After less than 100 laps were completed yesterday, Wednesday at Jerez were far more productive for the majority of the teams. After a light shower just prior to the start of running, Pirelli decided that this morning would be the ideal opportunity to schedule wet weather running and so the circuit was soaked and the wet tyres emerged from their blankets. On a dry surface, the afternoon saw most teams jump into their programme, with Nico Rosberg recording 97 laps for the day, despite missing the entire morning as the team looked to investigate the technical issues which halted their running yesterday. Meanwhile, it was a dismal day for Caterham, Toro Rosso and Red Bull as the Renault powertrain is coming under scrutiny…
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Following a difficult day for Red Bull yesterday, today was even worse for the Milton Keynes based squad as the RB10’s running was once again restricted, this time to just 8 laps. Sebastian Vettel’s two days in the car have been a nightmare as the German has only managed a total of 11 laps across both sessions, with just one of those circulations completed as a timed run. Despite Red Bull seemingly opting for a conservative design package, the fault seems to lie with the Renault powertrain, as yesterday’s mysterious “technical issue,” has been compounded by today’s electrical fault which meant that the team’s day ended abruptly in the early afternoon. Speculation suggests that the Renault powertrain, (which is also supplied to Toro Rosso and Caterham,) has a fundamental fault in the Energy Recovery System. While Toro Rosso managed to complete 15 laps yesterday, the team did not venture out onto the circuit at all today, with Caterham only clocking 8 laps – That means that only 19 laps were completed by Renault powered cars in total today.
“Obviously we’ve not had a lot of running and have a few problems to sort out, but with such big rule changes it is usual to have some teething problems,” said Vettel prior to his departure. “That’s what tests are for, to sort those issues out. The next two days will be important to get some track time to prepare for the tests in Bahrain.” Evidently the issues are substantial. Renault are coming under significant scrutiny, with a scrum of journalists and photographers circling the motor-home like vultures, waiting for anyone to emerge. Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Caterham will be hoping that it is a quick fix, yet this seems unlikely for a problem which is this significant. Meanwhile, Lotus’ decision to stay at Enstone for the week is looking like an even better idea with each passing minute and a quick glance at their Twitter timeline will confirm this. In reply to Taki Inoue, the team wrote; “aww, we miss you like Red Bull misses their mileage today…” However, they will certainly not be laughing if the technical woes are not solved by the time they unveil their car in Bahrain for the second test.
McLaren On Top Of The Pile
Meanwhile, the Mercedes powered McLaren team enjoyed a highly productive day, with Jenson Button behind the wheel of the MP4-29, despite a day without running yesterday which was expected to hold them back. The team suffered an electrical fault on Tuesday which took four hours to locate and a further four hours to reassemble the car – hence the entire day’s running was lost. However, the team made up for lost time today, as they made the most of the wet circuit in the morning as well as the dry opportunities in the afternoon. Button amassed a total of 43 laps despite the team taking the daunting first steps in a new car.
However, an innovative design at the rear of the MP4-29 has attracted the headlines. The rear of the car features four “wishbone wings”, which are a clever attempt at trying to recapture some of the rear downforce lost as a result of the outlaw of the lower beam wing. These “wings” are thicker areas of the wishbones which thin out at either endplate. This development should create more rear downforce and is unique to McLaren at this moment. Since it is within the regulations, teams will inevitably begin work on developing their own versions, however, potential copies could be restricted by the nature of suspension designs. It may prove to be a difficult aspect to implement such as the F-Duct were in 2010.
These were not the only McLaren related headlines of the day, as Eric Boullier was confirmed as the team’s new Racing Director. This highlights the management restructure taking place at Woking, which seems to have an air of Mercedes about it. McLaren seem to have split the role of Team Principal into three individual roles, with Ron Dennis as CEO, Sam Michael as Sporting Director and new recruit Boullier as Racing Director. This move makes sense considering the pressures which McLaren face especially on the back of such a difficult campaign, in what is to be another tricky year in terms of getting to grips with the new era of Formula One.
Rosberg Almost Hits The Century
Mr.Mileage today was unquestionably Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg, who managed 97 laps in just the afternoon alone. Despite missing the wet weather running in the morning due to the team’s investigations into yesterday’s front wing failure, Mercedes enjoyed the perfect afternoon, building upon their excellent foundations set with Hamilton in the car yesterday morning. Engine and chassis seem to be working in harmony and the team seem to have a strong package.
The mediocre P4 on the timesheet should be analysed with caution. The team seem to be prioritising reliability and fuel consumption over pace at the moment, which has meant that much of the running has been done on heavy fuel loads. The long run performance of the car seemed consistent and free of issues, as Nico managed several runs of over 10 consecutive laps and never really fell out of the 1:30’s. Impressive early form shown by the W05.
Ferrari Power Showcased By Gutierrez
While Kimi Raikkonen enjoyed a positive second day back at Ferrari, Esteban Gutierrez demonstrated the strength of the Ferrari powertrain after completing 53 laps – the most of any Ferrari powered car. Despite clocking up the mileage in the C33, he suffered an excursion into the gravel trap as he struggled to come to terms with various traits of the car, including balance under braking. Regardless, his second day in the car was largely a successful one and additional mileage will inevitably help cure these issues.
“Today we were able to do a lot of laps, which is very positive,” he said. “Considering the circumstances, it is very important to put in this mileage. We found some issues in the systems, which is something to work on and part of the process. Obviously at this stage I was not able to push. Before we can take it to the limit our priority is reliability.”
Thoughts Turn To Day Three
Day three will be another crucial day for the teams as many drivers will get their first opportunities in their new offices; not to mention Marussia, who are unveiling their new car tomorrow after an additional two days of preparation. They will hope that they enjoy the reliability shown so far by the Ferrari engine. Meanwhile, Button will receive more track time in the McLaren in the morning, with Kevin Magnussen taking the reigns in the afternoon. Meanwhile, Hulkenberg, Kobayashi, Sutil, Massa and Ricciardo will hit the track for the first time. Will the Renault powered teams make up for lost time tomorrow or is Jerez now a lost cause?
Jerez Day Two Timesheet
1. Button, McLaren, 1:24.165, 43 laps
2. Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:24.812, 47 laps
3. Bottas, Williams, 1:25.344; 35 laps
4. Rosberg, Mercedes, 1:25.588, 97 laps
5. Perez, Force India, 1:28.376, 37 laps
6. Gutierrez, Sauber, 1:33.270, 53 laps
7. Ericsson, Caterham, 1:37.975, 11 laps
8. Vettel, Red Bull, 1:38.320, 8 laps
Toro Rosso haven’t completed a lap.