It was a bright and sunny day in southern Spain as day three of the first pre-season test took place. However, the day was another dismal affair from Red Bull, with Daniel Ricciardo managing just three laps and seven corners in the RB10 after yet more electrical issues. Meanwhile, Toro Rosso completed 30 laps suggesting that the ERS issues are seemingly exaggerated by the Red Bull package. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Kevin Magnussen has enjoyed a magnificent start to his F1 career, finishing top of the timesheet with just the afternoon to acclimatise to the MP4-29. After only completing 680 miles of F1 testing prior to today, that is no mean feat for the young Dane.
It was hoped that after Sebastian Vettel’s nightmare two days in Jerez, Daniel Ricciardo would provide the stimulus for a resurgence and some successful track time. However, Red Bull are the team everyone is talking about at the moment and for the first time in a long time, it is because they are struggling. While it is of course early days and testing, yet alone the year itself, is still in its infancy. Regardless, the team are very much on the backfoot, as Daniel Ricciardo managed just three laps and seven corners on his first outing as a Red Bull driver.
The RB10 a spectator for much of the morning, with the team completing work behind the testing barricades in the garage. When Ricciardo eventually emerged at 11am, he soon ground to an abrupt halt just seven corners into his outlap; (considering the mileage recorded by Red Bull over the past few days, those seven corners will count.) Joking aside, the team stated that the issues have once again occurred due to the Energy Recovery System. Renault have undoubtedly taken an aggressive approach to the packaging of this crucial component, as it lies in the centre of the engine unit, in between the KERS, the battery and the 1.6 litre combustion engine. Analysts suggest that Red Bull’s woes could be caused by the ERS overheating.
While Renault came under significant fire yesterday, today’s running has somewhat eased the pressure off of them and instead onto Red Bull themselves. Toro Rosso, who also run the Renault powertrain, enjoyed a far more productive day, clocking 30 laps, (despite causing two red flags). Meanwhile, Robin Frijns at Caterham completed a modest 10 installation laps, yet his running was restricted by software gremlins – The powertrain seemingly ran smoothly. Consequently, it now seems that the compatibility of the Renault engine and the Red Bull chassis is part of the problem. Christian Horner and Adrain Newey have reportedly left Jerez this afternoon and will be looking for answers and a solution to the issues. For the team, Jerez now seems to be a write off and they will hope that the problems can be eradicated by the first test in Bahrain.
Marussia Reveal MR03
Its been a long wait, but Marussia finally revealed their 2014 challenger today, as Max Chilton took to the track for the first time in the MR03. The car features a disguised ‘anteater’ nose, with the intuitive colour scheme making the nose extension look invisible from certain angles. I failed to notice the extension in the first shot that I saw.
“We have benefited enormously from the stability of our design teams, with the same personnel beginning – and now concluding – the process over a 24 month period,” chief designer John McQuilliam stated. “I think we can feel justifiably proud of the way we have responded to such a significant challenge and the quality of car we have arrived at with the MR03.”
Five installation laps into its life and problems have so far been avoided. Marussia have already announced their appreciation in regards to the new Ferrari engine unit, as well as the support that they are receiving from the Italian squad. It was reported that five engineers from Ferrari are now based at Banbury to oversee the team’s progress.
Magnussen Hits The Front
McLaren were once again impressive, with both Jenson Button and rookie Kevin Magnussen taking to the track today. The duo racked up a solid 40 and 52 laps respectively, with the team having already made up for the mileage lost on Tuesday and are enjoying the reliability of the Mercedes unit. In fact, Mercedes powered cars clocked a combined total of 218 laps today, dwarfing Renault’s 43. Magnussen claimed the plaudits by finishing on top of the timesheet. McLaren fans will surely find this early form promising considering that it was this time last year that the first signs of trouble began to appear.
“It felt good,” Magnussen said. “Pretty pleased with the reliability so far and pleased to get so many laps done in half a day. So pretty positive. As we all know it’s winter testing and no one really knows what the other cars or teams were doing, so not looking into that too much,” Despite downplaying his achievements today, Magnussen was the star performer. While Hamilton racked up the most laps total with a total of 62, Magnussen holds the best minutes to laps ratio, as he completed his 52 with just four hours of track time compared to Hamilton’s full eight hour schedule. To finish on top of the timesheet was the cherry on top of a magnificent first day.
Sutil Hits The Wall
Adrian Sutil became the second driver to hit the barriers in this first week of testing, as he admitted to making a driver error at Turn 7 on his 35th and final lap of the day. The German’s accident ended his first day in the new C33 abruptly and left him P8 on the timesheet. Th accident broke the front wing and damaged both front corners, giving the Sauber mechanics some work to do before tomorrow’s running.
“It’s very, very tricky with the new cars in addition to low grip and very cold temperatures as well,” Adrian said when speaking to Autosport. “It caught me out on an installation lap today.” Sutil will be back in the car tomorrow, and he will look to have a trouble-free day. His accident has highlighted the concentration required to handle the 2014 specification cars, which feature three times the torque of last year’s machinery.
Attention Turns To The Final Day…
After the new era of Formula One has got off to a stuttering start, the strength of the Mercedes engine unit has been swiftly realised. The Mercedes powered cars are ahead of rivals at the current moment as they have been able to extend the mileage, which even the Ferrari powered machinery has failed to achieve. With both Horner and Newey leaving Jerez, Red Bull will treat tomorrow as a day to obtain any possible data, yet this could be a mammoth task. For their rivals, tomorrow is another opportunity to take advantage while Formula One’s benchmark outfit is in disarray.
Jerez Test Day 3 Timesheet
1. Kevin Magnussen, McLaren, 1:23.276, 52 laps
2. Felipe Massa, Williams, 1:23.700, 47 laps
3. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:23.952, 62 laps
4. Jenson Button, McLaren, 1:25.030, 40 laps
5. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 1:25.495, 58 laps
6. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, 1:26.096, 17 laps
7. Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso, 1:29.915, 30 laps
8. Adrian Sutil, Sauber, 1:30.161, 34 laps
9. Robin Frijns, Caterham, No time, 10 laps
10. Max Chilton, Marussia, No time, 5 laps
11. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, No time, 3 laps