#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.

~ by thejudge13 on January 28, 2014.

17 Responses to “#F1 Testing: Jerez Day 1 – A Damp Squib and Renault’s Woes Revealed”

  1. Hmmm. I always understood the saying to be “A damp squiB” with a “squib” being a small firework; thus, a damp one wouldn’t be very exciting…

    Maybe I’ve been wrong all these years!!

    • You are right it is a damp squib, and we had ‘setting a president’ the other day too, there are a few of these that often get a chortle from me.

  2. Best news of the day is that they dont sound terrible in your opinion. Ugly noses and bad noises would be too much to bare.

    • “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.”< < < I'm REALLY looking fwd to the formation lap, countdown and dash to turn 1 at the first GP!!

      I think it will be an amazing cacophony and gas-baggy sound assault!

  3. Very small point but the (connecting) rod is the part that converts the ‘up & down’ movement of the piston into a rotating crankshaft – which is *not* a rod…
    “For the less technically minded”… ;) – I don’t understand ‘aero’ but I’m a bit better with old-fashioned engineering.

  4. Judge, what’s the opinion inside the teams? Did they expect this first day of testing to be this difficult?

    * * *

    Interesting that the only two teams that build their power units in house were the only ones able to do more than a few laps. I was expecting like 30-40% of DNFs in Australia. Now I think I was too optimistic.

    • Spoke to a number of people who can comment on the ‘pulse’ of feeling within their team… They knew it would be tough for their outfit, but thought others were further ahead…

      Bizarre… So there was a consensus each team knew they were on the edge, but they dared not admit it, as they thought they were the odd ones out… Hence my comment about with hindsight the early test was ill advised….

      • Thanks for that context for your earlier comment.

        Given the complexities of these new systems, (much more electronics than before), I wasn’t aware of the feeling of rushed desparation amongst the teams. Well done!

    • Never mind the number of DNFs; how many DNQs are we going to see ?

      • However DNQs like contracts don’t mean much in F1. They will allow those drivers to race based in their times from FPs. But you are right.
        I also expect semi-empty grids in the last part of the year after the teams have used their fifth and last power unit.

  5. I count 93 laps today vs. 654 last year on the first testing day?

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