Jerez Test: Day 4

The fourth and final day in Jerez was filled with first’s. Fernando Alonso became the first driver to exceed a century of laps in just one day as he clocked 115, closely followed by Kevin Magnussen on 110, despite him having his first accident in a Formula One car. Nico Rosberg became the first man to complete a full race simulation run and Felipe Massa topped the timesheet for the first time behind the wheel of a Williams. Caterham became the first Renault powered team to rack up more than 50 laps in a day, while Red Bull’s woes showed no signs of relenting as they could only manage another seven laps before the team put an end to the misery and began the pack-up before lunch.

Check out Sky Sports F1’s image gallery for day four at Jerez

Mercedes Power On

This week has been a story of two successful powertrain’s and one questionable package. Mercedes and Ferrari have once again demonstrated their reliability today, with the former in particular standing out. It was a magnificent day for the Mercedes team, as Nico Rosberg completed the first race simulation of the new-era, highlighting the reliability of the package. His 91 laps completed in the morning meant that he had earned a break in the afternoon, as the team allowed Lewis Hamilton another chance to gain some all-important track time. The duo completed 132 laps in total, with Mercedes evidently having an advantage over the opposition in terms of reliability. Their car seems bullet-proof and the only issue experienced so far was Lewis’ front wing failure on Tuesday morning, which now appears to be solved.
Hamilton’s additional track time this afternoon was a welcome opportunity and has levelled the mileage stakes between Hamilton and Rosberg after Lewis missed Tuesday afternoon through no fault of his own. “It has been an amazing week,” said the Brit. “To get the amount of mileage we have has been very encouraging. The biggest positive we can take from here is that the car is reliable. We aren’t focused on anyone else, we’re just focused on ourselves and trying to improve. We want as much data as we can and as many miles as we can.”  
The Mercedes powered cars have enjoyed similar success again today, most notably at Williams, where Felipe Massa topped the timesheet whilst completing a solid 86 laps. Williams have also enjoyed respectable reliability this week, with the past three days all yielding high mileage. McLaren also enjoyed another fruitful day, with Kevin Magnussen finally getting a full session to put the MP4-29 through its paces. The Dane’s day was certainly eventful as he clocked 110 laps in total, to add to his 52 achieved yesterday afternoon. His impressive running was marred by two spins; the second of which resulted in a trip to the barriers. However, this excursion came in the final minutes of the session, which meant that the test ended under red flag conditions – If your going to crash, its best to do it when your team have three weeks in which to make repairs. McLaren will not be too concerned and Magnussen will have undoubtedly learnt a lesson in how much torque the new engines are capable of, (even when on just four cylinders.) Daniel Juncadella experienced a relatively trouble free day on his first test outing as Force India reserve driver, clocking 81 laps.    

Champions Leave At Lunch

After both Christian Horner and Adrian Newey left Jerez yesterday, it was only a matter of time until the rest of the team followed. Once the morning had served up another ‘mechanical issue’ the team decided to call it a day and began to pack-up. Daniel Ricciardo managed just seven laps this morning before getting out of the RB10 for the final time at Jerez.  
Despite completing just 10 laps in his first two days with Red Bull, Ricciardo has maintained a positive attitude to proceedings, wearing the almost perpetual smile and being remarkably bullish about Red Bull’s chances of recovery in Bahrain. “It’s a complex system this year and it’s not going to take 24 hours to solve,” he acknowledged when talking to Sky Sports News. “I think it’s best now that we get some time away from the track and figure out what needs to be done. Obviously that’s not my job but I’ll be keeping in touch with the team the next few weeks and seeing how it’s all going. Okay, yeah, it didn’t work so good the last few days, but the confidence I have in these guys to solve the problem we have now is higher than it could be. For that I have a smile on my face and I know we won’t have these conversations for too much longer.”
With Kamui Kobayashi completing an impressive 54 laps in the Caterham today, suggestions have been somewhat verified that the problem is a compatibility issue between the Renault engine and the Red Bull car. Adrian Newey has always developed aggressive packaging and KERS failures were commonplace as a result. However, the issue for Newey and company this year is that a KERS failure is now a terminal occurrence. Meanwhile, in taking a leaf out of Red Bull’s design book, Toro Rosso have plunged themselves seemingly into similar trouble, as Daniil Kvyat managed just 9 laps today, with the STR9 ending the first test on the back of a recovery truck. The Renault engine does not seem to have the reliability of the Mercedes or Ferrari alternatives (yet), but it is not solely a Renault problem.
In a way, this is a positive for Red Bull and Toro Rosso. If the problem was solely within the engine unit itself, a solution would be far harder to find. Meanwhile, the packaging of the car is something which should be easier to modify. We will not know the true implications of the problems until the team’s diagnose the issue and perhaps implement a solution before Bahrain.

Next Stop, Bahrain…

After four days which have been full of trials and tribulations for all teams, (but some notably more than others), team personnel have certainly earned a weekend off. However, in this high speed world of Formula One, they will almost certainly not get it, as the next pre-season test is only three weeks away. Some teams will undoubtedly have more sleepless nights between now and then compared to their rivals – Mercedes will be contented with their progress this week, as will McLaren, Ferrari and Williams. For Red Bull and Toro Rosso, the first week of testing has been a nightmare and the three weeks between now and the next test are crucial. Can the Red Bull juggernaut turn things around? You still wouldn’t like to bet against it…    

Jerez Test: Day Four Timesheet

1. Massa, Williams, 1:28.229, 86 laps
2. Alonso, Ferrari, 1:29.145, 115 laps
3. Juncadella, Force India, 1:29.457, 81 laps
4. Magnussen, McLaren, 1:30.806, 110 laps
5. Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:30.822, 41 laps
6. Bianchi, Marussia, 1:32.222, 25 laps
7. Sutil, Sauber, 1:36.571, 69 laps
8. Rosberg, Mercedes, 1:36.951, 91 laps
9. Kobayashi, Caterham, 1:43.193, 54 laps
10. Kvyat, Toro Rosso, 1:44.016, 9 laps
11. Ricciardo, Red Bull, 1:45.374, 7 laps.

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