Formula One’s new regulations are continue to prove somewhat difficult.
After the first test, I was more than confident that Red Bull Racing would catch up, That Renault would be somewhere near competitive and that reliability wouldn’t deplete the grid down to the possibility of only single figures finishing in Australia would be averted. I was wrong and with the Homologation for the engines now frozen, it’s looking like more pain for certain teams on the grid.
The first car out to set the timed laps was a Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo, which for a short while showed a bit of optimism with Ricciardo taking the Red Bull through lap times higher than that of what he set in Bahrain test one and for the first couple of hours, it seemed that Red Bull had perhaps improved somewhat. Mercedes where focusing on endurance potential over speed whilst Ferrari suffered some small issues which forced Raikkonen to complete limited mileage.
At the other end of the grid Kobayashi deemed that a GP2 car would be more competitive than his unreliable Caterham whilst Caterham’s competitor Marussia dealt with a Computer Virus bizarrely damaging the teams running for Day one.
By the closing hours of the day, Red Bull and Lotus returned to the pits with reliability issues, closing for the remainder of the day. Lotus with issues related to the Exhaust whilst the overheating that had plagued Red Bull throughout testing had returned. The early optimism of the morning, all but evaporated. Mercedes finishing earlier with Rosberg too, Showing that the Mercedes cars aren’t completely bulletproof.
Force India and Perez topped the timesheets by the end of the day, completing 102 laps.
Woes continue for Mercedes, with Hamilton pulling the Mercedes off track early in the day, Button’s Mclaren having some technical problems also. The Mercedes still remains the strongest powertrain package however with Perez completing the most mileage in the open hours in the Force India Mercedes. A tough start to the day for Lotus saw the team complete just two laps and the problems got worse as Maldonado’s car had a brief fire.
Hamilton’s Mercedes faced a gearbox problem, ending running for Mercedes GP early for the day whilst Caterham’s fire was the second of the day. An improved day overall for Red Bull with Ricciardo completing 66 laps and a dramatically improved day for marussia with the team completing 75 laps meanwhile Perez and Force India continued to top the time sheets for a second consecutive day.
It’s a positive day, If you’re Williams and a nightmare if you’re Red Bull.
Williams and Massa set the fastest times of all whilst competing 99 laps meanwhile Red Bull fail to complete any full laps with Vettel driving the Red Bull. Mercedes and Ferrari have average days clocking up the mileage and appearing two and three on the timesheets respectively. Mercedes mileage a little down after an engine change prevented some running time.
Lotus had a difficult day with issues related to the car’s electronics whilst Sauber struggled almost as badly as Red Bull, the car’s engine going bang early in the day’s running.
What might day four bring and final thoughts
Day four is unlikely to bring a miraculous change to the order.
Red Bull clearly has some severe problems leading up to Australia and very limited time in order to change them now. None of the engine manufacturers have had an ideal time in the final test so far with all showing reliability issues with one customer or the other. That said Mercedes HPP does seem to continue to have the advantage over Ferrari on paper at least.
The teams will struggle with Australia almost certainly. However it’s at least better news if you’re a Williams, Ferrari, Mercedes, Mclaren and perhaps Force India fan as these teams seem to be the strongest of the teams so far whilst Red Bull, Lotus, Caterham , Sauber and Toro Rosso seem to be overall struggling with Marussia difficult to tell at this stage.
I still hope we will have double figures finishing in Australia but it’s going to be an incredibly tough challenge for a large percentage of the grid to manage and a nigh impossible one on current performance for the big guns of Red Bull Racing and Lotus.
Time will tell.