What We Learned From Jerez
Saturday 01-February-2014 13:50Mercedes have produced a solidly reliable engine, so reliable that the race team were able to do a race simulation for Nico Rosberg on the morning of Day Four, a day when they put in over 130 laps in total. Between their four teams they have run 4000km, double that of the Ferrari-engined cars and six times the lappage of Renault.
Everybody is liking the look of the McLaren rear suspension blocks and once they get officially cleared by the FIA race stewards in Australia it'll be a foot-race for all the other teams to add them. Already the technical and aero teams will be back at base studying the photos.
Despite fears that not having an engine capable of deafening innocent bystanders would be a turn-off for F1 fans, some of the hardened hacks at the test were pleasantly surprised by the noise made by the new turbos. It seems like a badge of honour for some of the older members of the paddock that F1 engines should be painful. They don't care because their hearing is completely b*****ered after years in the pitlane. And when your hearing's already severely degraded LOUD just sounds loud. Watch Bernie struggling to hear the questions in interviews.
Some of the cars - as launched - are butt ugly. This was predicted, of course, but the surprise has been that they are ugly in many different ways. The Caterham, Force India and Toro Rosso are heading the "Look away now" table.
Having seen some of the ugly noses revealed by the teams, the FIA have announced an investigation to see if they're intrinsically safe. Although they all complied with the rules on dimensions, there is a feeling that some may not be robust (and that one, the Caterham, has an old high-nose, with an add-on to meet regulations). Adrian Newey thinks that a lot are unsafe, not because they won't get launched, like the old high noses, but the reverse will be the case. In an impact, the car hitting from behind will submarine under the car in front.
McLaren have bounced back after a disastrous first day when they didn't run a single lap. Kevin Magnussen put in the fastest time of the week, a 1:23.276. At this stage of testing, with teams not running their full-blown Aussie aero package, mileage is the key not times and McLaren were up there with Ferrari. The top lap scorers were: Mercedes 309, Ferrari 251 and McLaren 245.
Even late-arriving Marussia, with 30 laps, put in more than the 21 of Red Bull.
Apart from the battery store problems that all Renault engine runners encountered, Red Bull have an over-heating problem. Adrian Newey is famed for tightly packaging the internals for maximum aero efficiency, but this time he might have gone too far. The rest of the grid are hoping it won't be a quick fix. Bearing in mind the ambient temperature at Jerez was around 10-15C, this doesn't bode well for 35C Malaysia.
Pastor Maldonado didn't hold back when he criticized the Williams team at the end of last season and probably thought he was taking his PDVSA millions to a much safer bet in 2014. It's all been downhill since. Lotus have been shedding staff including their team principal, they've missed the first test, the Renault engine has proven to be the least reliable at launch and now his old team appear to have the best engine with which his replacement, Felipe Massa, went fastest in Jerez. Aw.....
Williams certainly look like they made the right choice of engine - ending Day Four as the fastest car and running the next highest number of laps after McLaren. But the car has a worrying lack of sponsors on the side. Let's hope that's just the rush to get it all packaged up for Jerez.
Jenson Button is excited by the new low-torque acceleration from corners with ERS and as Adrian Sutil has said, now drivers don't have to stick the engines up into the 12-18000 rev range to get any decent power. With eight gears instead of seven, and the new engines, they have a huge amount of flexibility in power delivery.
It would be interesting to get Sergio Perez's and Nico Hulkenberg's views on the wisdom of giving Daniel Juncadella 81 laps in the Force India while Perez had 48 and Hulkenberg just 17.
Lewis has a hilarious new haircut. Either that or he was going to a theme party in downtown Jerez de la Frontera.
Kimi and Fernando are making all the right noises about working together for the benefit of the team but it's not like Felipe and Fernando. More like step-brothers who've just been introduced to each other and are carefully sizing each other up.
It is going to be very interesting to see how the FIA impose the 107% rule in qualifying in Melbourne if the wide variety of lap times continue.
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