Brought to you by John Myburgh
This was always going to be a tough week for the F1 teams as they embraced the enormous changes necessary for 2014.
In 2013 the teams managed a total of 3529 laps combined over the 4 days of the Jerez test. This year just 1471 laps were possible from a field of 10 teams. The split between the engine manufacturers was stark with Mercedes customers racking up 875 laps, Ferrari with one less team managing 444 laps and predictably the Renault teams just 151 laps between them.
Caterham were allowed by Renault to push the envelope today and completed in total 76 laps, with Toro Rosso on 54 and Red Bull an absolute disastrous 21 laps in 4 days. I cannot describe accurately the utter dejection of the collective from Milton Keynes and even though one well known F1 writer – who was not here – appears to be dismissive of the impact this will have on the world champions, they are indeed in huge trouble…. whatever his opinion.
I was surprised to hear Adrian Newey on Monday questioning the validity of the new nose regulations and certain teams’ interpretations of these on the grounds of safety. Yet knowing Renault had advised F1’s guru designer to restrict his new creation to just 250km (56 laps) maybe this comment was designed to deflect from what was going to be an embarrassing week for the world champions.
The FIA are apparently investigating the nose designs on the grounds of safety, though for some the spectre of more rule changes in season – as happened over the 2013 tyres – is unpalatable regardless of Newey’s beliefs.
As I reported yesterday, I have been informed by a source whose reliability is unquestionable, the complete fix for Renault’s woes will take between 15 and 20 weeks, and seeing as it was TJ13 who exclusively revealed the Renault problems on Monday night – days before anyone else – this information is equally solid.
The engines are soon to be homologated, which leaves Renault up against it should this be enforced by the FIA. TJ13 learned from an FIA source that this will be ‘looked at’ in an attempt to cut Renault some slack if necessary. Rob White of Renault Sport is not concerned. “The homologation deadline is the end of February and is fundamental to regulations. Beyond that time, changes are permitted only with prior approval from the FIA. Change is not forbidden, but subject to the sporting regulations and we should not get so hung up on this date”.
TJ13 was led to believe on Tuesday that the problem could be a production/fabrication issue only, however as the week has progressed, the French engine manufacturer has been forced to look again at aspects of their powertrain design.
The world’s media were here on Tuesday en masse and even those not working for their employers turned up to hear the sound of the new V6 Turbo engines. Damon Hill was mooching around the circuit watching the cars cornering and listening to the tone of the powertrains and was heard to privately comment he was satisfied the noise would be acceptable once 22 cars lined up in anger.
The engines are significantly different and instantly recognisable even to the uneducated ear. We’ve tried to bring you some of the sights and sounds of the new cars, and I thank the TJ13 team back in Blighty for their efforts in editing the audio and visual files.
Ecclestone has predictably been banging his drum stating the change in engines was ‘farcical’ and ‘unnecessary’. Regardless the new Turbo charged V6 F1 engines are now here and here to stay, whatever the views of the vertically challenged man from Suffolk.
All the engine manufacturers have been cautious in how hard they have allowed the engines to rev. Parts are scarce and I’m fairly certain no team with the possible exception of Ferrari had the luxury of a spare powertrain to plug in should they blow the one they started the week with.
TJ13 learned that it would have only have been today when we heard the Mercedes and Ferrari at full clack. The wet weather mitigated against this and so it is likely we’ve not heard a sustained burst of a V6 turbo at 15,000rpm.
Clear winners in the engine customer merry go round are Williams and big losers are Toro Rosso. The team from Grove are clearly cock-a-hoop tonight and their car looks well balanced too with both Massa and Bottas at times looking very impressive.
Despite some comments I’ve heard made by senior Red Bull personnel inferring that Renault are responsible for a large part of their woes, this is not a fair representation of reality – the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth even. Yes there are scary mutterings of structural mounting issues of the MGU on the block but Newey always packages his cars in a tight fashion and this is contributing to the migraines in Milton Keynes. Caterham’s ability to deliver over 70 laps compared to the RB10’s 21 (374 in 2013) is evidence of this fact.
Further, Rob White of Renault makes a telling revelation when he states, “Some problems are particular to one installation environment”.
There is not just one element at the rear of the RB10 which is being affected by overheating, and the overnight fix that saw a chunk of the rear bodywork being cut away to assist cooling failed miserably, as Ricciardo completed just 7 laps today before the team decided around 11am to pack up and go home.
Ricciardo commented Newey was returning to his ‘drawing board’, so expect to see some significant visual changes by Bahrain. Further, the young Australian made a telling comment when he admitted, “it’s a long season. These guys know how to win and I’m sure sooner rather than later we are going to get it together. It’s still early days.” Expectations inside the team over their competitiveness improving anytime soon are clearly low.
The cars will be on track in Melbourne six weeks today and it is no exaggeration to say that the mountains Renault and Red Bull have to climb, between now and then, are of epic proportions.
After a week of 18 hour days, this is one banger of a gavel who is taking a few days R&R in what was hoped to be a sunny Iberian peninsula, though cool weather and rain will mean this judge will not be donning his ‘speedos’ and taking to the beaches around Cadiz. There will be no big reveal in Andalucia this weekend!
Catch you all next Tuesday when I return to what will probably be a colder and wetter England – so I’ll not complain too much and get visiting the bodega’s of the fabulous Jerez.
Total Laps Completed by Team:
1. Mercedes – 309
2. Ferrari – 251
3. McLaren – 245
4. Williams (Mercedes) – 175
5. Sauber (Ferrari) – 163
6. Force India (Mercedes) – 146
7. Caterham (Renault) – 76
8. Toro Rosso (Renault) – 54
9. Marussia (Ferrari) – 30
10. Red Bull (Renault) – 21
Total Laps Completed by Manufacturer:
1. Mercedes – 875 (4 teams)
2. Ferrari – 444 (3 teams)
3. Renault – 151 (3 teams)