The calm before the storm?
It has been a quiet two weeks or so on the news front in Formula One. At Richland F1 HQ, we’ve been tearing our hair out as we have had to find other ways to occupy our time such as going outside and socialising. However, it is unlikely to last long; this is merely the calm before the storm of the new F1 season.
Since Jerez, there hasn’t been much to play with; not even the typical “I think we can do well” stating-the-obvious press releases. Following the first test at the end of last month, we were left with many questions that all could be answered by “wait until Bahrain.” Red Bull are struggling? Wait until Bahrain. Are Renault behind? Wait until Bahrain. Is Mercedes the team to beat? Wait until Bahrain.
Not much good for the fans.
However, it is all true. The fact that this was the first test following such a seismic overhaul of the technical regulations meant that it is nigh on impossible to accurately give some sort of analysis that might outline a pecking order. Some are saying that Red Bull are indeed on the back foot, but others attribute these problems to Renault. Mercedes might indeed have the most reliable unit, but this could easily fall apart come the second test in Bahrain. In reality, nobody truly knows what to make of Jerez. It was a test in the most literal sense of the word: get these cars out on track and make sure they work. Some teams failed to even manage that.
So in the meantime, the mechanics and crews have been beavering away back at their respective factories leaving us mere journalists to kick our heels and work on features without any real news to get our teeth into.
Last season was a different kettle of fish, though. At this time, Marussia had made the second of three changes to their original line-up of Timo Glock and Max Chilton (Luiz Razia’s F1 career might be a pop quiz question in the future). McLaren had laid down a remarkable pace in testing, albeit with an illegal car, whilst Giedo van der Garde had only recently completed Caterham’s line-up. We could almost outline a pecking order for the coming season as the regulations had not been changed.
And of course, Pirelli. It was at the first test when the aggression of the 2013 compounds was first highlighted, with Sergio Perez joking that they might have to make six or seven stops in Australia. In the end, that race was won on two by Kimi Raikkonen, but the problems with the tyres were set to persist for the rest of the season.
So will the tone from pre-season 2014 set the tone for the rest of the season? Will there be a constant shrug of shoulders and pointing to the next date on the calendar? “Wait and see what happens then. We might get some answers.” The predicted lack of reliability means that there could be a lot of this; we could be back to the days of one team having the fastest car, but technical problems blighting any hopes of success. This paradigm was apparent in a different form last season with Mercedes’ tyre woes: had this been 2010, they would have swept the board in the first half of the season.
It’s largely a case of “who knows?”. As the media, we’ve been forced into speculating about Williams possible link-up with Martini whilst chortling in the office to videos of Lotus caravanning and Mercedes’ drivers playing dumb (both are very funny though).
Finally, the big news we wait on is that of Michael Schumacher’s condition. The seven time world champion remains in a medically induced coma in hospital in Grenoble, but efforts are being made to bring him out of it. The news-wire continues to speculate and spread silly rumours, forcing his manager to repeat herself time and time again. As explored by former FIA doctor Gary Hartstein, all we can really do in this situation is play the long game: wait and see…
Images courtesy of Octane Photographic.
Luke Smith is the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of Richland F1. Having started the website in March 2012, he has gone on to become one of the youngest members of the Formula 1 paddock after joining American broadcaster NBC Sports at the beginning of the 2013 season. Luke now works as the network's lead F1 writer, supporting the TV coverage on nbcsports.com. Luke's work has also been featured on NBC News, Yahoo! Sports and in Driven Magazine, and he has also appeared on CNBC's TV series "One Second in F1 Racing".