Bahrain Test (2): Day 1

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…

Check out Sky Sports F1’s gallery for day one of the second Bahrain Test

In Trouble Yet Again…

Red Bull have delved further into disarray today, as Daniel Ricciardo could only manage 39 laps as the RB10 suffers yet more overheating issues. However, Ricciardo has declared that the situation is not as bad from an internal point of view, suggesting that the media are over-emphasising the issues. This may be true, but the situation looks dire from the outside anyway – It must at least be concerning internally. This morning was remarkably positive for the team, as Ricciardo spent nearly an hour at the top of the timesheet, yet this accolade was worthless considering the low benchmark at this stage in proceedings, yet laps were being posted. However, the team’s day was derailed by yet more overheating issues at lunchtime and the car was in the garage for five hours before Ricciardo ventured out for an installation lap at the close of proceedings.
With just three days remaining, Ted Kravitz of Sky Sports has suggested that Red Bull could fall out of qualifying in Australia at the Q1 stage. He went on to add that “even if they get towards the middle or front part of the grid, it looks like they will only complete half the race then breakdown.” It really is a terrible position that the four time champions find themselves in. With the fellow Renault runners also struggling once again, it is not only a Red Bull problem but seemingly STILL a Renault problem. With the FIA asking for the final submission of this seasons powertrain’s tomorrow, Renault runners could find themselves in deep trouble. They have still not managed to complete a race run and it still looks like it is beyond them. 
While Red Bull stole the headlines, Lotus’ day was equally as concerning, as their latest upgrade package has harmed the E22’s reliability. Maldonado managed a measly 31 laps today as the team acknowledged that the new specification exhaust brought to this test, failed and damaged the rear of the car, forcing the E22 to ground to a halt just before lunch. Lotus have not only lost an afternoon of testing, but their engineers have wasted time developing a flawed part at Enstone. Disappointment all-round for the team. 

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.        

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