It may be the start of a new test, but Red Bull’s winter nightmare has continued today, as pressure is beginning to mount upon the team with just 16 days until lights out in Melbourne. Today was another story of overheating. Meanwhile, Williams enjoyed another productive day, with Valtteri Bottas recording 128 laps filled with aero and set-up work. The Mercedes powered teams in general enjoyed while their Renault counterparts endured a troublesome day. Time is running out for them to solve the crippling issues…
In Trouble Yet Again…
Bottas Impresses Again
Williams have emphasised their status as best of the rest today, as Valtteri Bottas completed another excellent 128 laps – almost as many as all the Renault powered machines put together. After completing a race simulation run last week, as well as starting set-up work and pit-stop practice, Williams complemented their programme with aerodynamic analysis today as well as set-up and performance analysis. Bottas has seemingly come to terms with the new cars remarkably well, even suggesting that he likes the new levels of torque. They have been the most reliable team so far this season and are still yet to cause a red flag in pre-season testing. I would go as far to suggest that if luck is on their side, Williams could contend for victory in Melbourne. We are yet to see the pace of the FW36, yet the reliability is certainly secured. Wouldn’t it be magical to see the Williams name rekindle their past success this season.
Mercedes-Power On Top Again
While Bottas finished P2 on the timesheet, Force India’s Sergio Perez topped the timesheet to put Mercedes power on top yet again. The team endured a troubled time in the first Bahrain test, where teething problems restricted their running in the final two days, but today, Perez looked very strong. Similarly, Kevin Magnussen had another hassle-free day in the MP4-29, as the Dane recorded 109 laps in what was a packed programme. McLaren looked strong yet again, as did the Mercedes works outfit. The Brackley squad had been busy developing an upgrade package which features some interesting detail. Most notably, the new specification W05 features an additional guide vein on the sidepod, which links the sidepod airflow conditioner to the turning veins attached to the sidepod itself. Ironically, the team have also added an extra cooling duct to the engine cover, making it a row of four instead of a row of three inlets. An additional 89 laps of running today will have given the team excellent data with which to evaluate the effectiveness of the new package.
Upgrades Aplenty Elsewhere….
After running base packages throughout the first two tests, teams are now beginning to test the Melbourne package of their 2014 challengers. Ferrari suffered issues in the morning which restricted their programme, but Kimi Raikkonen was still able to test a new front wing this afternoon. However, the most poignant development on the Ferrari is the appearance of a monkey seat. Meanwhile, Marussia have finally fitted upgrades to their car after running a car low on the intricate details throughout last week. The team have developed a rather nifty twin element airflow conditioner on their sidepods coupled with a Vortex Generator, which should efficiently guide airflow into the ‘coke bottle’ and provide more rear downforce. The team certainly need excellent performance from the MR03 as they are currently suffering from significant mileage deficiencies compared to their close rivals Caterham.
Upgrades were big talking points today. However, they were topped by yet more disappointment for Red Bull, who fall further off the pace. Meanwhile, Williams have provided further proof of the strength of their 2014 package which seems totally bullet-proof, and Force India have ensured that people do not forget about their credentials ahead of this season.