Power Ranking the Formula 1 Teams After Jerez Pre-Season Test
The first 2014 Formula One test at Jerez last week gave us a chance to see 10 of the 11 teams in action.
Mercedes-engined cars dominated the timesheets, with Ferrari also putting in a solid shift. Meanwhile, despite the French manufacturer's recent success, those with a Renault power plant suffered non-stop technical issues.
Looking at apparent speed, reliability and how confident the teams will be going forward, here's how they rank at this stage.
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One team didn't show up to the test, so they come in last by default.
Lotus will make their 2014 testing debut at the Bahrain International Circuit. With so many changes to the regulations to deal with, missing Jerez may cost them dear.
A back row lockout for the Enstone team.
On the bright side, they can only go forward from here.
10. Red Bull
Red Bull had a thoroughly miserable test. Despite working closely with Renault on ensuring the car and engine fitted together properly, the RB10 has significant issues.
It's too tightly packaged (at this stage, at least), and the various bits and pieces of the powertrain can't get enough cooling. The team gave up running after 21 laps.
Adrian Newey has gone back to his trusty drawing board to find a solution, but right now they're in serious trouble.
It remains to be seen whether they'll be ready for Bahrain.
Another team powered by the problematic Renault engine, Caterham at least managed to put some laps on the board—but they were excruciatingly slow.
Their best lap was a full 14 seconds slower than the week's quickest. The team were obviously running the engine very carefully for their 76 laps, and at the moment they couldn't hope to last a full race distance.
They'd probably manage a few laps, though, so they're not dead last.
8. Toro Rosso
Of all the Renault teams, Toro Rosso had the best test—but that's a bit like being the best song on a Justin Bieber album.
It's not much of an accolade.
Their best lap time, set by Jean-Eric Vergne on Day 2, was quicker than those of Sauber and Marussia. However, the technical gremlins which plagued all the Renault teams restricted them to just 54 laps.
Breakdowns were common and smiles were in short supply.
Not a great week for the Italians.
Marussia missed the first two days of the test because of a problem discovered back at the factory. Once they arrived, the car did a respectable job.
Despite only doing a total of 30 laps, Jules Bianchi put in a time on the fourth day that was only four seconds down on the day's best.
The overall reliability of the package is still unknown because of their lack of running.
The other Ferrari teams went well, though, so they're in better shape than anything powered by Renault.
Sauber had a quiet and productive week, managing to remain almost anonymous. Normally, that's a bad thing—at this test, it was the opposite.
The little drama the team experienced consisted mainly of a couple of spins by Adrian Sutil on Day 2 and Day 3. Both were down to driver error.
Despite the time lost from those incidents, the Swiss team still managed a respectable 163 laps.
Their pace wasn't fantastic, but a reasonable start puts them sixth.
5. Force India
Force India dumped their 2013 challenger very early to start work on this year's car. Early signs are that while they haven't made a huge leap forward, they have a strong base upon which to build.
Like the other midfield runners, they had a slow start to the test and ended on a more positive note. Reserve driver Daniel Juncadella managed 81 laps on the damp final day.
Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez managed just 17 and 48 laps, respectively.
They're the ones who need the laps in Bahrain.
Williams were the surprise package of the Jerez test.
Valtteri Bottas spent both Day 1 and Day 2 laying the foundations and getting to grips with the Mercedes powertrain, managing only 42 laps.
However, when Felipe Massa took over for the final two days, he managed 133—the fourth highest total for a driver.
The team's overall number of laps (175) was quite a way behind Mercedes, McLaren and Ferrari, but better than any other "midfielder" managed.
With a best lap only four-10ths down on the quickest of the week, Williams can be pleased with their progress.
Ferrari's start wasn't much better than McLaren's, but the Italian team got up and running properly by the middle of the first day. Their total of 251 laps was second only to Mercedes.
Their engine looks good from what we've seen, and relatively small cooling inlets are not causing any problems.
One thing which may concern Ferrari is that cars running their engines did only half as many laps as Mercedes-powered cars. Engine data at this stage is crucial, and the more a team can get, the better.
However, like McLaren, they seem to have made progress from last year. They can be happy as they head to Bahrain.
McLaren had a disastrous opening day, but quickly solved their problems and ended the test looking very strong.
They did a total of 245 laps over the final three days and ended the week with the quickest time overall—Kevin Magnussen's 1:23.276.
The step up the team seem to have made from last year appears to be substantial, and Magnussen is getting to grips with F1 very quickly.
On the downside, everyone else is already copying their innovative rear suspension, so that's one advantage they're going to lose almost straight away.
Mercedes completed the most laps of any team, and were doing a race simulation while many of their rivals were struggling to get out of the pits.
The engine the German manufacturer has produced appears to be the strongest at this stage, and the car itself looks effortlessly quick (by 2014 testing standards). Neither driver pushed hard, but lap times were good.
More importantly, the car seems to be reliable. Mercedes did 309 laps, more than anyone else.
No team will be happier after Jerez.