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
Formula One teams will continue to use Pirelli tyres exclusively for the next three seasons, the Italian tyre manufacturer confirmed today. Following the World Motor Sport Council’s decision to confirm Pirelli’s status as F1’s sole tyre supplier, Pirelli and the FIA have agreed terms for a three-year contract.
There have been some issues with Pirelli’s tyres over the past three seasons, and those can at least partly be attributed to the limited amount of on-track testing available to Pirelli. As such, there have been some changes made to the sporting regulations ahead of the 2014 season to ensure that Pirelli can develop a safer and more competitve product.
Firstly, one of the 12 pre-season test days will be dedicated exclusively to the testing of Pirelli’s wet weather tyres. Presumably that means Pirelli will wet the track if the weather does not do it for them on that day. It’s not unusual for tyres to be tested on an artificially wet track – Pirelli has been testing their wet tyres in this manner since becoming F1’s sole tyre supplier in 2011. The difference this season is that the wet testing will be done with current F1 cars, whereas previous seasons have seen tyre testing only on F1 cars that were no longer current.
Secondly, each team will be required to allocate one of their eight in-season test days to tyre testing. That way, Pirelli and the teams will be able to concentrate on tyre development during the season, where this has not previously been the case (with one notable exception in 2013 following some spectacular tyre failures). The teams will choose their in-season tyre test days in such a way that at least one team is tyre testing on each of the eight days, and no more than two teams will be tyre testing on the same day.
The 2014 season provides Pirelli with their greatest challenge yet in Formula One. The change in engine formula for this season from naturally aspirated V8s to turbocharged hybrid V6 powerplants will result in the engines producing significantly more torque than before. The additional torque will place extra stress on the rear tyres, which will have to be designed to handle the increased loads.
The majority of Pirelli’s 2014 tyre development should be completed by now, as pre-season testing begins in Jerez, Spain on 28 January, which is just 12 days away.
In addition to their work as F1 tyre supplier, Pirelli have announced that they and the FIA will discuss a possible partnership on the FIA Action for Road Safety campaign.
After losing time to an electrical failure on day one and a hydraulic failure on day two of the first pre-season test in Jerez, Mercedes were back on track for day three. Nico Rosberg racked up a massive total of 148 laps, easily topping the distance charts for the day, in the W04 as the team continued to evaluate the new car.
148 laps of the Jerez circuit is a long, long way to drive in a Formula One car. Each lap is 4.428km long, which means Rosberg covered a little over 655km in a single day – over two full race distances. Esteban Gutierrez in the Sauber was next on 110 laps, some way behind Rosberg.
Although Mercedes put a lot of mileage on the new car, which is essential at this stage of testing, their work is only just beginning. With only 12 days of pre-season testing in total, and two mostly lost to reliability issues, the team has to effectively squash its testing schedule into 10 days – not ideal for a team that wants to win races this season.
But Mercedes are clearly going about recovering from their early setbacks as well as they possibly can. After his running ended prematurely on day two, new Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton said, “If we can get 110 to 120 laps per day then that would be a good comeback.” The team has easily beaten that aim, and will no doubt look to do so again when testing resumes on day four.
During his first day of testing as a Mercedes driver, Lewis Hamilton crashed the team’s new W04 in Jerez, Spain this morning after a failure of a hydraulic line to the right-rear brake caliper caused a loss of rear brake pressure. Hamilton escaped unhurt from the crash, but the car suffered some damage to the front wing and front suspension. Mercedes sat out the rest of the day’s testing in order to make the necessary repairs, but will be back in action tomorrow morning with Nico Rosberg in the cockpit.
It’s only the second day of pre-season testing, but Mercedes have now had problems on both days that have resulted in limited running. Yesterday saw the car stop on track due to an electrical failure after only three runs in the morning, and today’s accident happened after only 15 laps. The lack of running will be frustrating for all at Mercedes. After all, testing is all about spending time on the track to learn about the car and troubleshoot issues.
On the plus side for Mercedes, it is still early in the testing schedule, which means there is time to iron out issues like those yesterday and today that negatively impact the reliability of the car.
Hamilton will be back in the car for the final day of the Jerez test on Friday.
Poland’s Robert Kubica yesterday completed his first day of circuit testing since sustaining serious injuries in a rally crash in February 2011. Kubica drove a DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, Spain, and reported afterwards that his day had gone well.
Robert Kubica: “My first day of testing in a DTM car was great fun and I learned a lot about the series and the DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé. The first installation lap was in the dry, then a few heavy showers of rain came down and we had to wait for the track to dry out. All in all, it was a good experience, getting to know the car in different weather conditions. I was able to get to grips with the DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé and felt very comfortable in the car, even though after my long break it meant adjusting to the high downforce that a state-of-the art DTM race car produces. I’m very pleased with my performance on this first day of DTM testing and had no problems whatsoever in the car.”
During a day that was interrupted by early showers, Kubica completed 114 laps of the circuit, equivalent to 456.570 kilometres, which is approximately one and a half Formula One race distances and comfortably more than two DTM race distances. Mercedes did not quote lap times in their press release, but a Polish source suggested that Kubica’s times were within a few tenths of experienced DTM driver Gary Paffett, which is very impressive for Kubica’s first test in a downforce-producing car in two years.
Whether or not Kubica will be able to drive a single-seater remains to be seen – there are still doubts about the mobility of his right arm in the confined space of a Formula One cockpit. Nonetheless, his comfort in a DTM car indicates that he is fit for racing at a high level and that means it should not be long before Robert Kubica is competing on a race track once again.
See photos of Kubica’s DTM test: Kubica tests Merc DTM car – photo gallery