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Following twelve days of pre-season testing are we any clearer as to the position of the teams prior to the first race?  Well on the final day of testing there were three engine failures which brought the cars to a premature halt (McLaren, Force India and Lotus).  While hearing of a Renault failure isn’t that surprising given the troubles they have had this winter, having two Mercedes power units fail may give some hope to other non-Mercedes powered teams.  However it may be that these two teams were able to run some components past their expected life to see how long they would last.

The total distance completed by all the teams over the twelve days of testing is as follows:

Team Engine Jerez km Bahrain 1 km Bahrain 2 km total km
Mercedes Mercedes

1368.252

1704.78

1894.2

4967.232

Williams Mercedes

774.9

1748.076

2370.456

4893.432

Ferrari Ferrari

1111.428

1553.244

1823.844

4488.516

McLaren Mercedes

1084.86

1601.952

1466.652

4153.464

Sauber Ferrari

721.764

1298.88

2018.676

4039.32

Force India Mercedes

646.488

1152.756

2175.624

3974.868

Caterham Renault

336.528

1369.236

1607.364

3313.128

Toro Rosso Renault

239.112

752.268

1466.652

2458.032

Red Bull Renault

92.988

627.792

984.984

1705.764

Marussia Ferrari

132.84

156.948

1396.296

1686.084

Lotus Renault

0

600.732

687.324

1288.056

 

As discussed previously for 2014 each power unit will have to last for approximately 3000km, which means that only Caterham of the Renault teams have managed to run this far to even know what problems they will have once the mileage  gets this high.

When it comes to absolute performance then it is far harder to judge, as all teams are running different programmes through the tests, with all four slick compounds available and variations in the fuel load used.  Given the massive change in regulations it is reasonable to expect that at some point during the testing all the teams would have attempted a flat out run.  The following table is a list of the fastest laps from the eight days of testing at Bahrain completed by each of the drivers that ran there:

Day Driver Team Time gap percentage

7

Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes

1m33.258

 

100.00%

8

Lewis Hamilton Mercedes

1m33.278

0.020

100.02%

4

Nico Rosberg Mercedes

1m33.283

0.025

100.03%

8

Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes

1m33.987

0.729

100.78%

8

Fernando Alonso Ferrari

1m34.280

1.022

101.10%

2

Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes

1m34.910

1.652

101.77%

4

Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes

1m34.957

1.699

101.82%

5

Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes

1m35.290

2.032

102.18%

7

Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari

1m35.426

2.168

102.32%

8

Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes

1m35.577

2.319

102.49%

8

Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Renault

1m35.701

2.443

102.62%

6

Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault

1m35.743

2.485

102.66%

7

Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Renault

1m36.113

2.855

103.06%

8

Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari

1m36.467

3.209

103.44%

8

Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari

1m36.835

3.577

103.84%

7

Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari

1m37.087

3.829

104.11%

3

Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari

1m37.180

3.922

104.21%

8

Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault

1m37.468

4.210

104.51%

4

Felipe Nasr Williams-Mercedes

1m37.569

4.311

104.62%

7

Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault

1m38.083

4.825

105.17%

8

Kamui Kobayashi Caterham-Renault

1m38.391

5.133

105.50%

4

Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Renault

1m38.707

5.449

105.84%

8

Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault

1m39.302

6.044

106.48%

1

Robin Frijns Caterham-Renault

1m42.534

9.276

109.95%

 

While it is no real surprise to see the Mercedes powered teams at the top of the timesheets, Williams resurgence is encouraging as is a seemingly competitive car for Nico Hulkenberg.  At the other end of the field Marussia seem to have made real progress over their rivals Caterham, and may now be able to race some of the Renault powered teams in the early part of the season at least.  Also, having Lotus right at the back is a fall from grace even more spectacular than Williams’ rise.

The times from test drivers (Nasr and Frijns) are not really representative as they will have had far less time in the car than the race drivers, but they are included for completeness.   Similarly, the comparison between team mates is not necessarily indicative of their relative performance as it is highly likely that the teams were conducting different programmes for the two drivers and it is unlikely that they had the same tyres and fuel loads when setting their individual fastest times.

As noted yesterday it is encouraging that all teams  are able to get within 107% of the fastest time, so we should see a full grid qualify in two weeks.  Of far greater doubt is how many cars will finish, while the fuel flow measurement is far more accurate now than the end of the last turbo era (the last time the fuel capacity was limited by the regulations), so we shouldn’t see drivers running out of fuel at the end of the race.  The reliability of the new cars is in doubt, and this probably gives Marussia and Caterham their best chance to score points if other better funded teams are struggling with reliability.  Against this background, the slow speed and high mileage of the Caterham team begins to make some sort of sense.

Only eleven days until the cars leave the pitlane in Melbourne for free practice one, and we start to get some answers as to who has made the right design decisions for this set of regulations.  The wait is nearly over.

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A long time fan of Formula 1 and grass roots motorsport, I am interested in the engineering aspects not only of F1 but the 'men in sheds' who develop homemade specials to take on the products of the big racing car manufacturers.
  • Tim

    Hi It all looks far more unpredictable than usual.This is good for all those who like excitement.I am really pleased to see Williams apparently doing well although we will have to wait and see.I like this format

  • Michael in Seattle

    Hmm. You said, “While it is no real surprise to see the Mercedes powered teams at the top of the timesheets, Williams resurgence is encouraging as is a seemingly competitive car for Nico Hulkenberg. ” Did you mean to say Hulkenburg, or should that have been Massa? Or, are you visualizing for the future, perhaps? ;-)

    • MIE

      I did mean Nico Hulkenberg. For several seasons he has been in mid field teams and struggling to deliver the results his talent deserves. With the choice he had between Lotus and Force India at the end of last year, it looks like circumstances pushed him in the right direction.

      As you correctly point out, it is also pleasant to see Massa with a competitive car, and I will be interested to see what he can do without having to always play the number two driver.

  • Fred

    Looks like Caterham wins the Renault milage time. Too bad there is no trophy for that and even sadder their times are really slow. Another year of back marker status, I’m afraid.

    • jeff

      Yes, discouraging, they look nowhere. FIA’s speculative acceptance of a new team/teams looks pre-emptive for Fernandez/Caterham’s departure. If we can get Haas in, someone buying Caterham’s remains, and a 12th team, I’d be happy.

  • jeff

    Looks like the teams are in for some intense Failure Modes/Effect Analysis (FMEA) on the PU’s; good to see they’re testing the boundaries.

    Is Lotus going to complete the season, I wonder? They look in shambles, both in performance and organization.

  • UAN

    seems at this stage in the game that Pastor should have been attending some Dale Carnegie courses last year – he’d be at Williams in a competitive car. Lotus may come good, but without Boullier and the loss of other key personnel, will they be able to stay at the pointy end of the grid? Kimi may have stepped out at the right time, and Hulkenberg may have caught a great break ending up back at Force India.

    Seems that Mercedes and McLaren, in that order, will be the teams to beat earlier on. I wouldn’t be surprised to seem some podiums for FI or Williams in the early part of the season. Ferrari is tough to peg, but should be in the hunt. With the focus on the engines, we don’t know what the tire degradation may be like – it could be in the race some of the faster cars are hard on their tires.

    Red Bull will be struggling at the get go, but part of the story line of the season will be their ability to develop their car ala 2012 to come on strong mid to late season. Let’s not forget that Newey’s 1994 Williams, suffered immensely by rule changes, but they came back strong (if Senna hadn’t died, I believe he would have won the championship based on how well Damon Hill did). One thing Red Bull has shown is that they have been the one team over the last 5 years to consistently develop their car the entire season – something Mercedes, Ferrari and even McLaren haven’t been able to do.

    I hope that Marussia can slip in there for some points. A risky bet to take, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Caterham finish in the top 10 in one of the first few races if we get a high number of DNFs. They aren’t fast, but they have tooled around for quite a few laps and could benefit from a last car standing scenario.

    It’s going to be interesting too to see what kind of fuel consumption versus power that the different engines had. Heard from Ted Kravitz that the Ferrari may be more of gas guzzler than the Mercedes. Renault, iirc, has been very fuel friendly, which could pay dividends. They only have 100 kilos from lights out to checker flag.

    Can’t wait for the start of the season. It may end up being a bust overall, but the first half of the season (with 4 in season tests?) will be exciting to watch as things get sorted out.

  • Jiji the cat

    I had a look at the aggregate times for the Bahrain tests, and Williams are definitely in the mix. Hope to see them do well, the movements in personell and sponsorship have been positive. Let’s hope there performance is too.

  • Joseph Simmons

    In the immortal words of Ron Dennis, Mercedes has won the unofficial 2014 Winter testing championship with Williams in a close second! For a variety of reasons, the season really unfolds into two halves. First half being raw with surprising performances; i.e. Lotus for the past two seasons. The second half is the developmental race, who can bring the bits and updates on the car that work, which Red Bull has dominated over the past five years. Rumors have a two to four second speed gain in 2014! It’ll be fascinating to see Mercedes and Williams be the hare in the first few races until Spain race. This year Williams has the finance, key personnel coupled with a strong history to challenge Mercedes.
    But Red Bull should not duplicate Ferrari in 2005 with a subpar for Vettel! It hard to believe with the resources, talent, and experience, that Red Bull will not have a very competitive race winning car by Hungary race.
    Coming out of the Pacific rim four races, will Williams or Mercedes bank enough points to withstand a Red Bull second half blitz? Could championship really boil down to a double points finale?
    Melbourne 2014 can’t wait for the lights out!

  • jeff

    Is anyone else concerned about Ferrari? Both its qualifying sim and long-run pace looks poor; caveats about fuel-load and/or sandbagging aside, those are big deltas to Mercedes/FI. With the reports about heavy fuel consumption, poor traction, and Hybrid-to-engine integration-issue rumors, I’m wary of placing them in the top 5. For me, I’d put Red Bull ahead.

    Yup, even though Red Bull seems to stop every stint; they’ve had huge problems, but everyone save Williams have lost multiple hours every test. It’s true the Mercedes or Mclaren, for example, will solve theirs within a few hours and salvage half a taste, but as mentioned previously, it only takes a stoppage/to continue to end a race. The Red Bull by reports looks fast a drivable when running, and it’s problems seemingly more the niggles and shakedown type issues the other teams experienced 2 weeks ago. The MP4-18 it’s not, I fear.

    My prediction: Chaos in Melbourne and the group-1 fly aways, then Mercedes-FI-Williams-Mclaren-Ferrari-Red Bull, with Red Bull supplanting Ferrari and moving up by quarter-season. Nowhere for Torro Rosso/Caterham, and unfortunately Sauber as well.

  • UAN

    And in a weird twist of fate, Felipe Massa wins his first WDC :) Even better if Williams is wearing the livery of Martini Racing. THAT would be sexy cool. (unless they have someone else has a title sponsor)

  • F1_Knight

    So I had a look at those Mileage numbers and I crunched them:

    Mercedes has the highest mileage on their engines with ~18,000km between 4 teams

    Ferrari did 43% less Kms than Mercedes, with ~10,000km, with 25% less team support (3 vs. 4)

    Renault however, ran ~8,750km, 51% less than Mercedes managed with the same number of teams using their lump

    not good.

    Even if Renault can get the pace out of their engine to run with the others, Mercedes HAS to be more reliable, having run more than twice the testing Kms than Renault managed.

    Furthermore, the top 3 times? All Mercedes power. Top 10? 8 Mercedes engines and 2 Ferrari.

    What this all tells me, is that you doubters may finally see Vettel win when his car is not the fastest, proving as per your criteria, that he’s the real deal.

    Oh and Massa may achieve the greatest comeback since Lauda.

    This year is shaping up to be a legendary one.