The first two days of testing are over and although we can’t take any timed laps from this test so far as to creating a serious order of whose quick and who isn’t competitive. This is mostly due to these cars being still over two seconds off the pace of the rear of the grid from last year’s test in large part prompted by reliability factors related to the major technical rules shift Formula One has experienced over the winter.

The large talking points so far are Red Bull’s reliability in early pre-season testing and McLaren’s  “Mushroom” Suspension.

Ok so Red Bull, the reigning champions have had a nightmare of sorts the past few days. The first day of testing almost everyone had issues in starting the cars and no serious mileage was completed although this was generally anticipated. Red Bull in the closing stages completed a shakedown lap with Sebastian Vettel so lets put day one down to regulation changes teething problems.

Day two arrives, reliability is obviously still an on-going factor however a lot more mileage from the teams occurs compared to day one. By days end, the Mercedes driven by Nico Rosberg had completed 97 laps officially, considering the collective amount of laps completed on day one was 92 officially, the progress is an incredible feat.

Sadly for some the woes of day one continued and this was mostly apparent for the Renault teams including Red Bull Racing. Red Bull enters the track with Vettel on three separate occasions. Securing just 8 official laps throughout day-two of testing. The team elected to abort testing for Day two due to an issue related to Renault’s Energy store system. Toro Rosso faced similar difficulties on day-two whilst also running the same technology.

Rumours circulate of Red Bull additionally having cooling issues, Renault also went ahead saying that the energy source issues will be resolved overnight for day three of the first 2014 test.

Day three comes and Ricciardo makes his Red Bull Racing Debut. Taking over test-driving duties from teammate Vettel as scheduled. Unfortunately for Red Bull, it isn’t third time lucky. The team completed three laps before aborting the test day early. Some of the issues appear to be related to cooling and electrical issues.

The team aims to be back on track for tomorrow’s final day of this first test.  It’s not a good start to pre season testing for Renault or for Red Bull however I believe it is possible for them to resolve and avoid too much of a significant setback.  Despite the lack of running compared to some of the team’s rivals throughout this test, it is early in testing and given that one of Red Bull’s potential rivals, Lotus have elected not to enter this opening test and the mechanical gremlins most teams are still facing. It’s not the time to draw a conclusion on how Red Bull’s season could go just yet.

McLaren’s new MP4-29 2014 F1 entrant has the most interest from a technical perspective from this test, Ok car aesthetics aside. The concept behind the Woking team’s “mushroom suspension” is to replace the advantage that the banned rear beam wing used to possess by channelling the air velocity downwards underneath the car.

The system opens and closes the gap between the “mushroom’ blocks and the diffuser according to AUTOSPORT allowing for a small gap when at high speed reducing drag. Whilst at low speed, the gap will be closed, allowing for increased downforce which allows for an all round advantage throughout a lap.

The System’s legality has being questioned by other teams as to whether the part is structural to the suspension or a part of the bodywork.  However if the FIA declare the system to be ok, the potential gain of this concept could be the new regulations version of the double diffuser or the F duct concepts.


  • niyoko

    At least they are finding the gremlins now and not later. I’m more worried about how the Renault engine is failing and how it affects the other engine customers like Caterham. If Renault’s engine is unreliable all season, would Tony Fernades kill the team because they under preformed?

  • MIE

    Renault have stated that they don’t have one big problem, but several smaller issues. Some are related to the power unit’s installation and down to the individual teams. Others are Renault’s responsibility, being software issues (engine mapping, ERS recovery).
    I don’t know whether to be encouraged or worried by Renault’s statement. It does make me more concerned for Lotus though. Having another team helping to solve the Power Unit issues would help Renault, and it is likely that the team will have some installation problems of their own to resolve, as everyone else has had some.

    • Jack Flash (Aust)

      I would not be the least bit surprised if the issues Renault Motorsport F1 and the Renault powered teams are having, is related to EMC (electro-magnetic compatibility) issues in the relative packaging of units and cable routes; not just thermal/cooling issues.

      As Renault said themselves in recent explanations about the new technologies of the 2014 Power Unit systems, the amount of electrical current in both AC and DC forms shunting around to/from energy reserve (batteries) from MGU-K and MGU-H is very large. The electrical energy flow goes through high-frequency switching converters one would surmise, and the resulting EMC e-field issues threatening control electronics packages and ECU packages would not be easy to defend against. The intensified h-field interferences of the main power-bus cables currents would be REALLY hard to manage.

      It could be a case of teams unwisely cutting down on cable screening, and shielding enclosures, and other EMC control measures to strip down weight and space for the new Car Designs; in contrary to Renault specifications for their kit. This could allow appearance of all sorts of EMC headaches in the ERS Control and EMU electronics units. EMC issues are not easy to sort out. Experimentation with corrective ground bonding, shielding additions and selective screening/filtering is not easy to undertake. It takes very experience EMC engineers to root out and resolve interference issues in unintended electro-magnetic couplings.

      I expect the standard aluminium environmental enclosures for the EMU (McLaren Technologies) and the Renault ERS Control unit (Renault Motorsport) to be well designed for both conducted and radiated e-field interference, but h-field is a different matter entirely that is brought to bear by the high-current shunting of energy in such a powerful ERS system. This is a new line of EMC threat that is really hard to defend against without substantial weights of magnetically permeable shielding.

      It really is very hard to know what each Renault powered team is suffering. My comments are pure speculation, but not at all inconceivable in the circumstances. The problems the Renault powered teams are showing could be a combination of all these possibilities at once. Renault Motorsport part/integration issues, packaging thermal/cooling issues, and interfering EMC issues in the integrated designs.

      What I do know for sure is…. we’ll never know the truth as pundits.
      Formula 1 teams operate like the CIA (or MI6) when it comes to strategic or operational information. Jack Flash.

      • Tom Firth

        Renault’s issues seem much smaller today, Caterham has done far more mileage than in previous days of testing. Red Bull and Toro Rosso still seem to have some issues at current, however some of this could be related to the weather conditions at Jerez today as well as ongoing team issues. Both teams have set some timed laps today however which is positive.

  • Brian

    Maybe there is a silver lining for Red Bull, if McLaren’s rear end is really as beneficial as some analysts think and Red Bull’s packaging of the power unit is really the issue, then scrapping the current rear and starting from scratch may not be as costly a decision as it is for others.

    • Tom Firth

      It doesn’t seem any better today for them overall and apparently Adrian Newey has returned to base so perhaps it’s time for that re-design now. I still think that by the time we get to Australia Red Bull will be back up at the front, Although with a major redesign, Although lets be honest, most people will have quite important redesigns post testing.