Brought to you by TJ13 Courtroom Reporter: Adam Macdonald
Naturally, much of the media are drawing on the negatives of the Renault powertrain issues as they trundle around the desert. However, there will be a select few who can draw significant positives from this. The failings of Renault could present an opportunity few would have predicted in Brazil 3 months ago.
Keep on smiling
The Aussie for Aussie replacement seems to have been accepted by many as a fair election for the new race seat. Having proven himself against a fairly inept teammate for the past two seasons, Daniel Ricciardo is being thrown into the shark infested water that is Red Bull Racing. The Vettel/Marko dream team will be a hard one to survive alongside, as was proven by Mark Webber for 5 arduous years.
Before I’m accused of being a Webber sympathiser or of Vettel hating, it should be known I am a Vettel fan. However, even I cannot deny the difficulties of infiltrating the Milton Keynes setup to make it his own home. A year of sub-standard engines will give him a chance to bed-in at the quadruple World Champions while the man from Heppenheim grows more frustrated with every failure.
Even if the engine is fixed by May/June time, Ricciardo will have had a significant period to make a mould for himself within the team. He may not get a realistic shot at the 2014 WDC title, but in truth this is not such a bad thing for him. Especially, if the rumours are to be believed, and Vettel is off to Ferrari in the not too distant future. He would then find himself in the enviable position of being the lead Red Bull driver as well as not having been humiliated the year before by his 4-time World Champion teammate.
Vettel’s expectations of the team could be his biggest stumbling block as we have already seen the cracks appearing in his media facade. Helmut Marko has also alluded to the fact the German has “expectations.” Ricciardo’s positivity could be a very useful thing as the driver pairing wait for powertrain updates.
The “no.2” driver tag may not be such an issue this year at Red Bull.
Return of the Banzai
A favourite of many, Kamui Kobayashi returns to the grid in 2014 alongside a GP2 graduate who has bundles of money. Nobody has expressed great expectations of Marcus Ericcson, expecting the more experienced Japanese driver to beat him hands down. Although, one has to wonder where this expectation comes from?
A driver who has been out for more than a season is always going to be off the pace. An unrelaible start to the season will be the perfect remedy for hiding the cobwebs that may be there. Some will argue that Kobayashi’s Ferrari outings last year will come to his aid, but displays like this below are more likely to haunt him than help him.
Ericcson has every chance of surprising us getting the jump on Kamui, so a faulty Renault engine could prove a god-send for him.
Try, try and try again
Another driver who is being paired with an F1 rookie is Jean-Eric Vergne. The Frenchman was less than spectacular over the past 2 seasons and will have been worried by the impressive display Daniil Kvyat put in at Austin in FP1. Posting a time only 0.202 seconds slower than Daniel Ricciardo in his first outing in the STR8 shocked many.
A poor motor could mask the shortcomings of JEV and save his blushes in the face of a charging Russian. Perhaps I am being too presumptive with Kvyat and his abilities, but to my mind, JEV is fortunate to still have a seat in F1 after not showing anything remarkable so far.
Furthermore, the team in Faenza will be cautiously optimistic. The prospect of beating the Senior team is rare, so must be something that is relished and taken advantage of.
Perhaps Renault will spring a surprise on us all and develop their powertrain at an incredible rate, however, this looks doubtful; until then the judgement stands. So what do you think TJ13 viewers…fair assessment or am I speaking too soon?