Rosberg fastest as first in-season test gets underway in Bahrain
Posted By: Justin Hynes  |  08 Apr 2014   |  5:42 pm GMT  |  88 comments

The first in-season test of 2014 got underway in Bahrain today, with Mercedes somewhat predictably setting the pace.

Nico Rosberg worked his way through 121 laps of the Sakhir circuit on his way to a best time of 1:35.697 and afterwards the German said his day’s work had focused on tyres and brakes.

“Our main aim today was to try different directions with set-up and to get to know the tyres a bit better,” he said. “You never stop learning how to get the best out of the tyres, so it has been a productive day from that perspective. We also did a bit of work on the brakes as this is an area I’m not 100 per cent happy with at the moment.”

Second-quickest was Nico Hulkenberg, the Force India driver posting 69 laps for a best time of 1:36.064, just over three tenths of back from Rosberg. Third-placed Fernando Alonso logged 68 laps for a time nine-tenths off P1, though the Ferrari driver did bring out the red flags in the morning session when he pulled over at Turn Two. Ferrari managed to get him back up and running in the morning session, however.

Kevin Magnussen was fourth for McLaren and despite what the team described as “lengthy set-up changes” over lunch the Dane managed to get through 102 laps. Williams’ Valtteri Bottas was fifth fastest but completed just 28 laps after the team ended its session with more than an hour left to run.

Marussia’s Max Chilton had a productive day, putting in 60 laps of the Bahrain International Circuit for a time of 1:37.678, which left him sixth on timesheet, ahead of Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo.

Ricciardo’s best time of 1:38.326 was 2.6s off Rosberg’s but as the Australian explained afterwards, a late start to the morning had seen them forego performance runs in favour of lengthier outings.

“We missed a little bit of time this morning but we made up for it in the afternoon. I think I was in the car for a good few hours,” said Ricciardo, who turned just a single lap before 11am local time. “We didn’t get in any performance runs today but we did some good long runs in the afternoon with three set-up changes and we got some good feedback from that. I think during last weekend we struggled a bit in P1 and P3, the daytime sessions in the heat, but the car felt a lot better today in those conditions, particularly on those long runs.

“We’re still a little behind but we’re chipping away and I’m sure over the course of this test and in China we’ll get a little bit closer,” he added. “For the moment, though, we’ll take every little bit we can get. We’re learning and we’re making progress.”

Behind Ricciardo, 18-year-old Sergey Sirotkin made his first appearance in F1 for Sauber. The Russian rookie put in 76 laps and finished 3.3s off Rosberg’s headline time.

It was another troubled day at Lotus, however. Pastor Maldonado completed just 16 laps before two separate power unit-related failures stopped the team in its tracks.

“This morning our programme was focused on aerodynamic work and we achieved a lot, even with a limited amount of laps,” said the Venezuelan. “This afternoon the plan was to work on performance, evaluating parts and set-ups, however we have not been able to run though the programme due to power unit issues. This is what testing is for even though we would have preferred to have been able to complete more laps today.”

Caterham’s Robin Frijns got through 63 laps in the morning session of the team’s test day for Pirelli but then a hydraulic failure called a halt to his work and that of the tyre manufacturer.

“When we finished the last run before lunch we found a hydraulic system leak that meant the guys had to take the floor and gearbox off and with the time it would have taken to rebuild the car we made the call to end the session early so we could prepare for day two,” said the Dutch driver.

Finally, Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat finished 11th with a time of 1:40.452 and 67 laps on the board.

Bahrain Test, – Day One Times
1. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 1:35.697, 121 laps.
2. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, 1:36.064, 69 laps
3. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 1:36.626, 69 laps.
4. Kevin Magnussen, McLaren, 1:36.634, 102 laps.
5. Valtteri Bottas, Williams, 1:37.305, 28 laps.
6. Max Chilton, Marussia, 1:37.678, 60 laps.
7. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing, 1:38.326, 91 laps.
8. Sergey Sirotkin, Sauber, 1:39.023, 76 laps.
9. Robin Frijns, Caterham, 1:40.027, 63 laps.
10. Pastor Maldonado, Lotus, 1:40.183, 16 laps.
11. Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso, 1:40.452, 67 laps.

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Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!

I guess it doesn’t take a genius to predict that Honda’s 2015 F1 engine will NOW have the compressor at the front and the turbine at the rear. A big advantage to coming late to the party !



Jenson Button seemed very upbeat about the pace of McLaren during the race at Bahrain, in spite of the DNF….and implied he was in contention for a podium position (3rd place spot of course).

Did you see that potential as I thought his race was OK but I could n’t see much evidence of McLaren making progress.

Dave Schofield

Do the teams get spare engines to use or do they have to use thier allocated engines for the season?


I wish Renault were allowed to improve their engines during the season.


Hi James, I was wondering if you and your technical advisor could do an article on what Mercedes do from here? They obviously have a commanding lead over the rest of the field but how do they tackle the development race? Do they go for an all out attack and develop their car as much as possible to extend their lead and try and get the WCC tied up by Silverstone? Do they develop the car but sit on the development parts until red bull etc start to get close to ensure nobody can copy any of their innovations and they have a bit in hand for next season? Or even (this one I think very unlikely) do they remove certain parts and reduce their advantage to stop other teams copying it? Or after a few more race’s start to concentrate on next year’s car and only develop this car if the opposition make big jumps in performance?

It must be a lovely position to be in to have this sort of dilemma. I would love to see Hamilton win the WDC but he is most exciting to watch when he’s fighting for it! Or starting out of position


OK will do


Does Sirotkin get his superlicense with this test?


Now all he needs is for his Mum to sign the permission slip 🙂


And his headmaster.


He did 300+ km of running so yes


How come Ferrari is now 3rd in the test? Are the taxis getting quicker?


I wouldn’t read much into these times. Look at the Bahrain race to find where Ferrari are, these test times are much slower than over the weekend.


They probably brought some development updates which actually work, which has to be said, is one hell of an achievement for the Italians.


They’ve taken some inspiration from the series of Taxi films!


Plenty of laps done today by Rosberg, let’s hope Lewis can get similar mileage tomorrow. Is Lewis only testing next years tyres tomorrow?


I know it’s testing and the teams are doing just that – testing, but it always seems strange to me that we get situations like Lotus only managing 16 laps because of multiple power unit failures, despite completing the race only a couple of days previously. Another example is RBR struggling to string together a dozen laps during the pre-season, then they finish strongly in the first three races.

Anyone with any thoughts on this?


I suppose Renault know they are behind so perhaps they are experimenting on their test engines to test power developments. Then when the races come, seeing as how they only have limited engines, they use more reliable settings that will get then to the end. Only a guess.


Maybe we should ask RB how much money they had to spend solving the problems from preseason?!


My only guess is that on race weekends the struggling teams are sticking to the best developed software they have, even if this is not optimal, it’s the safest settings they have. At testing they are trying out extreme new settings looking for performance but often getting dead ends. With red bull I think that’s just an example of pouring money and the brain-trust into it. Renault were embarrassed into working more closely with red bull to step it up a notch and I expect Newey relented slightly on his cooling issue packaging. It wouldn’t surprise me that lotus are struggling to even pay for Renault support…


Is it true that the Mercedes split turbo is the reason they are dominating James?


One of them, but it’s never one thing

It’s many years of careful planning around this type of power unit and its integration in the chassis.

Geoff Willis has done nothing else for 2012 and 2013 than work on this integration


It’s good to hear Geoff Willis is still with the team and doing a great job. He was there when the team was called British American Racing and Villeneuve and Panis were driving.


James, any reason why williams only managed 28 laps? Its not like they have to save their test engines


Lotus are really struggling.


Any clues why Lotus is having so much trouble with the engine – much more so than RBR and STR with the same hardware?

I think the individual teams have to program the software that controls the interaction between all the MGU-K, MGU-H, ICE, ES – maybe Lotus have this all wrong?


Is this software business true? Lotus should just put the software on the net and let some amateurs have a crack.


Lotus must have over-spent so much last year to try and keep up.

Plus, Eric Boulier left at the right moment leaving the team leaderless.

It will be sometime before the team find its feet again.

Oh well, I’m glad Kimi left that place when he did.


One quick question James… Are these In season testings performed on allocated five race engines or they are different engines for test only? If the second option is true then how many test engines are available to each team for the entire pre and in-season testings?


Different, test engines


But they are still the homologated versions, yes?


How to start a Facebook page “Pastor out of F1”?

We should not see anybody die after the death of Senna in 1994. Pastor looks like he can make it happen….


James Can you give us some insider view on maldonado’s accident in the paddock, was it viewed as reaaaaallly bad/stupid and do some drivers/VIPs think he is dangerous ?


Not a great surprise, put it that way


You can try, but unfortunately as long as he has backing from PDVSA he’ll be in there somewhere.


Perhaps they can get him into one of the golf buggies that Sky had Damon and Johney cruising around in?


Great, so now you’d have him menacing innocent pedestrians as well.



Are teams given new engines and gearbox’s to use for tests?


James is this test about churning the miles/laps or should we read anything into times?


Lot of new parts being tested, it should give an indicator of developments


As we saw on Sunday- fastest means nothing if you cant use it


Describing Mercedes setting the pace as “somewhat predictably” is probably understating it a bit…


How would you have worded it?


“With the metronomic certainty of an atomic clock, Mercedes finished top of the timesheet.”


Still not as certain as a quantum clock.


That’s actually not bad 🙂




So glad to see the “new” Tyrell going so strongly this year. Ken will be smiling while watching this from his lofty perch.


Good point! It’s easy to forget the distant origins of the Silberpfeile are with a former back marker (and world championship winning) team.

Mind you, we could also then say that “new” Stewart GP didn’t do too badly the last few seasons either.


At least the teams have got some decent in season testing this year. Personally, I feel they could do with a couple of extra days for two reasons – a)because of the new technology, time equals knowledge equals reliability and b) to give exciting young drivers a chance to bed in and get some mileage under their belts.

Sorry to go off topic again, but does the safety car have the 1.6 litre V6 turbo hybrid system? I know I’m joking, but it seems ironic that the Mercedes safety car is tarting around at the head of the field in that grunty V8 when F1 has ditched normally aspirated 8 clyinder engines.

Still, I don’t think the FIA understands irony, sarcasm or hyperbole, at least not intentionally anyway (double points last race and all that………………….)


At least the safety car still sounds good.


“…don’t think the FIA understands irony, sarcasm or hyperbole, at least not intentionally anyway…”

Well, they *are French, you know. ;D


At least you can be pretty confident that the safety car isn’t going to break down halfway through a lap 🙂


Merc have made a fully electric version of that car but the FIA still has the 2010 model – probably too cheap to buy a new one off Mercedes…;)


If it ain’t broke…oh hang on, you’re right – this is the FIA we’re talking about 😉



I know that 6.3L engine well. I know the sound well.

When the safety car came out I tried to hear the safety car engine, but couldn’t. I was sure that it would be heard over this new 1.6L at safety car speed.

Which brings me to the point that it sounded as if another section of track was used for mic audio for the TV feed, because I could not hear the safety car. Anyone notice this or is it just me? I admit I was on a treadmill for the GP. But I really paid attention to the TV sound during the SC period just for fun, and it really seem to be like there was an effort to not put the SC engine sound into the TV feed.


I didn’t notice anything too different, but I wasn’t really paying attention to that so much – for me a safety car period is an opportunity to restock my drink and snacks for the rest of the race 🙂

It seems to me that the sound of the safety car might blend in more with the new sound of the F1 cars, but I wouldn’t discount the possibility of some audio tech messing with it under directions from the FIA.


Actually a 6.2 🙂


Of course – reliability. Would be a bit embarrassing if the safety car pulled off in a cloud of steam!

Still, whatever engine that Merc is using, its still probably quicker than the Prancing Horse at the minute. And it even isn’t mid engined………..

Fernando: “Hmm, can I worm my way into Mercedes or Red Bull?”

Kimi: “Where’s my choc ice?”

Stefano: “Damm, the boss is going to give me an ear bashing.”

Luca: “Those bloody Inglese……..”


Except that Ron doesn’t even have a fast car and if he did they’d probably screw up the pitstops, reliabilty or something. Alonso would just end up reliving Lewis’ frustrations.


Thing is now….Fernando has nowhere to go….unless he goes hat in hand to Ron and says I’ll do anything for a fast car.

Rosberg and Hamilton are ensconsed at Merc now and wont give their seats up, Ricciardo has proven he can drive at the front and drag the Red Bull kicking and screaming from 13th to 4th.

Force India has done brilliantly picking up Hulk and Checo….maybe if Felipe retires he can go and drive for Frank, since the Williams has ALOT of potential for him to work with.

Any other team will give him no chance at being at the front…so yeah, he has no real options.


Fixed for ya

Luca: “Those bloody Germans……..”


PS James don’t want to be pedantic, but the Bahrain night shift has finished!


Seems to always be fastest when points are not at stake.


That’s a neat null hypotheses, proved wrong by a look at Drivers Standings table.


While I don’t agree with the original post, you can’t seriously claim that Nico’s position at the top of the table is down to anything other than fortune; he’s been beaten by Hamilton in both the races they’ve both completed.


Strange comment, trying to provoke a reaction


It’s just his way to try and undermine Hamilton (if Nico is not good then Hamilton is not that special in beating him or something skewed like that)…there really is no need for such posts. F1 is made up of a lot of great drivers. My favourite is Hamilton but that does not come at the expense of disrespecting or not appreciating other drivers. Nico can very well take the WDC this year.


Just pointing out that so far this year in this psychlogical war Nico is unable to get the upper hand when points are on the table.

He needs to realize that his 11 point lead is a fortunate place to be and try to find that little bit extra to come up on top in a battle for points. So far against Lewis he’s only won one battle, the one for Pole in Bahrain, where no points were on offer.


Another Mark Webber no doubt.


Rosberg an’t no Webber. Webber never raced Vet. Let me rephrase, Webber was never allowed to race Vet. So you can’t compare the two.


I think WEB has admitted that we was allowed to race but since the advent of the blown floor he wasn’t able to adapt to it as well as VET. In fact WEB has said recently that he thinks VET will struggle more in the new era now the blown floor is totally gone.


Anyone who actually believes that is an idiot, there may have been a couple of isolated incidents but generally Webber was nowhere near Vettel especially in the last three years. But now we get to find out how good Vettel really is against Ricciardo, as he seems like the real deal.

Traction Event

Webber raced Vettel for many years and failed miserably to match him, 99% of the time. Is there anyone outside of Australia who does not see this ? He got consistently spanked by Seb, a definitive No 2 driver, stop repeating the same tired old lies to excuse his failure, I honestly thought Ricci’s great start at RBR would put an end to this rubbish…


You forget Silverstone 2011 and Interlagos 2012 (with the Multi 12 he ignored?)


I think they got to race on a few occassions. Even that Multi21, forget what you know and what was said on the radio, etc. and just put a soundtrack in your head of battle commentary. It absolutely doesn’t look like anything else but a decent on track battle.

If RBR didn’t control the situation between those two, I’m sure they would have given up championships. So whatever might have been, fact is they way RBR played it resulted in a string of 4. In my book that means they played it right.

This Deniel guy though, he sure as heck is making me pay more attention to the order of RBR cars!

Michael Spitale

Will the other drivers be in test day two or is it just one driver per team for the 2 day test?


James, I thought only Mercedes, William and one other team cateram? are scheduled to run test in Bahrine. I remeber reading some test schedule on this website. Why all teams are testing now?


All teams can test, Caterham and Merc are doing one day each of their test for Pirelli for 2015 tyre testing

The rest of the teams will do a day each at future tests


Largely they will split the driving duties but it depends on the team. Ricciardo is doing both days for Red Bull, Alonso will be in again for Ferrari tomorrow. Hamilton is taking over at Mercedes for their tyre test tomorrow. Grosjean is in the Lotus. Kevin Magnussen is now doing both days for McLaren, who had originally planned to give Stoffel Vandoorne and Oliver Turvey an outing. Sergio Perez will drive for Force India, Giedo van der Garde will drive for Sauber, Jean-Eric Vergne will drive for Toro Rosso. Felipe Nasr will drive for Williams, Marcus Ericsson takes over at Caterham and Jules Bianchi will drive for Marussia.

Michael Spitale

Wonder why Kimi is not getting a day… Seems to me the more time any of them get in these cars the better. Is there a second in season test this year?


Doesn’t really matter which drivers test as long as they improve the car as it is a total mess


Kimi will do testing in May after Barcelona GP.

The explanation given was, that Ferrari wanted to avoid time taken for set up changes hence, they elected for One driver for both days.


Because he already knows what he’s doing!


Alonso said Kimi will be the two days in Spain doing tests, and is suspect Fernando will do two more in Silverstone and Kimi the last two in Abu Dhabi.


There are four in-season tests this season – Bahrain, Spain, Great Britain and Abu Dhabi. Each one follows the grand prix in those countries.

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