The 2014 F1 season’s first testing week in Jerez had been much anticipated given the number of changes to the cars and the power units for the new season. And in terms of action, it certainly didn’t disappoint. The potential reliability issues we brought up when describing the rule changes for the new season (see here) hit especially the Renault power units with a vengeance, and none more than Red Bull. Engine cooling was the big issue, and RBR’s new car RB10 therefore spent most time off the track whilst rivals were collecting both laps and experience. At the end of the week, the three Renault teams had managed 151 laps, however of these RBR only managed 21. In contrast, the four Mercedes teams completed 875 laps and the three Ferrari teams 444.
Too much should not be read in to the season’s first testing week, especially not to lap times, but it is fair to say that RBR has a lot of work to do before, and a lot to prove during the next testing week in Bahrain on February 19-22.
Judging by the drivers’ comments there was a lot of satisfaction with the new cars. The torque provided by the new engines make them feel very powerful and the new 8-speed gearbox along with thew new breaking system also contribute to making the experience different. Finally the number of buttons on the new steering wheel will take some getting used to, and the wheel was by many likened more to a smart phone.
Jerez was Swedish F1 rookie Marcus Ericsson’s first showing for Caterham, and at least Caterham was the Renault-powered team that managed most laps. It was however another Scandinavian who stole the attention; Mc Laren’s Danish rookie Kevin Magnussen clocked the fastest lap of the week!