Brought to you by TheJudge13 contributors Vortex Motio and Mattp55
Although he’s fast on the track, off track is another matter for Jenson Button. He as finally pulled the trigger though and is officially engaged to his long time boo, Jessica Michibata. Congrats Jense, and good luck decorating that nursery when the time comes!
“It’s like déjà vu all over again”- Yogi Berra
Back to testing… Yesterday Lotus’ team boss Gerard Lopez said, “I can only hope we don’t end up with three championships based on Mercedes and Ferrari and Renault.”
Caterham’s Kamui Kobayashi also sounded a little despondent saying that they, “…see the Mercedes cars are much quicker in the straights, 20-30km/h more… We have too aggressive power delivery, which is very difficult to handle under acceleration out of the corner… Slow corners are very difficult because we don’t know how much grip we can get.”
We know that the Mercedes team in particular has focused on reliability first, then performance. What are the trends we are seeing so far at Bahrain after three days of testing?
In a move calculated to casually say “ Oh, by the way we can go fast, too” Mercedes delivered their first real ‘go-at-it’ fast lap snapped up the fastest lap for the week so far. It appears that instead of “dangling their balls in the pool”, Vettel’s rivals were actually dangling them underneath the design table for 2014 cars and instead of being lazy, they were just pointing their efforts in a different direction unbeknownst to Red Bull.
The latter were engaged in a development war, primarily with themselves, for the latter half of 2013 and if you listen carefully, you can still hear the sound of Ross Brawn chuckling quietly to himself in the paddock.
Although Mercedes did look fast today, it wasn’t all wine and roses as a hydraulic issue once again interrupted a race simulation for Hamilton, and limited him to just 67 laps today. This ray of sunshine for their rivals was quickly extinguished as Lewis also mentioned in an interview that he felt the car suited his driving style and that he didn’t feel there was as much grip as last year.
Upon hearing this Nico Rosberg quietly wept into his cup of tea, his biggest advantage over Hamilton from last year has apparently evaporated with the advent of brake by wire (BBW).
Not to be outdone completely, and riding high on the success of his proposal, Button took the honours of going second fastest, albeit slower by almost .75 of a second. Never the less, the McLaren looks good and it appears the team from Woking has found their mojo again, the one they lost so badly last year,
Williams continued their impressive form taking third fastest lap today but continued to bang out the laps, more than anyone else – 115. They even rolled out their official pit stop crew to get down and dirty all afternoon practicing pit stops.
Red Bull had more problems. A “new” mechanical problem hit the team today, once again severely limiting their running and this is not helping Christian Horner and his team sleep any better tonight. For the Red Bull conspiracy theory fans; at this rate there will be no need to actively sabotage Ricciardo as he will have barely had enough laps in the car to keep it in between the white lines let alone mount a serious challenge to the current World Champion.
For those who may be wondering why Sauber are languishing behind a bit, given that they have Ferrari engines, the answer may very well lie in their BBW. Reports from Autosport indicate that the C33 may be braking as much as 8o metres sooner than the Mercedes and Force India at the end of the Sakhir back straight and that they are struggling to get on top of the issue with frequent lock ups heading into corners.
Speaking of Ferrari engines, Marussia, who may very well eclipse Red Bull for the title of most miserable running of the week, today announced an “anomaly” with their Ferrari engine (it was pouring forth an impressive plume of smoke) which had them swapping it out and giving their drivers yet another day to wander about and take silly pictures.
Ferrari themselves ran into trouble with telemetry, leading to a major re-set and limiting Raikkonen to less than a race distance, but otherwise a solid day of work. Pat Fry said they knew that sooner or later they would have to deal with “some problems and that was what happened“. He continued saying these things happen with a new car; some things that seem difficult turn out to be easy and others that appear simple get more complicated.
The FIA also have some issues to address. The explanation for the lengthy red flags about which we would all be complaining if we had access to a livestream have been down to only teams being allowed to touch the cars that stop on track due to ES (energy storage) concerns. The cars are supposed to carry a lighting system that indicates when it is safe to touch the car, but this being a test, either the systems are not operational or the FIA is being more concerned than usual about marshal safety.
The ES is supposed to switch off automatically after 2 seconds according to the regulations, but as with the Ferrari turbo shield we have to hope the FIA have done their homework properly. The image of watching medical personnel inadvertently electrocute themselves trying to extract drivers from cars is one they will no doubt wish to avoid.
Day 3 in numbers:
Let’s start with today’s lap quantities.
Note that four teams ran 96 or more laps. Sauber’s Ferrari power unit had a good workout, as did Caterham’s Renault unit.
If we look at the teams doing the fewest laps, it’s disconcerting to see Marussia, because they’ve run very few laps at this test so far. But also note which other two teams ran 28 or fewer laps… The reigning World Champions Red Bull, plus the ‘clever’ Lotus.
If we look at their pace fastest lap we see a similar pattern.
*pit stop practice
The top four fastest cars are the same cars that racked up the most laps today. The four slowest teams feature Red Bull and Lotus. Note, however the pace of the Renault teams… The fastest Renault today was the Toro Rosso. They did their fastest time on a set of new soft tires, but their time was 105% of the Mercedes, also on new soft tires.
As we all know so well, comparing times across teams during a proper team test, in general, is not meaningful due to the many unknown variables, such as fuel loads, engine maps, unknown vehicle weights, unknown driver and team goals at that particular lap, etc.. But if we step back, we do see a pattern that has emerged over the three days so far.
Here we see the fastest Renault powered team on each of the three days, and compare how far off they were from the fastest time turned on that same day:
|Test Day||Constructor||Engine Manufacturer||Fast lap||Driver||Time diff||Time %|
We have the Renault car’s fastest lap, its driver, and the differences to the overall fast time of the day.
Of course, given the reliability problems, we can safely say the Renault powered teams aren’t able to run hard. But Kobayashi’s comments indicate that this may be a good indicator of how far behind the Renault powered teams are in performance. If we look at Caterham’s lap totals (85% of the highest total), we know the Renault can be run reliably. So this indicator points to the performance deficit. Sleepless nights in Viry-Chatillon is an easy assumption…
Here are the reliability figures for Bahrain broken down by team.
|Pos||Constructor||Engine Manufacturer||Total BAH Laps||% vs most||diff of most|
…and by engine manufacturer:
|Manufacturer||Total Laps||%||Avg laps /team /day|
The percentage of laps accounts for Ferrari powering 3 teams versus the 4 teams powered by Mercedes and Renault.
Tomorrow is the last days and perhaps we will see some of the more reliable teams turn up the power and put in a couple of blistering laps… we can hope.