Winners and Losers from 1st F1 Pre-Season Test in Jerez
Daniel Ricciardo spent more time out of the car
And so the dust has settled on the eagerly anticipated first pre-season test session of the 2014 Formula One season.
It was one that threw up more questions than answers with the radical new aerodynamic and engine regulations affecting some teams more adversely than others.
Here are the winners and losers from the opening test.
The Mercedes looked good and ran well
When Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg pulled the wraps off the Mercedes W05, the first pleasant surprise was that it looked good.
Coming after some rather shocking-looking chassis launches before, Mercedes designers found a way of interpreting the new aero regulations to progressively slope the nose without adding any ugly appendages.
The proof, as they say, is in the pudding—it’s one thing to look nice but another entirely to run well. Aside from a rather alarming front-wing failure that saw Hamilton clatter into the barriers on the opening morning, Mercedes racked up substantial mileage over the four days and were always near the top of the time sheets.
Still in the embryonic stages of testing the new 1.6-litre V6 turbocharged engines, reliability was always the priority and Mercedes clocked up more mileage than any other team with Rosberg even managing a race simulation run on the final day.
Cool, day 4 of testing & already completed a full race practice. Will now hand over the car to @lewishamilton— Nico Rosberg (@nico_rosberg) January 31, 2014
Speaking after the testing, Rosberg told Autosport:
With reliability and everything, it's been a decent mark up to now. I'm very pleased with that because that was the most important thing for this test.
It did start quite tough for us, but the team did a really good job to turn it around and now we've really got the kilometres going with lots of laps.
Nothing is at potential, not even the driver because it's just important to do a lot of kilometres and then we'll push in Melbourne. Well we're always pushing for performance as well but the focus at the moment is on reliability, and then slowly but surely it needs to shift.
Red Bull managed just 21 laps in total
The undoubted loser over the first four days of testing was the team that went into 2014 as pre-season favourites.
With design genius Adrian Newey expected to unleash another monster for Red Bull, it proved to be exactly that—but not in a good way.
The new RB10 managed a disastrous 21 laps over the four days as Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo spent the majority of their time twiddling their thumbs in the garage.
The problems revolved around battery problems related to the ERS unit as well as cooling issues with the Renault power unit.
Kevin Magnussen impressed on his first outing
Another team that got the most out of its new Mercedes power unit was McLaren.
Both Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen also managed substantial mileage over the course of the test, and in young Dane Magnussen, the initial signs were extremely promising.
Magnussen managed 52 laps on his opening afternoon and set the quickest time of the day in the process. And despite a couple of spins on the final afternoon when pushing his steed a little harder, it was an impressive start.
Renault had many questions to answer in Jerez
Red Bull was not the only Renault-powered team to experience issues during the course of the opening test with both Toro Rosso and Caterham experiencing similar problems.
Despite the problems, Renault’s F1 engine chief Rob White told Autosport that they know what the problems are and how to fix them:
We are extremely confident that the problems we have experienced can be dealt with. We don't have a single minor problem or indeed a big howler that is causing the trouble.
Looking forward to Bahrain and beyond, the aim is to make best use of the time available and to get ready for then. We had objectives for the first test that won't have been fully realised and therefore the step up we need for Bahrain is absolutely bigger. But we are determined and committed to get there and we will work with the teams to fix the problem.
Massa was quickest on the final day
Opinions were very much divided over the look of the Williams FW36 when the initial sketches of its "anteater" nose were released.
But it soon became clear that the design was not as radical as that of some other teams, and when testing got underway, it also performed well.
Much attention was focused on Felipe Massa and whether or not the popular Brazilian had made the correct choice to join Williams, or indeed if he still had the drive and passion to succeed.
But those fears were soon put to rest when Massa set the second-fastest time of the day on his first outing for the team before topping the timesheets on the final day of testing.
Will we see a Marussia in the points early on?
For those Formula One fans who want to see an end to the predictability of almost every car making the finish line with Red Bull leading the way, on first impressions the new regulations can only be a good thing.
Reliability is certain to play a significant part in the opening few races and set to really shuffle up the grid due to engine overheating issues. A Caterham or Marussia in the points early on? Don’t rule it out.
The new noses haven't met with universal approval
Just as the new regulations are bound to shake up the field and put an end to the monotonous predictability of F1 racing, it also means that the best drivers will be punished by circumstances outside their control.
Christian Horner went as far as saying that as much as half of the field could retire in the season opener, as reported by Autosport after an interview on Bloomberg TV. Is it really a sport when it becomes a lottery as to who wins?
Then there are the aesthetics of the sport to consider with the new aero regulations forcing engineers into some rather hideous-looking designs. The Ferrari has been likened to a vacuum cleaner, the Williams to an anteater and the Toro Rosso nose to an Ann Summers toy!