#F1 Testing: Jerez Day 1 – A Damp Squib and Renault’s Woes Revealed
One of the most eagerly awaited F1 days in living memory resulted in a mere 68 laps being completed by Ferrari, Force India, Williams, Mercedes, Caterham, Sauber and a lap from Red Bull at the death. Many of these laps were not even a lap as they were either an out or in lap.
To put this into context, 637 laps were completed by the teams on day 1 here in Spain last year. After an early failure between turns 4 and 5 which resulted in an inordinate delay, Kimi in his Ferrari completed 31 laps. Lewis Hamilton managed 18 laps before a front wing failure saw him hit the wall on his first day out, just as he did last year when brakes were to blame.
We saw the Mercedes, Red Bull, Caterham and Force India cars in the flesh for the first time, and in my opinion, Mercedes have delivered a machine which of the current crop of F1 offerings is easiest on the eye.
As I commented last night, TJ13 has learned that Renault Sport F1 have dropped a huge bollock as their crankshaft allegedly is not fit for purpose. My first reaction was that this would be utterly incredible when you consider the new Renault powertrain has been in the making for approaching 2 years.
We predicted no running for the RB10 today, which in reality was the case. Noticeably the Toro Rosso, the only Renault powered car to set a proper time, was nearly 10 seconds slower than the Mercedes and the Ferrari and 7 seconds slower than Bottas – as it tip-toed around seemingly concerned about pushing too hard. After 15 laps, the Toro Rosso eventually broke down and wasn’t seen again.
Sebastian Vettel smiled for the assembled photographers at the car launch and was his usual amiable self at the press conference, but off camera this morning he had a dark look about him, as presumably he knew he was getting little time behind the wheel today.
Having delved a little deeper into the Renault problem, it appears thankfully for fans of their teams that the issue is not one of fundamental design. There seems to have been a problem in the batch of crankshafts manufactured for the engines produced for the tests. For those less technically minded, the crankshaft is a rod which translates the up and down motion from the pistons into a rotational motion which eventually turns the wheels.
There is no word as to whether the Renault powered cars will be able to run flat out tomorrow, though Adrian Newey’s explanation for the absence of his latest creation was “a silly problem” which became evident overnight.
McLaren apparently had problems with their gearbox and electrical systems. In other words they couldn’t turn the car on and even if that was possible, they had no drive to power the car.
Prior to this year, the teams were not allowed to test in January and they went to great lengths to persuade the FIA to allow them to hit the circuit in Southern Spain a week earlier than usual. In hindsight, the wisdom of this looks questionable, though the idea was to give the engineers longer between test 1 and 2 to resolve incremental teething matters.
The Marussia car is on its way to Jerez in a truck as I write this and Lotus are defending the legality of their nose design vehemently.
For the few laps the Mercedes and Ferrari were pushing, the sound of the engines was not as bad as I’d feared – and when 22 of them fire up on the grid, I suspect the noise will be pretty epic.
Let’s hope we get some more running on day 2.