#F1 Testing: 2nd Bahrain Day 2: Perez shines two days in a row

Brought to you by TheJudge13 contributors Vortex Motio and Mattpt55

Nunc Lento Sonitu Dicunt, Morieris

…therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

John Donne- Meditation XVII

Bahrain 2nd Test - Day 2 - Perez VJM07 2And thus is Renault kicked to the kerb, properly in the eyes of many as having gotten it completely wrong in the V8 era and being given permission to play catch up, they naturally expected the same treatment in the V6 era, which they pushed hardest for. And that relief is now officially denied them, for the moment.Of course, larger questions loom, such as who will keep watching once Red Bull go up in a ball of flames or Lotus are forced to circulate at 75% pace in order to hopefully make the finish. And it is amidst all the spectacle and trauma that FOTA has given it’s last breath, ensuring a total lack of cooperation amongst constructors in these most challenging of times and confirming the opinion of many that F1 has truly stopped being a sport and become merely an entertainment and a business.

"A big improvement everywhere over yesterday and a much more optimistic outlook now I think..."

A big improvement everywhere over yesterday and a much more optimistic outlook now I think…

Despite the grim news from officialdom, Red Bull were having none of it and ran Ricciardo for a good 66 laps today, and into the 1:35’s, by far the fastest any Renault has gone in testing thus far. In the morning they decided to go with the flow and take advantage of the need to box every few laps for some much needed pit stop practice, so rest assured RB fans there is at least one race they will be in the running for come Melbourne, fastest pit stop. Further, by the afternoon they were running longer stints which must have been very encouraging given the battering they have taken thus far.

Red Bull’s junior partner, too, had a thoroughly unremarkable day, completing 61 laps and being almost invisible to the live feeds, which can be nothing but encouraging for the mileage starved drivers trying to come to grips with the new regulations.

As if to further emphasise the good news, Mercedes encountered some issues today,whilst still managing too complete 89 laps, including a full race distance. First, in the morning they inexplicably decided to have Lewis test the new floor by driving it into the gravel traps. Apparently they wanted an even more realistic simulation. Then, in the early afternoon, Lewis managed to break the gearbox for good and that put a early end to his day. It’s not all sad news as the Mercedes is above 3800 km, so if those were original parts they have far outlasted the requirements the season will impose on them.

Nico Rosberg, meanwhile, having been stung by Hamilton’s quote from yesterday, decided to show off his work ethic by skulking about the Red Bull pits for a bit of reconnaissance on his day off. Unfortunately though he is a far better driver than spy and was almost immediately spotted by AMuS who put up entertaining photos of the event.

Unfortunate too were Lotus, when Pastor Maldonado decided early on in the day to turn his car into a mobile churrascaria by catching the exhaust on fire. Rumour about the paddock that Lotus switched the exhaust out because the old one was better seasoned is entirely untrue, they both taste about the same. It was another dismal day in the lap count for Lotus with just 31 trips round the circuit.

Bahrain 2nd Test - Day 2 - EricssonNot to be outdone in the flambé department, Caterham, too decided to catch fire under the watchful eye of Ericsson, though being less prepared than the Venezuelan the best he could manage on short notice was a brief fondue. Still, though they were much better off than Lotus on total laps, managing 55, they are ominously off the pace and the 107% rule must look like rather like Everest at the moment to them.

Also having a bit of a dodgy morning were McLaren,who were knocked out of the running early on with drive issues, managing to eke out 52 laps once all was said and done with. Still, the paddock has them on even odds to be the pick behind the Mercedes, and though no doubt it will make Macca fans nervous, they are still in a strong position for Melbourne.

Marussia, on the other hand have made a strong comeback from the travails of last week, racking up 75 laps for Bianchi and causing Caterham employees to start hitting their address books again looking for new jobs come the end of the season, as Marussia’s fastest time today was nearly 4.5 seconds clear of the Caterham.

Marussia, was not the only Ferrari powered outfit having a good day, Sauber knocked off 106 laps today in thoroughly unremarkable fashion. Ferrari themselves topped the charts at 122 laps for Alonso, though Force India did manage to eke out fast lap. Conspiracists mourning the departure of Webber can rejoice, however, as thus far it “seems” as if Alonso has had all the luck (or is it on purpose?).

With the resurgence of Ferrari and the sudden weakness of Mercedes and McLaren, it fell to Force India and Williams to defend the honour of the Mercedes PU and they both did so with gusto, FI stealing fast lap for a second day and Williams again running a trouble free 103 laps and edging ever closer to the times of FI.

Massa, too, seems to have a new spring in his step and should Williams manage to avoid the inevitable problems of being collected by crashes in the midfield at the start, they may well be able to run the score up early on and insure against being out developed late in the season by teams with greater resources.

The one thing today shows is that nothing is certain come Melbourne, and that until they light the fires in anger the landscape will remain uncertain, particularly at the top.

Final results:

POS DRIVER TEAM BEST TIME BEST / TOTAL LAPS
1 S Perez Sahara Force India 01:35.6 29 / 108
2 F Alonso Scuderia Ferrari 01:35.6 37 / 122
3 D Ricciardo Infiniti Red Bull 01:35.7 39 / 66
4 F Massa Williams 01:36.5  95 / 103
5 J Button McLaren Mercedes 01:36.9 5 / 52
6 J Bianchi Marussia 01:38.1 72 / 75
7 L Hamilton Mercedes AMG Petronas 01:39.0 57 / 89
8 J E Vergne Toro Rosso 01:39.6 55 / 61
9 E Gutierrez Sauber F1 Team 01:40.0 46 / 106
10 P Maldonado Lotus 01:41.6 26 / 31
11 M Ericsson Caterham F1 Team 01:42.5 3 / 55

Testing Analysis Bahrain Day 2

I don’t think you can judge a car’s potential from how many laps it does in testing.” Kimi Raikkonen, after testing on Thursday, February 27th

It’s a natural temptation for a Formula 1 spectator to want to know who went fastest during a testing session. In previous analyses of these winter tests, I’ve focused on the number of laps per day as a stronger indicator of a team’s likely performance during the first races. The reason is simple… all the teams listed endurance and reliability as a primary objective. (Plus my colleague provides fastest lap of the day info in these same analyses!)

Today, I’ll focus again on laps run. Then we’ll examine a little bit in depth two different teams, they’re stated objectives for these tests, and what they’ve accomplished.

First, some numbers!!

Here are the lap totals for today, by team:

Constructor P/U Laps Driver

% of max

1 Ferrari Ferrari 122 Alonso 100%
2 Force India Mercedes 108 Perez 89%
3 Sauber Ferrari 106 Gutierrez 87%
4 Williams Mercedes 103 Massa 84%
5 Mercedes Mercedes 89 Hamilton 73%
6 Marussia Ferrari 75 Bianchi 61%
7 Red Bull Renault 66 Ricciardo 54%
8 Toro Rosso Renault 61 Vergne 50%
9 Caterham Renault 55 Ericsson 45%
10 McLaren Mercedes 52 Button 43%
11 Lotus Renault 31 Maldonado 25%

It’s interesting to see Ferrari at the top of this list. And the Ferrari powered Sauber is 3rd in this list.

The bottom of the list is just as interesting… Lotus had a bad day at 31 laps, and McLaren at 52 laps, but compared to prior test days, it’s a positive sign overall that no team turned fewer than 31 laps. Excepting Lotus, all teams turned 52 or more laps, which is a positive sign regarding overall reliability compared to prior test days.

If we combine laps run for these first two days of Bahrain 2, we see some positive developments compared to Bahrain 1 and Jerez:

Constructor

P/U BAH2 laps

% vs most

Williams Mercedes 231 100%
Force India Mercedes 213 92%
Sauber Ferrari 195 84%
Mercedes Mercedes 178 77%
Ferrari Ferrari 176 76%
McLaren Mercedes 161 70%
Marussia Ferrari 119 52%
Toro Rosso Renault 117 51%
Red Bull Renault 105 45%
Caterham Renault 74 32%
Lotus Renault 62 27%

Two things to highlight here…

First, there is a natural separation line between the top 6 teams and the bottom 5 teams. The top six teams, starting with McLaren and going up, have 161 laps or more after two days.

The median number of laps per team per day amongst these top 6 teams is 93 laps per day.

The median number of laps per team per day amongst the bottom 5 teams is 53 laps per day.

If we look back at our summary of Bahrain 1, the bottom group, (excluding Marussia) had a median of 29 laps per day. So there is a significant improvement in overall reliability at the bottom end of this list.

Another new pattern to emerge this week is that the Ferrari power units appear to be more reliable than last week. (I’ll look at Ferrari in depth below.) Unfortunately, Renault powered teams make up 4 of the 5 bottom teams, as measured by test laps. We have two more days, but this helps us to better see the challenges of the teams using Renault Sport F1’s power units.

Test laps run is an easy way to measure the reliability of a car. But we as spectators want to know more about how these teams are likely to perform during the first few races. Today I’m spotlighting two teams, Ferrari and Williams. I’ll examine their declared objectives for these tests, and what we know of their results.

Scuderia FerrariScuderia Ferrari

James Allison is Ferrari’s new Technical Director as of September 1st of 2013.  After the first Bahrain winter tests last week, he said that Ferrari had focused on car reliability and was reasonably satisfied. But he noted “the smallest thing (will) leave you stranded”. For Bahrain 2, they’ve organized “…every last detail to be ready for the first race.

In Bahrain 1, Ferrari accomplished:

  • work on balancing temperatures of cooling fluids
  • Expanded operating window of ERS
  • Some work on handling of chassis and tires

Ferrari’s goals for Bahrain 2 are:

  • Continue work of Bahrain 1, (controlling temps, ERS, chassis & tire set-ups)
  • Operate car ever closely to way it will run in race
  • Test and fine tune all components
  • Particular attention paid to the power unit

The daily plans will be:

  1. Each morning, test runs to check all systems
  2. Then continue set-up work and component testing
  3. Afternoon, some long run tests, to monitor all systems and tire performance

Yesterday, after testing, Ferrari said:

  • A problem caused loss of the morning
  • Afternoon did aero tests
  • Afternoon performed short run set-up tests

The priorities can be seen yesterday. When a failure prevented some running in the morning, Ferrari performed the set-up work (aero testing, and set-up work), instead of long runs.

Today’s stated goals were car set-up work, plus tire evaluations in the morning. Then aero component testing in the afternoon. Long runs IF things go well for component testing. Note their emphasis upon testing various things (set-ups, tires, aero components) before doing their long runs.

The emphasis on testing various components, and set-ups may be a direct reflection of James Allison’s relatively brief tenure. James Allison started working with Ferrari on September 1st. At that time, the F14T was a two year old project. His goal then was to not change the F14T project, but instead to understand it, particularly the underlying philosophy of the design, and then to help Ferrari have the tools needed to maximize the performance of the F14T.

In his mid December interview (released by Ferrari) he noted that the aerodynamic tools of Ferrari had been in recent seasons the 4th or 5th best on the F1 grid. Ferrari’s newly rebuilt wind tunnel and software tools are now the best in F1.

He noted the new higher importance of the engine in performance. But he emphasised that F1 will remain an aerodynamic formula, balanced with engine performance.

So his goal is maximize the development of the F14T during the season.

If we look at the most radical car design on the 2014 grid, it would easily be the twin husked Lotus. Who guided the design of that car? James Allison did, before he left Lotus.

It was Lotus under Allison that ran their exhausts out the sides of their side pods a few seasons ago…

Point is that Ferrari’s focus on testing the performance of various set-ups, aerodynamic components, etc. over reliability reflects that Allison will want to be able to creatively, and aggressively use the new tools at Ferrari this coming season. This detailed level of testing reflects that.

Williams_F1T_H_CMYKWilliams F1

Pat Symonds started as Technical Director for Williams on August 19th of 2013. Similarly to James Allison at Ferrari, Pat Symonds found the 2014 FW36 project was already fairly mature at 18 months old.

In the evening of the 2nd day of the Jerez, he had a very interesting interview conducted by Craig Scarborough, for Motorsport Monday magazine.

After a couple of brief preliminary question, the first question was surprising, as was Pat Symonds’ answer. In Jerez, on the 2nd day, there was a palpable buzz over the cars, the new power units, the new regulations. But Craig asked Pat if they’ve solved the performance issues in the 2013 car, and Pat responded essentially, no, not yet.

First, Pat dismissed the failed coanda exhaust system as an obvious and easy fix. The he said:

…We identified a number of areas where the car was deficient, we haven’t fixed them all… subtle problems… are still being worked on… As we go through this season we will nail them one by one. Then we will be able to put a lot more performance on the car.

Like James Allison, Pat Symonds sees 2014 as still very much an aerodynamics game. He said, “We want to be where we were last year (on downforce) with the blown effect taken away… We aren’t there yet, but we’ll get there.

At Bahrain 1, during an interview with Sky, Pat Symonds shared Williams view of these winter tests:

You come to these pre-season tests and the first thing you do is get the reliability, because you’ve got to find out what it is that’s going to bite you. And only when you’ve got that can you really start working on performance.

…it’s not until the last test that you see the cars in their final performance configuration.

Yesterday’s goals here at Bahrain 2 were:

  • Aero evaluations
  • Race simulation
  • Set-up work

At the end of the day, Williams completed all those goals.

Today’s declared goals were, in general, the same: Aero evals, set-up work, and a race simulation. They completed those goals again.

So how different is Williams in regards to their testing versus Ferrari (as an example)? There are many similarities, and the differences are subtle.

One difference is that James Allison’s history indicates that he may be fairly aggressive and creative in guiding the development of Ferrari’s cars.

Williams (both Claire Williams and Pat Symonds) have been very pragmatic during these winter tests as far as the possibility of winning races this season. While their stated goal is to win races and championships, they’ve been around long enough to know it is very difficult to stand on the top step in this series, and to rise to that level of performance takes time.

In Jerez, Claire indicated that the team started implementing a plan early last spring to return Williams back to their winning ways. Pat Symonds is but one part of that plan. When we look at the performance of Williams during these winter tests, it’s obvious that Williams will be a team to watch in 2014. What is not obvious is that this is part of a new top-level down plan that started back at the end of last March.

The second difference is that Scuderia Ferrari are spending some of their time and focus on developing their motor.

For tomorrow, I’m inclined to evaluate Red Bull. I’m open to suggestions.

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17 responses to “#F1 Testing: 2nd Bahrain Day 2: Perez shines two days in a row

  1. Nice write up boys! I’m relishing the prospect of Marussia snapping at the heels of some bigger teams and if poor reliability early on in the season allows them to take a point or two I’ll be over the moon.

    Now can anyone remind me which day last week TJ13 posted a video of the sounds of the 2014 cars.? Someone commented that the screech of the tyres could be heard and I made a mental note to watch it some place quiet (was on a train at the time!). Now I’ve looked three times and must be going senile because I really can’t find the post containing said video. Clues appreciated.

  2. Ps… How many years before Bianchi makes it into a works Ferrari seat, because with his pace it’s surely his destiny and a dream story for the Tifosi.

      • If (and when) Alonso is forced out, it’s between Vettel, Hulk and Bianchi surely. Ferrari are sitting very pretty right now!

        • I think this is a very important year for Hulk. He’ll want to categorically dominate Perez to enhance his chances with a top team. But I think Perez is a pretty quick driver. I think it’s one of the more interesting driver line-ups on the grid this year.

  3. Yes, I know, should be race distance not face distance. Blame auto correct and having to type the whole thing on an iPad in less than 45 minutes. Much harder to proof on that thing, LOL. Face distance still funny, though.

  4. What complicates our understanding somewhat is that teams *want* to encounter major car-stopping problems now so they can fix them before they cause a DNF in an actual race. So when I see teams churning out vast numbers of laps without apparent issue I do have to wonder either they have no significant remaining problems (surely not?) or else have been lucky/unlucky enough for them to still stay lurking and undetected. I was having that worry about McLaren last week, and to an extent Williams this week.

    Of course the best place to be is to be doing/have done lots of mileage and encountering/fixing a fair number of problems, which I think is where both Mercedes and McLaren now seem to be. And the worst place is to have done very little mileage and still have had lots of problems! Mentioning no names…

    • Hmmm…. Running more km increases the chances of finding an unlikely problem. We should probably do a problems per km calculation to help quantify where everyone is at the moment, though it would likely be more or less what you’d expect from the narrative this far. 🙂

    • Indeed.
      As Donne put it:
      “Affliction is a treasure, and scarce any man hath enough of it…”

      • Had I more time, that would have made it as well as “no man is an island” apropos the demise of FOTA. Nice catch, Nigel. 🙂

        • Thanks – & likewise for the excellent write ups.

          I notice Merc changed engines this morning, and confirmed they’d been running the same one from the start of testing.

    • He’s a pretty smart kid to be fair. Sometimes he’s too clever for his own good, but generally wise beyond his years IMHO. Just don’t believe the PR public image, he’s a dick IRL.

  5. Hey guys… you are really doing a great job here – not only the information but also the ‘tone’ in which it is imparted.

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