The second pre-season test is over and as ever, we got some of our questions answered. The theme for 2014 seems to centre around teams getting their car working consistently more than anything, which of course means any lap times set mean nothing.
If you read into times, it’s uncomfortable viewing
Take all the times set over the course of the 4 days in Bahrain into account as a qualifying result, a grand total of 10 cars wouldn’t have made the 107% mandatory mark. The biggest casualties of them all? Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull.
If, and only if, most of the teams fail to get into that margin come Australia, the FIA will need to act appropriately. In the past some drivers have been granted the right to race after wet qualifying, or just being outside the cut-off, but if we end up with 4, 5, or even 6 drivers outside the limit that’s nearly one-quarter of the grid out of the race. Not exactly a show for fans, is it?
These 2014 cars look tricky to drive – and trickier to work on
Marussia had to change an engine on Max Chilton’s car after only four laps this test and it took them the entire day to do so, meaning that if you go into a weekend with any kind of powertrain gremlin in 2014, expect to spend a lot of time in the pits. And start from the back.
Is Lewis having a bad hair month?
We’re still not too sure about Lewis Hamilton’s haircut. Is it meant to make him look taller? Or more 1980s?
Lotus have finally arrived at the party
Lotus have declared themselves the strongest Renault customer for 2014. And in a way they sort of are – they managed 59 of the 144 laps the engine managed to last on day 4 – but you can’t help but think that’s a pointless claim at the moment. Like stating that nuts is the best allergy to have.
We really want to root for Lotus this season. They have to of the most enigmatic drivers on the grid in Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado, have gone down a different route with their “tusk” design and seem to operate well on a limited budget. If the stars align this season, it could work out nicely for them.
Mercedes lead the way, in more ways than one
Looking at how many miles each engine manufacturer managed in Bahrain and Mercedes are the clear winner. Renault managed more laps than Ferrari though – always a possibility seeing as they supply 4 teams compared to 3 – and that should ring some alarm bells in Maranello.
There’s a lot of talk about F1 being slow in 2014, and in a way people will be right. Despite the fact that Nico Rosberg’s fastest time in Bahrain was just under a second shy of his 2013 pole position time, when both Mercedes and McLaren ran their race simulations they were miles off the pace. How much slower? A whopping eight seconds off the times they were setting on lighter fuel loads. Ouch.
If you have any spare cash floating around you might just put it on Mercedes clearing up come November. They seem to have a car that is assured and responsive, and whilst it has had some teething problems, they pale in comparison to the likes of Red Bull.
Are Williams the real team to watch?
The real surprise seems to be Williams. They covered the most mileage in the desert and seemed so far ahead in their programme that not only did they spend a session executing 43 pit stops but also put new test driver Felipe Nasr in for a day. That’s confidence.
If you’re going to slap the “dark horse” tag on anyone this season, look out for the Martini Williams. Stranger things have happened.