So, the first four days of testing have come to and end, meaning that the 2014 season has finally got underway. As with any new significant regulation changes, it really comes down to a case of trial and error for those that have spent many long and sleepiness nights, trying to get the new cars on track.
Forget the fact of however many laps that the teams have done, or whether a respective title holder has stopped out on track, bringing out the red flag. It was clearly the case that with an abundance on new technology that needs to be understood quickly, it was going to be taking the bad times with the good when this shift into a new era came about. It is the pinnacle of racing, but everyone does have their off days.
Take, for instance, the current champions, especially with their team principal mentioning the words “reset button” as the teams headed towards testing. One thing that some people may seem to forget is that their design guru, a certain Mr. Newey, has always pushed the regulations to the limit, especially when you consider the McLaren MP4-20 a few years back.
Yes, there were only 21 laps completed at Jerez by both Vettel and Ricciardo, but Christian Horner did state that the test was a good way to find out the issues early on. Even with the, dare I say it, “makeshift” vent on the left side pod of the Renault-powered RB10, it still shows how much there is still left to do.
But it’s guaranteed that Milton Keynes will be putting in a herculean effort along with Renault Sport to get things back on the straight and narrow, with all at Viry-Chatilion wondering how they can turn things around. I’m sure that there will be a few more head-scratching moments before Bahrain.
Brackley have been consistently putting in the laps, and with Rosberg even doing a race distance simulation, it shows that Mercedes have shown their strength from the get-go, even though Lewis had the front wing failure on Tuesday. The outfit completed most of the mileage that the German engines, built in Brixworth, clocked up overall, with up an impressive 1,368 kilometres along the way.
And then McLaren have had a mixed bag of running at Jerez, which in some ways is somewhat filled with emotion, especially in the case of Jenson, who is carrying on like his late father, John, would have wanted, sporting a lovely “Papa Smurf” tribute on his race helmet. The new addition to the team, Kevin Magnussen, showed that he is here to stay and has impressed with consistent form, even with him suffering a shunt at the end of the final day. Both these teams could be there when it comes to finding out what struggles may come Red Bull’s way, but it is not yet apparent what could potentially transpire.
Lotus, though, had already announced that they would bring the E22 to the test at Bahrain, so it is a case of wait and see what hand of cards they put on the table. The topic of discussion is how will it all change at Enstone, especially as Lopez has now replaced the new McLaren Racing Director, Eric Bouiller as Team Principal. Is everything really that rocky beneath a calm surface?
The new F14T that Maranello have brought to the party was also a good sight to see, even with Kimi having a spin in the early goings. Ferrari have brought a car with a nose that has had its critics along the way, along with many other unusual interpretations by other teams, that have come under fire on the predominant social networks. But it looks to potentially be in the fight, as both Kimi and Fernando will be looking for the right time to strike. Di Montezemelo will not want to come second best again and calls for glory to be brought back home to the stable of the “Prancing Horse.”
The other Renault-powered teams, Caterham and Toro Rosso, continued to try and catch up on lost time, especially with the software issues that were plaguing the first test throughout its duration. That being said, the biggest eyesore is for Red Bull above all, and when both Horner and Newey scarpered post haste earlier than expected, as all four days were cut short by lunchtime. Take for instance an episode of Star Trek, when either Captain Kirk or Picard tells the crew to man battle stations and calls for “Red Alert.” That’s probably what a team owner may be thinking is the call to arms at this precise moment.
Marussia, Williams and Force India have had their fair share of dramas. This was clearly true when it came to gremlins being the villains to be dealt with such new technology, where everyone is on such steep learning curve. Banbury having to ship the car out later than planned was one of the many happenings, Force India and Williams having a few teething troubles and Sauber not finding the going easy either at first light. But all these outfits, considered, have completed more kilometres than the current champions as well, as well as making sure that the transition to the next stage comes along nicely.
It is still a long six weeks to go before the racing gets underway, so looking into the specifics of what the teams have done over the last four days is not going to tell a lot more than what may happen, but the key to success is reliability and consistency, and there’s clearly not a whole of time left to go when major dramas are in full effect.
Images courtesy of Octane Photographic