Kimi Raikkonen’s first day back in the cockpit of a Ferrari ended as well as he could have hoped – the Finn set the pace on the first day of winter testing and completed more laps than any other driver.
Although the day ended well for Raikkonen, his first experience of the Ferrari F14 T came to a premature halt after just a few corners, when he stopped the car on track on his very first installation lap for precautionary reasons. Exactly what the problem was, Ferrari is not telling, but it didn’t prevent further running so it couldn’t have been too serious.
Raikkonen told http://www.ferrari.com after the day’s testing: “The biggest challenge now is to ensure everything works. The new cars are much more complicated than the previous ones and there are a thousand details that can slow down the work. This morning, we’d have liked to do a few more laps but in the afternoon I think we did a good job. From a driving point of view, I didn’t feel any amazing difference, although it’s much too early to give an opinion on this.”
“Overall, we can say it was a good start. We have a solid base from which to work over the coming days. The times from this test mean nothing and we will only begin to understand something only in Bahrain. The cars are much slower? It’s pointless making comparisons with the past because everything is completely different.”
Raikkonen will drive the F14 T again on day 2 of the Jerez test, before handing the car over to Fernando Alonso on Thursday and Friday of this week.
The first day of pre-season testing for 2014 Formula One cars has come and gone. It included a few red flags, a crash (for Lewis Hamilton) and a some modest mileage for a few of the teams.
What day 1 of testing in Jerez did not include was a Marussia F1 car. The following statement appeared on the team’s Facebook page early in the day, explaining the delay:
“After encountering a small but frustrating technical glitch with the MR03 during its sign-off, we are very pleased to inform you that the car is now well on its way from our Technical Centre in Banbury, bound for Jerez. The garage here is ready and waiting and we look forward to seeing the car arrive tomorrow. Thanks for all your support!”
Also absent from the test was the Lotus E22. Lotus decided some time ago to skip the first test, which means that the first running of their new car will take place in Bahrain on 19 February.
It was expected that the first day of testing would be relatively quiet. With all-new power units in the cars, the complexity involved in this year’s testing is significantly greater than was the case last year. And teething problems are inevitable. There were plenty of those.
McLaren did not run their new car, the MP4-29, at all, after electrical problems hampered their efforts throughout the day. Caterham managed only one lap with their new driver, Marcus Ericsson. Sebastian Vettel covered just three laps in the Red Bull RB10 and did not set a lap time.
It was only a matter of time before someone crashed in testing, and the first man to damage his car on track was Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes W05. To be fair to Hamilton, it really was not his fault at all. The front wing of his Mercedes failed at high speed on the main straight, which effectively prevented him from slowing down enough to take the first corner. Hamilton went off into the tyre barrier at the end of the straight in an accident very similar to that of Fernando Alonso in Malaysia last year.
Fortunately, Hamilton was unhurt and the damage to the car did not appear to be too extensive. Mercedes nonetheless decided not to run again for the rest of the day in order to investigate the cause of the front wing failure.
Until his accident, Hamilton was comfortably the quickest driver of the day and looked set to cover more mileage than anyone else. As it turned out, Kimi Raikkonen went on to set the standard for the day in both respects. He covered 31 laps in the Ferrari F14 T and set the fastest time of the day, seven tenths of a second quicker than Hamilton’s best effort.
Lap times in testing seldom mean much, as it’s difficult to know exactly what the teams are testing at any given point. With brand new cars that are as different to their predecessors as this year’s F1 cars, lap times on day 1 of testing mean nothing at all, so there is very little point in analysing them.
What is perhaps telling at this point is the amount of mileage the teams were able to cover. Ferrari did more than twice as many laps as any other team aside from Mercedes. That is the result of a measure of reliability, which will please the team greatly. It remains to be seen whether or not the F14 T will continue to run without problems in testing. The car did stop on track on its very first installation lap in the morning, but Ferrari reported that the stoppage was “precautionary.”
Here are the lap times and lap count for each team from day 1 in Jerez:
1. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1m 27.104s, 31 laps
2. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes , 1m 27.820s, 18 laps
3. Valtteri Bottas, Williams, 1m 30.082s, 7 laps
4. Sergio Perez, Force India, 1m 33.161s, 11 laps
5. Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso, 1m 36.530s, 15 laps
6. Esteban Gutierrez, Sauber, 1m 42.257s, 7 laps
7. Sebastian Vettel , Red Bull, No time, 3 laps
8. Marcus Ericsson, Caterham, No time, 1 lap
The much awaited Mercedes W05 was unveiled in Jerez, Spain this morning before testing for the 2014 season began. The car did not disappoint – visually, at least.
Most of the cars unveiled thus far (the only one we haven’t seen at all is the Marussia, which should arrive in Jerez tomorrow) have unsightly phallic protrusions at the end of their noses. According to the experts, that arrangement is aerodynamically optimal. If the experts are right, then Mercedes and Ferrari have got it wrong, because they are the two teams who have designed cars with more conventional nose-ends.
Mercedes has long been known for producing attractive racing cars, and the W05 is certainly that. The nose looks good, which cannot be said for the rest of the field. The livery on the W05 features more black than in previous seasons, but still retains enough of its signature silver to be obviously a Silver Arrow.
What is unknown about the car is its speed and reliability. For the first half of today’s first day of testing, it looked like Lewis Hamilton would easily top the times and cover the most mileage for the day. But then the wheels came off, so to speak. Hamilton’s front wing failed under braking for turn one and he crashed, not too heavily, into the tyre barrier at the end of the main straight.
It will be some comfort to Mercedes that the failure was not related to the engine, or “power unit” as it is now known. But they will still be anxious to sort out the issue that allowed the front wing to fail at high speed.
The Mercedes AMG F1 team has revealed that its 2014 car, the W05, will display a message of support for Michael Schumacher during the first pre-season test that begins tomorrow in Jerez, Spain.
Schumacher was injured in a skiing accident on 29 December. The retired seven-time World Champion remains in an artificial coma after undergoing surgery in the hours and days following his accident. It is not yet known to what extent Schumacher might recover or when such a recovery can be expected to take place.
Following his total domination of Formula One with Ferrari, Schumacher retired in 2006 before making a comeback with Mercedes in 2010. Although the comeback did not yield the results that were targeted, Schumacher became very much a part of the team and was held in high esteem and affection by his fellow team members. The message shown on the W05 during the coming test is an indication that they, like the rest of the racing community, are anxious for positive news from Schumacher’s doctors.
Mercedes are not the only team to be showing support for Schumacher. Messages of support have been sent by all of the teams to the family, and Ferrari have rallied behind Schumacher’s family, showing their support with personal communication and public shows of solidarity.