Jerez Day 4: Massa Fastest, Mercedes Teams Impress, Renault Brigade In Big Trouble – Who Would Have Thought…
It was cold and wet at Jerez on the final day of Formula 1 testing, with little respite except towards the end when a dry-ish line emerged and as a result times tumbled, with Felipe Massa ending fastest of all in the Williams. Massa ended just short of a second up on former teammate Fernando Alonso in the Ferrari. Massa’s best time of 1:28.229 on the penultimate lap of his final run of the day, with the track at the driest it had been all day.
Thus for four days in a row a Mercedes powered car topped in southern Spain, with Ferrari the best of the rest. The Renault powered brigade were in dire straits, so much so that world champions Red Bull packed up early once again. Massa, who departed Ferrari for Williams, will be buoyed by his debut as will the team. The Brazilian racking up 133 laps during the course of his two days in the cockpit of the FW36
Alonso and Ferrari will also be satisfied with the work done as they notched up a a very handy 115 laps on the day, and 173 during his two days in the cockpit of the F14T.
Daniel Juncadella was on duty for Force India, in place of regular drivers Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg, the Spaniard racking up 81 laps and setting the third best time of the day.
Next on the timing screens was Kevin Magnussen who ended the day with 110 laps on his board, and impressing with his diligence and the way he has eased himself into the role of Formula 1 driver.
Mercedes split the driving duties between their two drivers, with Nico Rosberg doing the morning stint where he accumulated 91 laps before handing over to teammate Lewis Hamilton who added another 41 laps – thus the W05 did 132 laps, more than any other car on the day. Hamilton and Rosberg finished the day fifth and eighth respectively.
Up next were the two Ferrari customer teams with Jules Bianchi only managing 25 laps in the Marussia MR03 on his way to setting the sixth best time. Adrian Sutil ended the day seventh fastest in the Sauber C33 with 69 laps on his board but alarmingly for the Swiss outfit he struggled with grip and his best time was over eight seconds shy of Massa’s top time.
At the very bottom of the timing sheets were the three Renault powered teams, of which Caterham with Kamui Kobayashi on duty, were the better of the trio although they were a massive 15 seconds off the pace. Nevertheless the Japanese driver, making his return to F1 after a one year lay-off, managed to do 54 laps during the course of the day.
Both Red Bull backed teams were suffering with Daniil Kvyat only managing nine laps, and also way off the pace, while Daniel Ricciardo could only manage seven tours of the former grand prix venue and 17 seconds off the pace.
The teams gather for the second stanza of 2014 testing in Bahrain starting on 19 February, running for four days until 22 February. The first grand prix of the season takes place on 16 March in Melbourne, Australia.
Ok are you ready for this one? “Fernando, Massa is faster than you?” I could not resist that one. Ha ha. Seriously, what a fantastic result not just for Felipe Massa, but more importantly the team from Grove that has been having quite a bad time of it the last few years. I recently wrote a post titled Williams On The Verge Of Something New? I reminisced about what mighty champions Williams once were and wondered how they could have fallen so far from grace. I speculated that a reversal of fortune might be just around the corner. New regulations, new engine, new personnel, new driver. I think it is too early to make that prediction just yet, but things look good so far.
Mercedes AMG and the Mercedes turbo just keep impressing us. Paddy Lowe says “It feels like we have hit the ground running.” It most certainly looks that way. Issues with reliability? What? Who? Where? When? If you are Mercedes so far none of these apply. I voted the W05 F1 car “best looking” for the 2014 season and so far one would have to vote them the clear front runner in another all important category: Reliability.
Ferrari and Alonso: It was not until a couple of hours into the session that Alonso even put in a timed lap but when he did it was good for fourth best. By launch time the Spaniard and the F14-T were on the top of the time sheets. By the early afternoon car and driver were back down in third behind Daniel Juncadella and the rookie Kevin Magnussen and by day’s end moved up to second behind Massa which was how they finished although the gap changed right up till the end of the session. The Ferrari put in a respectable 115 laps and one has to say so far Maranello has done a good job thus far.
For Red Bull, Torro Rosso and Caterham the word disaster comes to mind in what can only be called a very difficult and painful season opening test. It is too early to really say what the exact issues are however there have been some rumors up and down the pit lane. Lets wait and see what is actually reported by the journos on the ground before we go and make some incorrect statement about what is actually to blame and by that I also mean whom as well.
The next test is in just over two weeks and while that might seem like sufficient time to resolve the issues that the Renault supplied teams are experiencing, in the case of the most sophisticated and complex racing machinery on the planet my guess is these teams and especially Red Bull would rather have twice or three times that amount. Results below: