Brought to you by John Myburgh
The rate of in season development of the cars in F1 means that the results of the Jerez test could never reveal who would be the ultimate victors in either the constructors’ or drivers’ race for the championship titles in 2014. However, those with some historic knowledge of the sport know that this test will identify those teams whose new prototype offerings are well behind the curve.
TJ13 stated on the eve of this test that the Renault teams would be restricted in their running, which for Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Caterham has been proven to be the case. We also revealed that the French engine manufacturer had informed their customer teams that the maximum running their current power train could offer was 250km.
It was telling that whilst McLaren who failed to get their car ready for Jenson on day 1, rescheduled their drivers to share the remaining 3 days; Red Bull on the contrary allowed Sebastian Vettel to jet off home last night even though days 1 and 2 saw him complete a mere 11 laps. Clearly things were not about to improve.
I tweeted this morning that Red Bull would not be running before 11am having suffered “serious issues” during the night shifts work on the car. In the end it didn’t matter whether the car hit the track at 11, 12 or 3 o’ clock as it was good for just 3 laps for new boy Daniel Ricciardo.
When I heard of Renault’s woes on Monday, I was incredulous that an engine manufacturer who had dominated the V8 era for 8 years had after 2 years of design and build produced a powertrain so woefully lacking. Yet we now know this is the case.
Whilst each of the Renault customer teams have worries of their own which do not relate to the engine, TJ13 has discovered that the French F1 engine manufacturer now requires around 20 weeks to rectify the problems they are currently experiencing. This takes us up to the British Grand Prix.
Adrian Newey and Christian Horner are reportedly on their way back to Milton Keynes tonight as the scale of the crisis is becoming apparent to the F1 world. As Daniel Ricciardo commented, their guru car designer is literally returning to “the drawing board”.
Simply put, there are components in the Renault engine which will fail should it be pushed beyond around 75%. On top of this, the RB10 has cooling issues for the energy recovery systems, the engine and various other associated components.
It appears tonight as though the might and utter dominance of Red Bull for the past 4 years is over as they are 6 weeks from Melbourne with a car design unable to accommodate the necessary cooling requirements and a power train unable to complete the race in Melbourne.
Daniel Ricciardo commented, “even if we go to Melbourne, still a bit.. whatever…. It’s a long season”. It appears the message has percolated down that Red Bull and Renault will be seriously behind the curve for some time to come.
For the non-Renault teams, day 3 was a decent workout with the Mercedes teams looking particularly strong posting the top four times for the day.
I have to say, the McLaren is looking by some margin the best balanced car. Having spent the day walking the circuit, whether in the hands of world champion Jenson Button or rookie Kevin Magnusson, the MP4-29 was cornering as though it was on rails.
McLaren have taken a huge gamble by ditching protégé Sergio Perez and recruiting Kevin Magnusson whose highest level experience has been in the Renault World Series championship. This appointment reveals how highly the team from Woking regard this rookie driver, because they do have egg on their face from the recruitment and dismissal of Perez, and they can’t afford another driver mistake.
I had no 3G as I spent the afternoon around the back of the circuit and therefore was completely unaware of the lap times being set. Yet Magnusson was clearly hitting every apex, breaking to almost perfection and driving the car with the ease and rhythm of someone who has been a pilot at the top level of single seater motorsport for many years.
Whilst Lewis was experimenting with different gear shift patterns through the long turn 5 onto the back straight, Magnussun was metronomic in his approach to this corner for lap after lap.
This kid is clearly the real deal, and before the bookies get wind of his talent, for those of you willing to take a punt, whatever his odds for the world title, he’s well worth a few quid.
It’s good to see Felipe Massa settling into his new team so quickly, and the Williams must be thanking their lucky stars they bailed out of the Renault stable. With their new Mercedes engine the FW 36 looked racey and quick, though at times twitchy at the rear.
Every dynasty rises and falls, and whilst it’s too early to write off Newey and the Red Bull with their budget of hundreds of millions, they are unquestionably in a fight to deliver a car capable of completing a Grand Prix at present, never mind providing quadruple world champion Sebastian Vettel with a car capable of a significant points scoring position.
Day 3 Standings:
Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1. Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 1m23.276s 52
2. Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1m23.700s +0.424s 47
3. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m23.952s +0.676s 62
4. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m25.030s +1.754s 40
5. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m25.495s +2.219s 58
6. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1m26.096s +2.820s 17
7. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Renault 1m29.915s +6.639s 30
8. Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 1m30.161s +6.885s 34
9. Robin Frijns Caterham-Renault No time – 10
10. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault No time – 3
11. Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari No time – 5