Formula 1 in 2014 was a different type of season, with the complete change of the rules regarding the engine, moving from the V8 to a turbocharged V6, was going to be a trying one for the teams. Last year Red Bull with the Renault power unit had the most difficulty, not even completing one full day of testing in Jerez. This year there is a newcomer, or rather a re-joiner, as McLaren-Honda is back together, after completely dominating the late 1980’s into the early 1990’s. McLaren gave up the most powerful power unit in 2014, to go with an unknown in 2015, but more on that later. All drivers are locked in to their respective teams, and two of the teams are no longer on the docket for 2015.
A Rough Go At Jerez For McLaren
Testing is pivotal in Formula 1. It is where you get crucial data from the car and how it handles the track and real world environmental issues. As I stated before, RBR was the team having issues last year, however, McLaren is having their share of issues, being that the new power unit from Honda hasn’t been used in an F1 car yet. Jerez is the perfect place to get started understanding what the car and the power unit do together. As you can see from the video below, Honda has made the V6 turbo sound a bit more throaty than the other power units.
However, as racing director Eric Boullier explains it’s hard to address the issues when they arise as the power unit is very compact, and in order to address something you may need to take the engine out of the car, or remove many parts to take care of the issues. This can put a damper on running out on track, with repairs taking most of the day.
Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso have gotten a total of 79 laps on the car. When you compare that to a team like Mercedes AMG, who has now put over 500 laps on their car, the difference in data obtained is staggering.
Two Teams Missing At Jerez
While we had a inkling that it would happen, it seems now that neither Marussia, or Caterham will be back on the grid for 2015. Caterham had a crowdfund going for the end of last year so that they could show up at Abu Dhabi for the final race. It wasn’t enough to come back for 2015. No one has bought in to the team and their 2014 equipment is being auctioned off.
On the other hand, Marussia F1 Team had been in trouble after Suzuka, where their driver Jules Bianchi was involved in a horrific accident. Not long after that, the team didn’t make it back to the grid and were put in administration. There were a few talks taking place over the off season and recently there was a meeting held with The Strategy Group – top teams in F1 – and Marussia (now Manor Racing) requested to use the 2014 model for racing this year. They rejected this offer and the decision will now head to the F1 Commission, but one can assume they will uphold this decision, blocking Manor Racing’s return.
Racing requires a good amount of cash and investors on board and a lot of the smaller teams in F1’s history have suffered this same fate. However, I don’t think blocking the return of a team that could have a longer history is a smart idea.
Sandbagging At Jerez
There is no question during testing, you don’t want all your cats out of the bag. It just gives the other teams an idea of where they should be running up to.
Mercedes was interested in mileage only, as their drivers plowed through the laps, but weren’t putting up top times, sometimes down in 4th or 5th place for the day. Ferrari however, seemed happy to put in some fast times with Kimi Raikkonnen running down to a 1:20 and change, which was almost a 3% faster time than last years testing in Jerez.
Sauber was also surprising, putting down some competitive times with their rookie driver, Felipe Nasr. Williams were strong as well, looking for data from their new chassis. Lotus, who moved from Renault, to Mercedes this year, also enjoying some strong runs after a few gremlins along the way.
Here are the unofficial test times from Jerez:
1. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1m 20.841s, 200 laps
2. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, 1m 20.984s, 149 laps
3. Felipe Nasr, Sauber, 1m 21.545s, 197 laps
4. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 1m 21.982s, 308 laps
5. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, 1m 22.019s, 185 laps
6. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1m 22.172s, 208 laps
7. Felipe Massa, Williams, 1m 22.276s, 144 laps
8. Valtteri Bottas, Williams, 1m 22.319s, 134 laps
9. Max Verstappen, Toro Rosso, 1m 22.553s, 170 laps
10. Pastor Maldonado, Lotus, 1m 22.713s, 137 laps
11. Carlos Sainz Jr, Toro Rosso, 1m 23.187s, 183 laps
12. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, 1m 23.338s, 84 laps
13. Romain Grosjean, Lotus, 1m 23.802s, 53 laps
14. Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull, 1m 23.975s, 82 laps
15. Jenson Button, McLaren, 1m 27.660s, 41 laps
16. Fernando Alonso, McLaren, 1m 35.553s, 38 laps
Though we have a reduced field again this year, it should make for exciting racing. Ferrari seems like they have produced something worth a damn, and Sauber looks like they could score some points with their engine (Ferrari). With the mileage Mercedes has from their team and the teams with their engines, they still seem to be the team to beat for 2015.