#F1 Testing: Jerez Day 4 – Migraines in Milton Keynes

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.

FORMULA 1 - Test in JerezI 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”.

Renault F1

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.

Jerez SunsetAfter 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)

30 responses to “#F1 Testing: Jerez Day 4 – Migraines in Milton Keynes

  1. Great articles. You are probably the only one reporting what is really happening in Jerez and not just copying and pasting teams´ press releases and favorable opinions. I´m going to miss these reports in Bahrain.

    • Now I hope you have good contacts inside Red Bull to keep us informed of the drama that will go on there in the next three weeks 😉

  2. Good stuff thsi week Judge, enjoyed the updates and sound and video bites. Thank you.

    “Caterham’s ability to deliver over 70 laps compared to the RB10’s 21 (374 in 2013) is evidence of this fact.”

    Everyone made a fuss about how big their sidepods were (ho ho) compared to the other Renault teams, but it seems like a little over cooling, or excessive caution may have been the way to go. They can always tighten up the packaging later when the powertrains are better understood. A good effort by the Caterham team on that basis.

  3. so……….newey built a car that basically doesnt work and renault built an engine that err………..basically doesnt work.

    it will be fascinating watching them recover,this year is shaping up to be something special.

    forza alonso.

  4. Hey – just a little note – I’ve added the number of laps completed for the top 3 teams from the Autosport Live Index feed and I think it should look like this:

    Mercedes 309 (18+97+62+132)

    Ferrari 251

    Mclaren 245 (0+43+92+110)

  5. “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.”

    +1 for poking the bear. 😉

  6. Pingback: Formula 1 - 2014 - Page 3·

  7. You can just see the scene, Horner goes up to Vettel and says “Sorry Seb, looks like Adrian and I spent the winter with our balls in the pool”… hehe

    • It’s pretty obviously RB and Newey’s extreme packaging, but there’s one thing that baffles me: White said, they solved the first day probs ‘with the help of Red Bull’, so either they guzzled tons of the disgusting stuff or he was meaning to say that RB has an active role in engine development. How in the name of all that’s holy did they only learn about Newey’s too extreme packaging at Jerez?? 😮

      • That must be the million dollar question Danilo, to be honest, when some said that the teams who produced everything in-house, a perfect integration between the design of the car and that of the power unit, had an advantage, I found that a little hard to believe, but now, those words make more and more sense. (Renault not a 100% on RB’s side, because of that Infinty thingy?)

        Or did RB really suffer the los off key personnel? I can’t imagine Peter Promodrou will make up for that, or even be serious involved for 2014, since he’s McLaren bound for 2015.

        So, are we going to see a return to the front of Williams and Mclaren? The Merc engine, sorry power unit, certainly looks impressive, but from what I read, Mercedes tested their engine at full power at some stages of the tests, Ferrari said they didn’t and still got (almost) similar results, is one of them bluffing?

        I have my money, as always, on Ferrari and am counting on James Allison to keep the stream of (working) updates coming.

        • Remember though, that Merc set their good times on a 80+ lap run, so what we’ve seen from them is race pace and quite frankly that’s sort of frightening (for the competition). We’d have to hear a verdict from the judge, but from where I’m sitting, it looked like all Merc teams were pretty well off, the Ferrari teams were ‘meh’ with the Scuderia slightly better and the less said about the Renault teams, the better. Looks like we’re going to see a 3-class society this year with Ferrari occasionally upsetting the order.
          Hopefully Bahrain will prove me wrong. But there’s always Indycar, DTM and WEC. I just can’t warm to F1 2014 and it has nothing to do with certain teams. It’s just the feeling that between butt ugly cars, stupid rules und the outlook of another ‘one wins everything’ year there’s not much to look forward to.

  8. My biggest question after first round of testing: How big is the difference between Mercedes engine and Ferrari engine in terms of power? Is the difference small enough to allow Ferrari to fight for championship or will it be internal Merc engines fight between works team and McLaren (or maybe Williams too)? I don’t believe that Red Bull will be in that fight.

    • No one knows yet – and even if they do, they’re not saying.

      In any event, it’s not just going to be about maximum power.
      Although the tyres are likely to be much more durable, race performance is still likely to be tyre (particularly rear tyre) limited. Overheating the tyres won’t destroy them, but it will still degrade performance. Controlling wheel spin out of corners will be crucial (and will also save fuel).

      Equally, sorting out the rear wheel regenerative braking will be important for competitive lap times. There are suggestions that Ferrari have an advantage in this respect.

      More speculative are suggestions that Ferrari have an advantage in the overall thermodynamic efficiency of their power train. If true, this could give them the advantage at fuel limited circuits, even if they are a bit down on maximum power.

    • I’d say the only question is whether the works team or McLaren wins it. Ferrari looked decent, but not really on the same level. Times mean nothing at Jerez, but the top of the time sheets notheless were mainly Merc teams and they ran a bazillion of laps in comparison. Renault is pretty much out of it – they built a pub and it doesn’t even sell beer. Ferrari micht be challenging for podiums, but ‘nando will lose again, just to a different German this time 😉

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