstated by the close results.


Tealeaf, more dominant than recent Red Bulls?!? Do you ever re-read what you write before posting?

There were races where they were dominant (Monaco 2007 springs to mind), but not consistently better than all the other cars like the Red Bulls have been for the past four seasons. In 2007 the Ferrari was just as good, one track Macca was ahead; another Ferrari. It was very even. Same in 2008, though Ferrari were slightly better over the season.

Hamilton has never been sat in the outright best car in any particular season. His best car he had to share with the reigning 2xDWC as a rookie. And yes, as it played out, he should've won that title but didn't. But I don't think ANYONE would've thought it anywhere remotely possible - before the season started - for a rookie to take on his reigning 2xDWC and be anywhere close to the title at the end.

Vettel's had the best car for 4 seasons straight. Most drivers are lucky if they get the best car twice in their career! If it turns out he's used up his luck allocation in those four years, and now has to endure a down year, I don't think he nor any of his fans should feel too put out. It happens. It happened to Hamilton in 2009 after his title. Drivers can still show their quality in lesser machinery; sometimes even moreso. I expect Vettel, level-headed competitor that he is, will see it that way as well, and just get on with it. I expect some cursing from him during the season, 'cos that's just how he is when he's in his "racing mode". And who knows? If Renault sort out their problems, I wouldn't be surprised to see the RB10 running at the front once more. It looks like a good car, aerodynamically speaking.


Actually Richard the 2007 and even 2008 Mclaren had essence left over from Newey, but whatever the case they had the quickest car and in alot of the races more dominant than recent Redbulls, but saying all that the most dominant car of all time is going to be the Merc of this year, enjoy.


Well let's be clear. Every top driver needs a fast car to do the business. The plain fact is that Hamilton, whilst having a competitive car 2007/2008, has never had a dominant car such like Vettel has had from Newey. Alonso great driver that he is was able to do something with his Ferrari because it was fast starting and had a good race pace. All top drivers need the proper tools particularly in these aero dynamic/ high deg.tyre times.


It's Hamilton AND the car. Same as it was Seb AND the car. T'was ever thus.


From what I've read, the extra torque from the turbo, and the reduced downforce mean that this year the driver is going to make much more of a difference than he/she did in recent years.

Of course, I'm expecting some massive differences between the cars, so the inter-team competition may still be somewhat lacking. There are some fascinating intra-team battles shaping up, though.

The only fly in the ointment is the weight penalty suffered by larger drivers which did not exist in recent years to the same degree.


Exactly. The car without a driver is but an ornament. A driver without a car is but a, well, runner. You need both car and driver working in harmony to excel.


100%. You have to use the tools given to best ability. It's the package.

I thought it was fair point to put forth in case Hamilton wins WDC and everyone says it was all car and Hamilton was just ballast.



lol good one


I wouldn't discount Rosberg though.


Me neither! Definitely a contender. He's fast and very smart, and these new cars are going to need a lot of intelligence to get the most out of them.


VET being a mighty 4 time world champion and hence the best of the best, I am sure he will be able to drag even a donkey (relatively speaking) to at least a runner up position in the title race - I mean, even ALO (the poor man with only two titles) managed to do that on several occasions against...VET.

That will certainly ensure automatic fair treatment...to everyone - without you feeling the need to write a word. 😉


And as we all remember Alonso was driving only his supreme abilities and was pedaling his feet out of the tub Flintstones style, Ferrari wasn't by any means fast. Right?


I believe the Ferrari starting position on grid come Sundays has been on average somewhere between 6th to 8th, for the last four seasons. I do not consider that as "fast". Of course it depend what you compare with. Maybe you are comparing them to Caterham, in that case your statement makes sense (?).


I remember quite a few standout wet drives from Seb in a 'dog' of a car back in Torro Rosso days, Fuji 2007 before Hamilton's slowing down antics on Webber behind the safety car, China 2007 a brilliant 4th with a back of the grid car in only Seb's first few races, remember Monza 2008? Or how about Interlagos 2008 where he outraced Hamilton whilst driving a slower car in the wet and effectively costing Hamilton the championship until Glock intervened, China 2009 wasn't too bad either for Redbull's first win and derailing the all conquering Brwans, mind you Webber had a terrific race too just couldn't quite match Seb overall. So you see I hope Australia is wet but even then when a car is 3sec off the pace there's no hope but points are possible.

Fernando "150%" Alonso

Sebee, i hope you remember Malaysia 2012! I hope your beloved Vettel will have the same chance this year! A wet race whit that dog of a car to prove to all of us what a brilliant driver he is!


no worries..am sure this year vettel will be driving his supreme abilities and will be peeding his feet out in flinstone style ...:D 😀

...and am also sure tht redbull wont let their champ to be open duck for others to hunt...

come on redbull

come on vettel


He he!

Flintstones style, luvin' it 🙂


YES the car is fast as it should be. However Hamilton is going to have to deal with Massa in car AS GOOD AS Mercedes. Besides There is Rosberg. And Mercedes doesn´t treat him like garbage. So Rosberg will be given the chance to fight. Hamilton is not gonna have it easy. Hamilton welcomes challenge and excitment. He likes the fight. That´s the difference!


Williams certainly looks good but I wouldn't say it's as good as the Mercedes. General consensus is Mercedes is the car to beat and they've probably held more back than the likes of Williams.

I think only reliability will stop a Ham or Ros win in Melbourne. If they don't win it then it's anyone's race!


Reliability is going to effect everybody at Melbourne


Come on, Anne. Hamilton was favored over Rosberg last year far more overtly than Vettel was over Webber.


[mod] See Japan, where Webber was strategized backwards so Vettel could win. Or in Germany with Webber leading, and comes in for a pit-stop. What happened then? The wheel wasn't fitted properly. Watching that race I called it before it happened. So predictable.


StevS I see many Hamilton fans jumping out of the wood works outraged at your comment but its the fact that Hamilton was favoured, watch out for it again this year when Hamilton wants to lead the race early on and pull away using masses of fuel at Australia, then realise by half distance that he needs to save a bucket load of fuel to finish, whilst all that time Rosberg is only within 5-10secs behind due to excellwnt pace whilst managing fuel and tyres, he can easily pass the strickened Hamilton but Lewis will be crying on thw radio for Roseberg to hold stationary, guess what? Rosberg knows how Hamilton operates now it'll be a different story compared to last year even the diehard Hamilton fan club are getting jittery about the threat of the very average Rosberg, its game on especially with Ferrari breathing down their necks, shame Vettel is in exile through no fault of his own.


Different management now, remember? Ross B not there any more


Ya'll must remember how Merc did not say anything last year when Ros was clearly blocking Lewis way at Singapore. After Malaysia, There hasn't been any team oders.


You're joking right? Even in Malaysia Rosberg overtook Lewis 3 times before the final stint where they were told to stop racing amd make it to the finish. It's a shame that he couldn't make those moves sticks.


Yeah, right.


On the contrary Hamilton was not favoured over Rosberg. Mercedes operate pretty much the same as McLaren in that it's equality until there is a clear leader at the sharp of the season.


Really? How come Rosberg won 2 races and Hamilton one?


When? In Malaysia? Rosberg was told to hold station after he had tried to pass Hamilton and Hamilton had taken the position back. I think that even happened twice. Both were supposed to be conserving fuel to get to the end of the race. Surely you have more evidence than that?


You must be kidding me mate! Do you remember Malaysia last year??


Exactly, its all the car and probably the car can acheve more in the hands of a faster driver, just look at average drivers like Massa and Rosberg setting the fastest times, they're not exactly elite, just to note Rosberg set his time similar to Hamilton's time today and it was set on softs instead of super softs.


take note as well,

However, after posting the fastest first sector seen across the eight days in Bahrain, Hamilton then backed off and made no improvement in his pace setting time.

you will only see the dust settle when Rosberg and Hamilton take to the track in Melbourne.

i like what i am reading, best news ever,

watching RB get their butts kicked,

some fresh new faces up front,

definitely looking forward to the new season.


Didn't I read somewhere in the article right up there that Lewis time was set on used softs?

That's not to steal your thunder though, but I think the artificial equating of Rosbergs (or Massa's) talent to Hamilton's is sort of wishful.



You'll hear from Rosberg fans end of year if he finishes ahead of Lewis. 🙂


While Rosberg was told to not pass LH in Sepang, the team didn't tel him to pass the lead to Lewis in Monaco, and they didn't do it at Silverstone either.

Why the need to stir up things in online community, it seems everyone wants a piece of commotion.

May the best man win, and LH has done it once already in a team his team mate existed for many years.


Who knows, the reg's might suit Rosberg over Hamilton, we just don't know yet. Over a season I'd always put my money on Hamilton, but y'never know. They say that consistent lines each lap will be a benefit for drivers this year, as re: fuel. On that score, Hamilton beats Rosberg no doubt.

As I said in an earlier post, Vettel, Alonso, and Button have all had the good fortune of having the outright best car, while Hamilton has not. Spread the wealth people!


Hang on I wouldn't call Massa average. He only lost 2009 WDC by one point to Hamilton. And think what would have been if Renault had not cheated (re Nelson Piquet Jnr crash)! His subsequent lack of form was a result of sustaining the head injury etc. Re Rosberg: He is no slouch either and I expect him to give Hamilton a good run for his money (if he is allowed to!).


Well I did say Ferrari had a slight edge over the season but its only like 55/45 in favour of Ferrari, the reason Mclaren didn't win the constructors was because of that useless Kovalainen, proved it again at the end of last year where he couldn't score a point in the 2nd fastest car at the time, no wonder even Caterham thought twice about resigning him, I'd bet Kobayashi would wipe the floor with Kovalainen.


mclaren didn't win the constructors championship in 2008. the car wasn't goose nought to win the constructors champion but the driver was good enough to win the drivers championship albeit with strange penalties. how about that?


mclaren didn't win the constructors championship in 2008. the car wasn't goose nought to win the constructors champion but the driver was good enough to win the drivers championship. how about that?


I take it you meant the 2008 title but you have to note maybe over the whole season Ferrari did have a slight advantage on Mclaren that year but yes if it wasn't for Piquet, a dodgy Ferrari engine at Hungary and a questionable Glock Massa had the title won BUT that was the Massa before his crash at Hungary 2009 and after that the Massa we know can still be fast every now an then but he was trounced by Alonso. Rosberg is nothing but average and its because the british media and fans overrate Hamilton so much that somehow elavated Rosberg's stocks, but if Nico were to be teamed with Vettel, Hulkenberg, Alonso and even Grosjean he'd look very slow indeed.


Did you read James article? He clearly states Hamilton set his time on used softs.


Ham was on used softs not super softs


And every driver will be treated fairly. If anyone beats Alonso, its got to be the car 😉


Ahhmmm hes been beaten for the last 4 years & he had the equipment to do it in 2010.


...and I'll just respond that it's all down to Hamilton, as that Merc would be circulating 'round with the Caterhams without him. Been hearing stuff like that re: Vettel for the past 4 seasons, so again fair's fair. 😉


Who said that? Am I busted drunk-commenting?


Not you Sebee, but others. Y'know who.

Any driver needs a very good car to win the title. Most need the best car to win the title. Sometimes a driver can win the title without the WCC car, but it's rare (HAM the last in 2008).

That (WDC w/o the WCC car) used to be an entry in the Wiki entry for F1 driver records, though it's been removed lately. Some busy little bees out there.


Hi James,

Hamilton's time was set on Supersofts .


It was on supersofts according to Finnish media and Sky Sports as well.


So credits go for Manos and Tealeaf!


No it wasn't, he switched to super softs at the end like Rosberg did yesterday but didn't set a competitive lap time on them for some reason.


He certainly switched to supersofts, but the fast lap was on soft previously. He backed out of the supersoft lap.


all that matters is the race results.


It was used softs, went out on supersofts and abandoned the lap, as for the oz gp, flip a coin whos going to win that one, it doesn't matter how quick the car is at the moment, I think all the drivers will just be praying for a reliable car, its not going to be dull, thats for sure..


I read elsewhere his fastest time was on soft, and his supersoft run sector 1 was fastest of test then he backed off


No both runs were on super softs.


You are wrong again, Tealeaf!




Hamilton set his fast time on soft tyres, then Mercedes announced they were sending him out on supersoft when he did a very fast first sector, and then backed off because I think that gave Mercedes all they needed to know. - They could easily extrapolate what his lap time would have been. - Certainly below 1.33.

Correct me if I'm wrong but I think Massa time was on the supersoft which would then make the Mercedes the fastest car. - but we'll see come Melbourne.

supersofts just a fast first sector


Are we 100% on that? I thought he was on softs for his fast lap, and then went to super-softs and set the fastest first sector, but didn't improve on his soft-tire lap.


Max Chilton for Champ then!?


James can you give us your opinion on the state of play after the tests going into melbourne and the first 4 races


Is it me or is it looking like Mercedes up front, coin toss P3 onwards?


Right now thats about it Sebee.. But just remember some teams find a magic 1 sec come melbourne & then these cars.. Who knows which ones will even finish..Could be a merc stop after T1


Yes. The season is over before it begins. The obvious conclusion to be drawn from testing is that Rosberg will win the WDC, Merc the WCC.

Sorry Sebee, no (V)ETTEL T-Shirts this year mate. I'm jumping ship and leaving RBR behind. I'll be back if they start dominating again 😉

Go Rosberg 😉



So I can keep wearing my iVettel shirt for a bonus year? We have all just won.



Don't use any voodoo on your 1:18 RB9 while you're watching the GPs!

KRB is right. There will be a contest. And it looks like it will be Rosberg vs Hamilton.



"This year, unlike late last year, there will be an actual contest for race wins."

I bet there won't be...


Over before it begins?!? I can't believe some people! This year, unlike late last year, there will be an actual contest for race wins. Even if the Merc is the best car (still TBD people!), then Hamilton-Rosberg will be a much better fight than between an improving and favoured Vettel against a declining and on-his-way-out Webber!

Plus no more bulletproof (or near bulletproof) reliability as there was last year. A leading car could develop trouble on ANY lap. That alone should keep eyes glued to TV sets.


We will look at this in depth shortly


James, would it also be possible to get best sector times? Ideally splitting between those set during short runs and long runs, if possible. Thanks.


Hamilton S1 29.427 / S2 40.520 / S3 23.274 - if he had put them together on same lap he'd have done a 1m 33.221

Alexander Supertramp



Looking forward to it!


James - any idea what Hamiltons best first sector time was and how does that correlate against the next fastest team in that sector?


Eight red flags today, including failures for Williams, McLaren, and Ferrari. This season looks like being another black eye for F1, on top of the tyre fiasco last season.


[mod] Continuous reliability issues have been a hallmark of the formula since it began. It's only in the past few years the cars became bullet proof.

If every car worked perfectly it would be dull as dishwater. Cars failing is part of the thrill of motor racing. It's heartbreaking but also adds to the drama of a season.


Disagree. Nothing wrong if only a handful of cars finish the first race. Was F1 ruined by Monaco 1996? It's good that the technology and the engineers is being pushed finally and they're struggling. It's what F1 being the pinnacle should be about and just shows how in terms of power trains at least, the sport was kind of standing still.

Watching the engineers get on terms with the new technology over the season will be a testament to the brains and innovation of those in F1.

Of course if the whole season was to be one of a car wreak, that would be one thing. But that won't happen.

F1 has played it conservative for too long.


Monaco was not about reliability it was rain and several accidents from drivers spinning off atleast know the facts before you compare!


It was a bit of everything. Tell that to Damon Hill! But yes, it was more accident filled but my example was for it being more a case of very few cars finishing.


I remember Monaco 1996 - that was when Panis won - from 14th on the grid! At Monaco!


Poor reliability was a major part of F1 for decades. It's only in the last few years that F1 has got to a point where 90% of the cars are getting to the chequered flag.

In fact poor reliability has thrown up some of F1's defining moments and highlight seasons; few fans will forget Mansell's last lap retirement at Canada in 1991 having been waving to the fans in celebration moments before. Or Monaco in 1982 where retirements cost a handful of drivers to lose the lead in the last few crazy laps. Or the lightning quick but failure prone McLaren of 2005 which arguably cost Raikkonen the championship to the more consistent Renault.

Reliability has been taken for granted in recent years due to the superb engineering of these F1 brainiacs. But the slate has been wiped clean. Bring on the predictable unpredictableness!! 🙂


Wasn't Nige's last lap failure in Canada down to him accidentally hitting the kill switch?


Why? Reliability has been a non factor. Now it will be back for a while.

Oz will be an episode of Survivor. It's neen a while since we had that.


Totally. I've got to wonder whether half the cars will even finish the first race. Whilst I have zero knowledge of engineering, given how long they have had to work on the engines it seems crazy how unreliable they are.


These are brand new and extremely complicated engines using cutting edge technology. When you combine that with the extremely limited testing allowed, reliability problems are inevitable.


Reliability is a relatively new thing in F1 Until very recently regularly half the field wouldn't finish, I remember Monaco having quite a high attrition rate. So you could say it's back to the future, at least for the first half of the season anyway.


I just picked one year I remember quite well:


Nearly half the field retired (both over and under) in the first races of the 1992 season.


Even in the early 2000s this was still the case. It's only since the engine / gearbox use limits were imposed that reliability improved to current levels.


What's your idea of "very recently"? You have to go back to the 1970's to find a time when half the field regularly failed to finish.


Again, short memories...


"Any damn fool can build a bridge, that won’t fall down. But it takes a man of much greater skill to build a bridge that JUST won’t fall down" – Keith Botsford on Chapman’s design philosophy

You see - these guys are trying to build something that is right on the edge of disaster to not waste a single gram or horsepower. And since they can't simulate everything and they try to build something to the limit anyway, it will eventually fail.

So they analyze the problem, fix it, and try again, hoping the fix was just enough to make it work long enough.


A comment worth reading. Informative, well written opinion based on observation and reasoning. Thank you.


"If it won't BREAK - it's too heavy." Who said that?


Or it shows how challenging the task is. And from a marketing point of view we've had 4 years and Red Bull and Renault success and the associated PR of how good Renault is. Now though, the impression to the world is of Mercedes being ones with great innovative abilities and Renault look a bit naff.

What I'm saying is that, the new power units can really showcase an engine manufacturers talents, which will appeal to them bring involved in the sport, like with Honda. So a good thing! 🙂


If there is an Aquilles heel for the Mercedes powered teams now, that's their gearboxes. In 2 days they have had 3 gearboxes failures, and I think they had some more in previous tests. They get the performance award of the preseason, but reliability award goes to Maranello.


Why? Mercedes, McLaren and Williams will all manufacture their own gearboxes (FI taking the Merc unit) so you can't lump them in together. Ferrari, Marussia and Sauber have all had their litany of technical problems as well over the tests with both Sauber and Marussia having been forced into engine changes over that time.


There is something missing in your comment, the reason why car failures translate to that "black eye". The are plenty why it doesn't, the main that struggling with a challenge, is what makes it a challenging, and that the pinnacle of motorsports deserves a fitting challenge.


For the exact same reason the tyre failures translated to that black eye. The car failures, like the tyre failures, are something manufactured by a party outside the teams - the FIA.

If making the sport "challenging" is all that counts then we should have done what Bernie wanted to begin with and turned on the sprinklers at every track. If that's not challenging enough we could sprinkle oil on the track instead of water.


Tyre failures in the distant past were the result of the technology of the past not being up to scratch. Tyre failures in 2013 were manufactured deliberately, with testing which would have helped Pirelli to solve the problems curtailed.

Engine failures in the past were the natural consequence of the technology of the time colliding with the need for greater power. Engine failures this year, like the tyre failures last year, are the deliberate consequence of the lack of testing permitted.

Just as the FIA ended up having to take action part way through last season as the racing veered between farce and tragedy, the FIA this season may well have arrange extra engine testing sessions. If we see only half a dozen cars completing the first few races, which seems very possible, than the FIA will have to act.

Innovation did not cause the tyre failures or the engine failures. It's the combination of innovation with restrictions on testing which causes failures. That's not a combination which existed in the "good old days" of F1.


F1 for the past decade has not been about innovation in motorsport. In truth it's been a half-spec series, with the engines frozen and 'equalized'.

About time F1 put the 'motor' back into motorsport. And to think it was Renault that was pushing for it! I think it's also a bit of 'just desserts' that the manufacturers that benefitted by skimping on KERS research before (e.g. RBR running no KERS in 2009-10, and mini-KERS in 2011), are now feeling some pain with the new regulations.


The car failures are due to the teams pushing these cars to the limit. Unlike the old V8s, this is brand new, exciting technology.

F1 has always seen high rates of reliability failures, except during the 2000s and beyond when we saw the cars get less high tech due to cost saving. The V8s were ancient.


Thats complete and total rubbish. Mechanical reliability has been part of the sport since day 1, 100 years ago. The only reason we've had bullet proof reliability recently is because they've been using the same frozen spec hardware for 8 years and even that was based on tech that everybody had been developing along for 50 years. Now thats un-F1.



Points or no points for RBR is Australia? Time to put it on record.


James, has anyone considered how the Renault cars are going to survive the warm up lap in Melbourne?

I don't know how they will keep them cool enough.

I'm predicting we will lose two cars on the grid and have a delayed start.

They may just dodge a bullet as the current forecast for Melbourne is fairly cool with showers, but if any cars do overheat on the grid in Melbourne, then, how many in Sepang only two weeks later?


No points, my prediction is that no Renault powered car will finish the race.

If their problems are with ERS as reported, they won't have enough fuel to rely on the V6 alone, and even if the ERS fails mid way through and they can carry on with enough fuel to the end, the loss of horsepower will leave them finishing many laps down on the Merc and Ferrari powered cars.

I hope I'm wrong...


Good point about the fuel, I haven't realized that it is basically impossible to finish the race with only the V6 running, but Catherham have done a bunch of laps this last test, maybe they could finish, I guess the horrible nose is a secret development to cool the PU.


I'll say points. They'll realise they are in deep and have no option but to compromise everything they know for reliability in Oz, still banking on a big dose of luck.

Others will be pushing for glory, intra team and team vs team, and will have issues be it near the start or a good way into the race.

One Bull finishes, I'll say 6th place, overtaking no cars 'racing on track'.

Alexander Supertramp

If they finish then yes..


Assuming they start!


Based on this week i dont think speed is critical for oz, reliability will be more so, who knows who will win...will eat my hat if its a red bull on the top step....

H.Guderian (ALO fan)

They will win (1st and 2nd) with hat trick.



I'm sure I've seen a more outrageous prediction in my time.......... I just can't quite remember when that was!!

H.Guderian (ALO fan)

Didn't you read here that "RBR is taking sandbaging to a whole new level"???


You said "points" (plural). What about "point" (singular)? DR in P10 & Vettel DNF.

Erm... On second thoughts, that above presumes that at least 10 cars will actually finish. To be honest, I'm not sure that will be the case. Oh well, DR in P9 then. 🙂

George Debenham

A few decades ago it could be said that the then common unreliability of the cars added some extra tension and excitement to the races.

With the new possibility of perhaps eight or more cars retiring from the early races of the season it must be considered that at least some of these stoppages will cause a safety car.

Can we expect to see as much as half a race carried out behind the safety car?

One question you may be able to answer James, it is very likely at the time of a safety car some cars may still be running but two or three laps adrift. Are these cars only allowed to pass the safety car once or do they have make up the number of laps they are adrift?


Good point re safety cars bet the teams will factor that in 100% into race strategy


No way, as a system failure usually lets the driver park the car, thus avoiding the SC.


What a topsy turvy winter testing this has been and with Mercedes and Williams both looking promising, once again that old saying that the nice looking cars tend to go well seems to be true.

Brilliant one lap pace from the Mercedes team for sure the fans are in for a treat during qualifying as Mercedes, Red Bull and Williams faceoff.

Seeing as Ferrari haven't made a qualifying simulation run this entire winter, it would appear the team aren't too confident then again, there are also the rumours of Ferrari's race pace not up to scratch because of high fuel usage.

I see Williams finally broke their car after consecutive 100+ lap days. In a way this is worrying because testing is were you're supposed to have numerous break downs and not in public during the season proper.

Congrats to Red Bull for notching up 74 laps but what we have seen, the team has a good day followed by a bad day, it's like 2 steps forward and 1 step back for the team.

Dismal final day by the likes of Mclaren and Lotus with a few laps onboard hopefully, they can sort themselves out in time Melbourne.

Finally, with Marussia's performance, they look set to take advantage in 2014 of any carnage upfront which of course would feel like a win for a backmarker team.


Redbull? How are they in the quali battle for Melbourne? Sure Vettel and Ricciardo are lightning quick but they're over 2.5sec a lap slower!!! They'd do well to get within 2sec of Merc in quali.


And how many qauly simulations have RB run? By my count none is the answer, but every other driver out there is very impressed with the grip that car has so I'd be shocked if they arent in the hunt.


@ Tealeaf

I believe when Red Bull get sorted, they will be up there.


Actually Vettel himself is recorded as saying even when they have fixed the reliability, they still don't have the pace to take on the front runners. Newey has overcooked the goose, now he has to strip it back and start again. It could be half year before they are anything like competitive. I mean how could they have with an underpowered engine for starters! It will be next year before the Renault engine will be anything like up to scratch.


Seem to recall them saying they same thing about Mclaren last year.


I dont see how you can include Red Bull in the qualifying fight, at the moment they would be lucky to get out of the bottom teams


@ kev

Many experts believe the Red Bull is fast only held back by unreliability.

With sometime to go before the lights go out, the team have more time to fine tune the machine.


Problem is , the car hasnt run at fulll blat, the handling and balance when the car is pushed is unknown, you just cannot say yet just what the car is


Understand they have a 100 Km "photo day" tomorrow. Do not know how beneficial that will be but can't hurt.


Red Bull really are playing the "just in time" philosophy to the max.

Williams seem to have the best car followed by Mercedes and Ferrari with FI not too far behind.

Lotus are in deep trouble and Mclaren seem to have lost their way after looking strong early on..


It's taken me awhile to notice, how the Ferrari car name F14T looks like FIAT... An omen? 😉


oh dear!!

I saw a red Fiat 500 a couple of weeks ago with a rather special reg number

it was F14TTT spaced to read F14T TT


from: http://www.allacronyms.com/FIAT

Failure In Automotive Technology

Fix It Again Tony

Failed In A Tunnel

Fails In Attempted Turns

Found In A Trench

F'ing Idiot Assembled This

..but if it's that bad, what on earth could "red bull" stand for at the moment?


What, you mean Fix It Again Tony 😉


"During the time extension, Alonso set Ferrari’s quickest time of these Bahrain tests, using a set of SOFT tyres to post a lap one second adrift of Hamilton’s best."

Wasn't his time set with supersoft tyres? If it was with "only" soft ones, then Ferrari is up there with Mercedes, but i think it was with the red compound.


Even if it was set on softs, its still a second slower than Rosberg's fastest lap from the second test, also on softs!


Yes, but have in mind the dif between soft and super soft goes about 0.7-1.0 sec. The diference between the other compounds from soft down to hard is 1.3-1.5 (per compound) according to Pirelli.


Well the Merc in Rosberg's hands set a same time as Hamilton's on the softs, Merc are quicker than Ferrari.


But you don't know what fuel setting they were on. Those fast laps might well be 'showboating' and outside of the fuel delta. I say 'might' and we'll only know in the first 3 races.


I´m asking myself the same question. I know that Alonso set a time in supersoft at some point.I´d like a clarification on his tyres when he set his best time.


Haven't seen a picture from Day four of the Ferrari on the Supersofts. When the car stopped on track it had the Yellow (soft) tires, earlier they were running the White (Medium) tires. I think Ferrari restricted themselves to the tire selection for Melbourne (Medium & Soft) as those are the compound they will have available three of the first four races.


No mention of Marrusia, Caterham or Torro Rosso?

F1 doesn't revolve around Ferrari, RBR and Mercedes only...


If you believe half the comments it revolves around Mercedes and Ferrari only.


And if you believe half of those comments it revolves around Ferrari only 😉


In all seriousness though, Fernando's manager did have discussions with Red Bull last summer. OK, nothing came about for 2014, but 2015? Who knows? Truth is stranger than fiction in the F1 paddock.................


If these pigs keep flying around some birds are going to be out of job 🙁


Ahem (cough) Red Bull or Mercedes?

Pigs flying again!


Anything is possible, but where would Alonso go?


Random, I wonder if Ferrari don't win WDC or constructors this year could Stefano be given his marching orders?

And could Fernando turn his back on the Scuderia if they fail to come upto championship standards this year?

Stranger things have happened........


You are right and I bet Marussia and Caterham consider Australia as a distinct possibilty to get their first points if they can keep their cars running.


Would be nice to see an answer to that question...


well said


Hmmm i think you'll find it does cos the teams mentioned score 95% of all the points every year.


It doesn't?

Better check with Bernie on that!


Mercedes on balance look the favourites for Melbourne, Williams look strong too but have flattered to deceive in testing before, I just find it hard to believe they'll be up there rubbing shoulders with McLaren and Ferrari when the lights go out in anger.

Wonder why Hamilton didn't go on to set a fast super-soft lap like Rosberg? If they didn't want to give the game away surely there was no point putting them on in the first place?


I agree every year in pre-season tests the Williams flatters to deceive - at least they are fairly reliable. Looks like the opening race will be a Mercedes procession just a question of Hamilton or Rosberg. Ferrari look in trouble as they cannot understand where the other teams are getting an extra 75 bhp from (unless Ferrari are sandbagging turning their engines down). Redbull look unlikely to finish the race.


The Merc is faster than the Williams since their time was on supersoft, and Hamilton's was on on soft. Pirelli say there is about 0.7 sec. difference so that's a sizeable advantage for a start. I also think we saw the raw pace advantage Hamilton has over Rosberg there because Rosberg was on supersoft and was approx. 0.2 sec. slower than Massa. I think this car and this formula is set to demonstrate some of Hamilton's legendary raw pace.


Elie: Indeed they were! As ever we cannot read too much into test times because we don't know who is really pushing and what the fuel loads are, but in these qualifying runs we have a pretty good idea!


& they were USED


May not have had time in the program. Remember he was benched with gearbox problems early in the session.


Hamilton did use the super softs, it was Rosberg that didn't use the super softs so it makes Nico's time and the Merc car more impressive, inter team battle will be interesting.


Incorrect Hamilton's fast time was on the soft tyre, and faster than Rosberg. Read the article and learn something for god's sake.


No Rosberg set his time on the super softs, Hamilton used the super softs but his time was set on the softs (I think). Rosberg had a comparable time on the softs last week though, so basically in terms of time they're pretty even.


So good to see Williams putting up some good numbers. Any details on McLaren's day 4 performance issues available?


We now know that 2 Merc engines reached high mileage failures. Mercs was just shy of 3000km - but what was McLarens mileage? Both Williams and Force India have done some high mileage - are they able to make the engines last longer?

We don't really know what the Ferrari engine life yet - but we do know that Renault will be lucky to make high mileages!

Does anyone know what a typical race weekend distance is? It looks like we will see PU penalties come year end - but will we see the leading teams having to fight through the grid to win ... just as Renault get themselves sorted?


305km, except for Monaco, which is 260.520km.


I don't fancy your chances in a race much - as you don't do any practice or quali!

Why don't people take the time to read a comment before posting a meaningless reply?!


But to answer your reply, teams do more running in practice to determine set-up requirements, but everyone's program is different so saying a typical mileage for a race weekend would be difficult to say with great accuracy.


I'd expect race weekend running to be around 600km, sop that 3000km would be about 5 races which is about 1 more than they need the engine to go.


That's what I expected them to be aiming at for engine life... so where are Ferrari and Renault compared to this?


Who knows? The only Ferrari engine changes I know of are with Marussia when they had to do 2 in 2 days last week and Sauber I think had to change an engine last week as well. For Ferrari themselves I've not seen any reports of high millage engine changes, though given the number of laps they've put in I'd say they've made at least one engine change.

I think the only Renault team thats got close to the limit with millage would be Caterham, and thats from running with heavily reduced settings to make sure it can run. I don't think there's any way to tell with the Renault yet.


By which I mean the first complete lap over 300km.

Take Aus for example: Melbourne is 5.303km.

At 300km you've done 56.5 laps, so you add the extra half a lap to bring it up to 57 laps, and then you add the next complete lap, which is why Melbourne is 58 laps and 307.5km race distance 🙂


Races run to the first lap that takes it over 305km distance, except for Monaco.



You're right, but I'm pretty sure they've changed it since I last looked at it.


oh dear!

a few km here and there on race distance is only of interest for the 100kg of fuel. The point I was raising was the distance an engine would need to last over a race weekend!

As of now we have no idea how far the Renault or Ferrari engines can go before going pop. If they can only do 2000km their teams are in serious trouble. Ferrari might be on or near the pace but that is pointless if they can only do this for 15 races.


Ah okay, I misunderstood 🙂

It would depend on how much running they do during practice, which varies.

But given each engine has to do three or four GPs you might well be right about some being in trouble.

Get ready for a lot of grid drop penalties 🙁


Nearest complete lap after 300km, so it's always a little more than that.

Alexander Supertramp

typical race distance is in the 300k area..


We know that!

Each engine needs to cover 4 race weekends - so that's 1200KM then add 12 practice sessions and 4 Quali sessions and how much is that on each engine?

We have a pretty good idea of how long a Mercedes engine will last - but is that enough?

As for the others... it doesn't look good!


I've just had a thought that it might be Hamilton and Massa battling it out for the championship as in 2008. It's all too easy though to go into the season with pre-conceptions of which team will be leading, and of course it's a long season. It will be interesting to see how Red Bull pick themselves up, but at this point they look neither reliable or competitive.


Lewis should concentrate on Rosberg first before he even starts to worry about Felipe.


I expect Lewis will be concentrating on the road ahead rather than whose next to him on the grid, but don't underestimate Massa, given a car that suits him he'll be fast.


Not if Rosberg and Bottas has anything to say with it.

I so clearly feel, Bottas is gonna be another headache for Massa. Can't compare Lewis with Rosberg with last year's results. Nico had a lot of Mech failures contributing to his lower ranking on the leader board in 2013. Just plain bad luck.


He also inherited a win off of Lewis' bad luck! I've shown many times how Hamilton's bad luck last season cost him more points than Rosberg's. I guess I should file away stock responses to these theories that some posters refuse to let die. It's like communists who insist that their system is the best, it's just that it's never been implemented properly anywhere before. It's just sad.


Don't forget that every time Rosberg had this so called bad luck last year he was behind Lewis.


All of your comments have valid points. Its just that, 2 top drivers in the same team driving the same quick car is more of an intriguing challenge which has to be looked out for right?

Why is everyone all excited about Raikkonen and Alonso in the same team? For the same reason.

Especially when it seems Mercedes has a car that can fight for the world Championship at this stage, both the drivers know, it is make or break in the first GPs when Merc will be scoring points like crazy. Both drivers are intelligent enough to try and beat the other to grab a hell lot of points in the first races until Say REDBULL or Ferrari catch up! It is going to be fascinating how the team handles these 2 more than how Ferrari handles Raikkonen and Alonso. Seems to me, in Ferrari the scene is going to be like 2007 where apart from the first race, Massa had the upper hand over Raikkonen who is adjusting to the new team in the first half and Raikkonen finding his way i nthe second half.


Let's not also forget that Lewis had to contend with brakes that didn't suit him, lacked feel, and of course had the tyre failure in a race he would have won giving the race to Rosberg through Vettel. He also had a car that was not set up properly much of the time.- The reasons are unclear! I agree though Rosberg is a very able and fast driver and they will push each other for sure, however I do feel with cars equally set up Hamilton is the faster both in qualifying and the race. Bottas is also a strong driver, but again I feel Massa will get the better of him perhaps partially through experience, but with the right car Massa can be very fast indeed, and he feels at home in the Williams for sure. Driver comparisons are fraught with difficulty because things are not always what they seem and straightforward.


Yes, but everyone who points out Rosberg's bad luck seems to ignore Silverstone last year, and that at no race was Hamilton truly happy with the W04 (a car Rosberg had been with since the W01).

Hamilton is easily one of the strongest qualifiers on the grid, and he and Rosberg should be equal in car understanding this year. Rosberg's going to need to deliver a better performance than he has previously to beat Hamilton.


Hamilton needs to be battling someone like Massa to win the championship, even then it'll be a huge struggle if the cars are evenly matched.


Gee, I wonder how many times you can repeat a false statement! You really want to believe that, don't you?


It's actually meant as self-therapy, it's just that we have to bear witness to it as well. 😉


Now we know where the cars are at its time to wait and speculate where the drivers are in terms of fitness,experience and drive.

The top car is looking to be mercedes,in Bahrain at least, this will give the silver arrows a problem in terms of how do they handle hamiltons pace with a car that needs to be economic on fuel, what if Rosberg is in front?

Williams I reckon would love massa to help Bottas but Bottas has to show he has got what it takes in the first 3 races.

Mclaren have a car and the drivers to win this year but there season could be ruined if Magnesson winds up Button like Hamilton did Alonso all those years ago, Has Button still got the fire after a poor year of not really doing much?

What where the hell are Ferrari thinking taking on the mad finn? Was that deal to do with money? Alonso should be the top dog still but this is a make or break year for him, talk of retirement or a big money move to formula e is what I hear here in Spain.

Lotus will be lucky to finish this year with the rapid rate that people are leaving the team, Romain Grosjean needs to step up and take this team forward, he needs to be a leader now!

Ricardo is in the trail of a wizard now and will just polish the boots of vettel for a few years, he is only there to keep Webber quite.

who else is there? Hulkenberg too heavy? Sutil to crazy? Chilton maybe?


“Mclaren have a car and the drivers to win this year but there season could be ruined if Magnesson winds up Button like Hamilton did Alonso all those years ago…”

It was not HAM who did wind up ALO – he has not gotten the talent to manage that over the course of a season, as very clearly demonstrated in the final standings of the last four consecutive seasons – it was R Dennis. And I am sure, now that he is back, he has learned a good lesson in driver management from that season.

Sorry for the double post, as prev one was posted in the wrong place.


Yeah, it was Dennis' plan all along to hire the DWC, and then to embarrass him with a rookie? It doesn't make sense, never did, never will.

Hamilton surprised Ron and the team with how quick he was, simple as that. He hung around in the standings (hung around's an understatement, as he was leading, even with team orders enforced in Monaco, in Alonso's favour, even though it was a sensible use of them), and then after Alonso's mistake at Fuji, Hamilton should've been backed to the hilt by the team, though they still let Alonso race him. Any other time the trailing driver in that scenario would have to help the leader wherever they could. But I guess not when it's a rookie takin' it to his World Champion teammate.

Alonso will never team with Hamilton again, that much is for sure.


quattro, that's easy. Alonso has simply been more consistent than Hamilton the last four years, mainly b/c he's been in a situation (clear #1 status) that he needs to do well.

Alonso didn't have that in 2007. He thought he should've been afforded it, and he was in some instances early on. But when he asked the team to make Lewis cede the lead of the USA GP to him, he had gone too far and asked for too much, and the team refused. Alonso took great umbrage at this, and was off his game. Then trying extortion as a tactic blew up in his face.

I'd imagine any of us would encounter a frosty reception from our employer if we'd just set them up to get a 100m fine!

Meanwhile, while Fernando had a lapdog as a teammate, Hamilton was taking on another DWC teammate (I guess 2010 makes Lewis 2-0 against reigning DWC teammates?), then in a new team last year against a quick, decent, and settled driver in Rosberg.

I don't think Hamilton cares a whit whether he finishes 2nd, or 5th, in any given season. Finishing 1st is all that matters!

It's going to make interesting viewing watching how Alonso copes with Kimi being in the team. His history of coping in these situations is poor. Any little perceived 'benefit' that Kimi derives from the team will be blown up all out of proportion in Alonso's mind. I believe Alonso's more than a little paranoid. I would hazard a bet that his mental state from GP to GP will be one of the storylines of this season.


Ok, so now open some web page were you can see the final standings of previous seasons. Please explain to me how Hamilton, who is not a rookie any more and thus has way more experience than in 2007 - explain to me how on earth he gets beaten each and every year in the last four seasons by ALO. Please explain to me how on earth, if he as a rookie could beat ALO in 2007 fair and square and in the same package as you choose to see it, how he fails to beat ALO on the final standings in four consecutive seasons even though each of those years he had to his disposal a car that was as fast and most often faster than the Ferrari of ALO?

If you cannot, then you cannot either rule out that in 2007 some really fishy things were in the works at that team that for sure affected the final outcome.

PS. In the 2nd part of 2007 ALO did not even feel that his family who visited the paddock could be at the Mclaren garage - they were in the Renault garage instead even though ALO was driving for Mclaren. What does that tell of the working environment ALO must have had at "his team" the rest of that year?

It WAS Hamiltons team, and ALO the double world champion who just recently had beaten both RAI and SCH...was just the #2 driver...ironical isn't it. YET he finished on equal # of points as the rookie who "beated" him.


U suggest hamilton cant manage fuel…seriously what do you base this on? In fact it is the team with data who manage fuel usage over radio so your comment does not add up


This is why I said " how do They handle his pace " and what I meant was Lewis is so quick he won't want to run around on 3/4 throttle if Rosberg is leading, I guess you were reading too fast,maybe you need I fuel flow rate control fitted on your fingers so your brain has time to catch up.


It's well known that Lewis can't manage his tires, or his pace, or his fuel and that he's too aggressive all all three.

At least, "well known" by the fans (sarcastically speaking).

Hamilton's results, and his team, seem to indicate otherwise, but what do they know?


Assuming that lap count is what tells us which teams are in good shape for Oz, here's the stats:

Team: Laps - % - Engine

1. Mercedes: 4967 - 100% - Mercedes

2. Williams: 4894 - 99% - Mercedes

3. Ferrari: 4488 - 90% - Ferrari

4. McLaren: 4154 - 84% - Mercedes

5. Sauber: 4039 - 81% - Ferrari

6. Force india: 3976 - 80% - Mercedes

7. Caterham: 3313 - 67% - Renault

8. Toro Rosso: 2458 - 49% - Renault

9. Red Bull: 1711 - 34% - Renault

10. Marussia: 1686 - 34% - Ferrari

11. Lotus: 1288 - 26% - Renault

That percentage tells us that for example Ferrari managed 90% of Mercedes' laps, Red Bull only 34% and so on. Maybe kilometers would give more accurate view.

Doesn't look too bad for top six.


Autosport released a nice summary of the preseason tests. Slight differences in the figures and much more data. Check it out.



Thanks Fireman, interesting information.


Those certainly can't be the lap counts? That would imply, for example, that Mercedes drove on average over 400 laps per day, which is clearly incorrect. Maybe those are the kilometers each team managed over the tests?



You're right! Thanks for pointing that out.

So, this is the accurate view 😀


Assuming your stats are correct (and I'll trust you, even if no-one else will 😉 ), it's amazing to see that Caterham has done almost twice as much running as Red Bull.

By now Lotus would have to be regretting their decision to miss the first test.


The source is Forix.com.


Yep, F1.com has the same stats 🙂


Can anyone confirm that redbull are staying on an extra day in bahrain, for "promo work", anyone!...


Yes, they're using one of their filming days, where you get to do a limited amount of running; all the teams get one or two a year.


And if there's one thing that you can be sure of it's that Red Bull will be doing a limited amount of running 😉


Oh snap 😀


Yes, see James above.

There is always a get out card in F1 ......

Alexander Supertramp

What about a secret test in Barcelona? Nobody picked up the rumour..


I heard about it. However looking at their performance in official tests, well the unofficial was useless. If it took place. As you said it was a rumour.


Yes they are, 100% positive.


Vettel: Christian, my car won't start again 🙁

Horner: Just smile and wave Seb 🙂

Vettel: But you said I'd get to... 🙁

Horner: I know what I said, but just smile and wave... 🙂


End of 2014 season,

Sebastian, you are the 5 time World Champion. Congratulations.

yes Yes yes...we'll show them.....(with the famous index finger pointing skywards at the camera)


Always a possibility 🙂


They're filming on Monday.

Though word is the director of photography wants to set up the cameras in the pitlane - to be sure he gets a shot of the car. 😉


Lol 🙂


Given Williams "high mileage" failure on their ICE can it we assumes that they did the three test sessions on a single power unit? If they did it speaks volumes for the reliabilty of the Mercedes motor and will cause some long faces at teams who did have to change PUs! From memory I think Ferrari, Sauber and Marussia had engine changes but did anyone else make their full distance on one motor?


Can you believe it?! Neither Magnussen nor Hamilton, but Massa set the overall fastest time in Bahrein!

I would never have guessed … roll on Melbourne!! 2014 is gonna be epic!


Don't get too excited - Massa's time was set with SuperSofts while Hamiltons time was on Softs ( and used softs too ) . If its true that there's 0.7s between the two compounds it means that Hamilton would have been about half a second faster than Massa if he actually wanted to really go for it.


James if you have the info could you please extrapolate what Hamilton's lap time would be on the supersofts by comparing the percentage difference in the first sector times.

H.Guderian (ALO fan)

Bahrain Day One (Feb, 27)

Kimi: 1:36.432s

Bahrain Day Two (Feb, 28)

Alo: 1:35.634s

Bahrain Day Three (Mar, 01)

Kimi: 1:35.426s

Bahrain Day Four (Mar, 02)

Alo: 1:34.280s (SOFT tyres, not super soft)

Best Kimi Time: 1:35.426s

Best Alo Time: 1:34.280s (1.2sec faster)

Do you guys know what that mean???

*NOTHING* (We don't know what they were testing, fuel levels, nothing. We know nothing).

So people should be very carrefull when they say that Kimi was 1/2sec faster on long runs than Alonso, right??? 😉


James, are you sure Alonso did his best time on a set of softs? There are so many websites giving different data that I've got really confused. And being a Ferrari fan, a bit worried too - I don't want to believe Merc is a full second in front of Ferrari...

Is there any official source of information that shows the tyre compounds?

Cheers, Bart


Pirelli have provided the tyre information from today:
1. L Hamilton Mercedes 1m33.278s Soft Used
2. V Bottas Williams 1m33.987s Soft New
3. F Alonso Ferrari 1m34.280s Supersoft New
4. N Hulkenberg Force India 1m35.577s Supersoft New
5. J-E Vergne Toro Rosso 1m35.701s Supersoft New
6. A Sutil Sauber 1m36.467s Supersoft New
7. M Chilton Marussia 1m36.835s Supersoft New
8. E Gutierrez Sauber 1m37.303s Supersoft New
9. S Vettel Red Bull 1m37.468s Soft Used
10. J Button McLaren 1m38.111s Medium New
11. K Kobayashi Caterham 1m38.391s Soft New
12. R Grosjean Lotus 1m39.302s Soft New


Does it say anywhere what hamiltons 1st sectors time on super softs was?


29.427s on his fastest lap on softs


Doesn't necessarily means that "super soft" was the fastest rubber compound on a given hour and day .


U suggest hamilton cant manage fuel...seriously what do you base this on? In fact it is the team with data who manage fuel usage over radio so your comment does not add up


"Mclaren have a car and the drivers to win this year but there season could be ruined if Magnesson winds up Button like Hamilton did Alonso all those years ago..."

It was not HAM who did wind up ALO - he has not gotten the talent to manage that over the course of a season, as very clearly demonstrated in the final standings of the last four consecutive seasons - it was R Dennis. And I am sure, now that he is back, he has learned a good lesson in driver management from that season.


Hi James, I have an off-topic question for you:

The question is regarding RBR: I was just wondering, RBR started in 2005, and they have had very average results until 2009 when they had the fastest car even without the double diffuser at first. So what made them dominate so much ever since? Now we see them " struggling" in testing, is it possible that they are gonna go back to their " old" form, 5th and 7th in the championship?

I hope my question makes sense: why is it that since 2010 they have completely dominated the sport, and they couldn't dominate from 2005 until then, and is it possible that their recent dominance is not gonna be replicated this year because the new " formula" doesn't suit them?

Toyota had the biggest budget in F1 for so much years and they never dominated, so money is not the only reason.




Or just maybe a young German replaced a Scotsman at the start of the 2009 season.........


Aerodynamics, resources for sure.

Engines were not a performance differentiator the last five years, aero was.

Now engines are a differentiator again and they don't have the best one at the moment!


i think the first leg of this years championship is going to provide a forgotten excitement to anyone who didn't watch pre 1993 and that is engine blow ups!

ever since renualt vs honda battles back in the day there hasn't really been the "will it make it to the end" repeating in my head, engines were always pushed to the limit as a new one could be used anytime without penalty and would often go out in style.

thats what i'm looking forward to this year, having cars breaking giving others a win or ruining it for them.

i don't expect close racing either, too few engines in reserve and heat is causing issues on a clear track.

lets hope there are plenty of engines blowing up because i doubt there will be much over taking.


On the contrary, having engines blow up will aid overtaking immensely.

It's part of the Overtaking Working Group's new strategy 😉


LOL! blow up as in power boost, you mean?


More like power loost 😉

Alexander Supertramp

Looking forward to some in depth analysis of the long runs, those should give the better view on the pecking order.

Anyone brave enough to make a prediction for the Australian GP?


Offering my neck to the Ax

Predictions for Melbourne

Mercedes or Ferrari to win. Reliability, Qualifying, Planning/Execution of race strategy and rear tire conservation will be the deciding factors.

McLaren and Williams will challenge but fall short of the top step. I expect Force India, Red Bull, and Sauber to have a car in the points. Lotus, Toro Rosso, Marussia and Caterham could find Melbourne a week too soon.


Sounds good:)


Mercedes to lock front row (Lewis on pole), Williams to lock 2nd row (Massa 3rd), Ferrari and McLarend to fight for 3rd and 4th rows (Alo 5th, But 6th, Kimi 7th). Both Ferrari jump two positions at the start, by lap 30 half renault powered cars have broken down or are racing some seconds per lap slower than the leader (still lewis), who will have a gearbox problem at the last part of the race. Marussia to score their first point ever as only 12 cars end the race and the last ones are the caterhams. Podium will be: 1 Ros, 2 Mas, 3 Alo.


Lewis always gets the bad luck, so I could very well see your scenario playing out.


"Anyone brave enough to make a prediction for the Australian GP"


At approximately 17:00 local time 22 slightly insane individuals will line up on the grid with the hope of completing approximately 307km in their magnificent driving machines.

Of course some of these individuals will end up being disappointed when their not so magnificent driving machine unexpectedly stops on the side of the road, but the one who manages to complete their 307km in the least amount of time will be termed the "winner" and will get to stand on a "podium" and splash fake champagne all over the first two individuals that followed him over the finish line.

So, how'd I do?

p.s. I should also add that I hope the "winner" will be named Ricciardo 😉


OK who remembers the first Ferrari win for Mansell with the first semi auto box? That car had awful reliability in the pre season then won first time out.

For the first time in ages I truly think could happen at the first race.


I think even the free practice sessions will be fun to watch now!

@James, are the engines used during FP the same ones for the race?


No, they mix them and make a change usually Saturday am. An old race engine from first 2/3 races usually ends up as practice engine for several events after that


That'll be interesting given the time it takes to change the power unit now.


this is where it will get interesting. With the engines taking so long to change there won't be time to make a change before quali. Any change will have to be after FP2.

Any failure of a unit on the Friday will cost a lot of set up time.

Byron Lamarque

Go Williams!

They have all my goodwill this season. Their rich and enduring legacy fully deserves a resurgence. Massa has always struck me as a stand up guy who got the short end of the stick at Ferrari between his unfortunate accident and the politicking of Alonso. I'd love to see him on the podium again having a go at the world championship. It's going to be an interesting season Nico vs Hamilton potentially for the lead. Alonso vs Kimi for the bragging rights ; )


Whatever the arguments, implication, frustrations.....the cars with ugly noses, the double points madness, the "rubbish sound" suggestions...

...all I can say is that two weeks is too long to wait for Melbourne. This could be the most random and exciting season for fans in my relatively short lifetime and I'm definitely looking forward to it


Alonso 340 kmh in speed trap.


The trap speeds we are seeing have been higher than I had thought they would be. Silverstone, Spa and Monza could be epic this year.


Wow - pretty impressive from a new engine!


Rosberg said wait till they get to China. Thinks with all the recovery boost energies and engine power they may be hitting 370k or about 230mph at the end of the straight!

Not sure if he meant just himself and Hamilton though 😉


alonso was constantly at the top of speed traps, so I don't think ferrari is noticeably down on power compared to merc.


It looks like merc is the strongest.

Ferrari is around 1.2-1.5 sec behind.

Williams is good, but they will fade away soon.

The second half of the year it will be merc fighting red bull.

Ferrari, williams and mclaren will fight for 3rd.

The Spanish Inquisitor

Another year lost for Alonso. Only fuel consumption can save Ferrari's season.


Your handle implies you are Spanish? Every Spaniard I ever met was an optimist. Have faith.


... or perhaps reliability, and the half second per lap Alonso brings.

"Giornata fantastica, FANTASTICA"


Well, that's testing down then.

The cars will be packed up and sent to Melbourne, where all our questions will at least be partly be answered.

At the moment, Merc V6 powered cars look in the pound seat, but that's assuming the Mercedes engined cars are bulletproof......that's a big supposition!

Anyway, good luck to the all teams and drivers, give us a season to remember.


A little off topic here but Lewis has described the RB10 as "stunning".

There has been a lot of people writing off Red Bull as they went too deep into last season with development. I would like to challenge that in the aero development. Remember in the second half of last year they changed their rear wing to a much lower profile, taking their speed trap readings from constantly at the bottom end of the charts to being consistently at the top end of the charts.

Ross Brawn commented back then that this will pay dividends this year with the smaller rear wing. If (and its a big If) RBR can get their power unit operating reliably at full power and cool their components better I think the other teams have a lot to fear...


RBR will continue to be the best in Aero for some time.

However the overall impact that aero superiority will have on race pace remains to be seen. We only know that the advantage is not gona as big as in the last couple of years.


My thinking exactly. They were running that skinny rear wing even in high speed suzuka which was unusual to say the least, yet still posting fastest 1st sector times. This year everyone is forced to run equivalent of lets say canada spec wing so RB looses the least on that front. They were able to that with the best exhaust blowing and downwash air stream from the front wing, thus sealing the diffuser edges enabling them to run extreme rake angles which in turn expands the very limited diffuser working area.

In short: RB generated much more rear DF from diffuser than anyone else, so they could run less rear wing with no loss on overall DF produced.



in preparation for Melbourne you and the other F1 commentators should make sure you are up-to-date with the FIA rules regarding DNFs and point scoring positions. For example, if only nine cars see the chequered flag, and the tenth placed care had an engine failure 15 laps from the end, does it score a point?!

Similarly, all should be aware of the new penalty system, and how many places cars will be demoted when the battery on the seventh power unit fails in Saturday qualifying. 🙂


I think the pecking order in Melbourne will be:-





Force India


Red Bull I think will be some time before they get their reliability sorted out, and then they have to contend with using an engine that's down on power relative to the Mercedes.


My feeling...

1. Merc/Ferrari/McLaren

2. Redbull

3. FI

Williams will fade...As they have prooven in the last few years. Bottas will pull over and park his car, while massa will be too slow and uncool in racing conditions.


Couple of minor typos in the article:

Felipe Mass's

valuable *change* to add miles (chance)


This is how I see the Driver Rankings per 2014 Melbourne

(alphabetical order)

A List [World Class, any Era]

Alonso, Hamilton, Raikkonen, Vettel

A-List [Extraordinary talent]

Hulkenberg, Rosberg

B List [talented, racer]

Button, Grosjean, Massa, Perez,

the Other non-rookie drivers are capable of great drives and moments of brilliance.

Kvyat and Magnussen have shown themselves to be ready and deserving

Ericsson is going to be severely tested, how he copes with flyaway races will be very interesting and telling.

Best Driver not on the Grid - Robin Frijns


Thoughts on pre-season testing - 2014 Edition

We have no information on which car/driver/PU combination will be able to go the fastest and farthest with the least.

The greater torque profiles of the PU systems are creating Gearbox reliability issues. Expect to see drive system failures for the first times in MANY years.

I suspect the Renault projections for heat output and cooling requirements were off the mark by 1-2 percent. Given the V-6 designs are nearly identical (bore, stroke, v angle, valve size, RPM, Direct Injection [500 bars], Variable valve timing, maximum fuel flow)we must assume they will be very similar in fuel efficiency potential. Therefore, the harvesting of Kinetic and Thermal energy becomes the dominate parameter for the PU.

Perhaps this is why Renault is on the back foot; they designed the PU to retain more heat. In the dyno room it works splendidly; on the track, wrapped in insulating body work and subjected to high G loads and unpredictable load cycles – not so well. Car component layout and packaging verse Aero design have exaggerated the problem for some designs.

Considering the above I suspect RBR (lead by Mr. Newey) has aimed for a very efficient design. I doubt he has produced a car with a handling disadvantage, if he can keep it from blowing up they could be harvesting the most heat and thus have more kW available in the ERS.



I would never count them out as they are a strong team, and they have taken a wrong path.

Vettel himself has said that even when the reliability is fixed they still lack pace compared to the front runners. Given that the Renault engine lacks powers relative to the Merc it will be next year before they can make the changes necesary to bring it in line. So while I fully expect Red Bull to improve, I doubt they will be competitive this year. Same goes for all the other Renault powered teams. In short Renault have hit their target for power output, but Mercedes have exceeded it and

I think that will tell this year.


Williams looks very impressive. Just hope they bring their testing reliability and pace to the races. Massa and Bottas stand a huge chance of battling for the WDC.

Feel sorry for Vettel though, from hero to almost zero with so little running. He looks ruffled in the interview but who could've blamed him. It will be a huge blow if both cars don't even finish in Melbourne.

Ferrari, still not sure about them until race begins.

McLaren's been kinda quiet and not grabbing any headlines.

Mercedes seems very strong but still going through some glitches, not major though.

I forgot about the turbo audio and look forward to a thrilling year. There will be surprises looming ahead.

In less than a fortnight the red light goes off!!!


Don't feel that sorry for Vettel! He's had four very good years, and is a multi-millionaire. He like all other racers will have to eat humble pie until he get's another shot, but I think his run may be over. - All depends on Newey really!


To date, RBR have not lost out on any points! This season of any season, it could be all over the map. Hamilton and Rosberg could lap 2s faster than everyone else, but then go kaput 10 laps out from the finish ...end result? 0 points!

Mercedes said they have GPS data that shows the RB10 is still the fastest through the corners. So whenever they and Renault figure out how to get the most from their engine, then they could be at the sharp end once more. Too much whining going on by too many RBR fans, and all in the absence of any real loss.