Test Trials

To get a feel of how things went during the four-day test at the Jerez racetrack, we bring to you a selection of reactions from those involved in the action, including Vettel and Roseberg

The forthcoming Formula One season promises to be an interesting one. With wholesale changes in engine and design specifications, the first four-day test at the Jerez racetrack in Spain evoked a range of responses and reactions from drivers and team principals and owners, most of them not very complimentary.

For one, the FIA, which runs the sport, mandated last year that the front of every car would necessarily have to be lower — and narrower —for safety reasons. This enforced change has led to hilarious results in car design — with the nose section of the various machines drawing derisive and humorous comparisons to the animal kingdom — including the term “gentlemen’s appendages” in some extreme cases.

Then, the reduction of the engine size from 2.4 litres to a 1,6 litre turbo-charged powertrain, and the attendant restrictions on fuel use — a maximum of 100 litres for the race — has led to major alterations in the chassis design and weight distribution. To ensure cars can complete the stipulated 300-odd kilometres the average Formula One race extends to, and given the strict new fuel restrictions, teams have come with what is being called the ERS (energy recovery systems) as against the KERS (kinetic energy recovery systems) that existed till last year.

For this, a larger battery back is needed so that the power recovered from braking and other systems can feed back into powering the card through electrical energy and while it has boosted the pickup and acceleration in most cases, it has also brought along the threat or danger of fire from overheating batteries.

In any case, the 2014 F1 season — which gets under way in Australia on March 16 — looks to be the most open for a very long time as no team was able to really put the hammer down in Jerez. To get a feel of how things went over the last four days in Spain, here is a selection of reactions from those involved in the action.

Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull), four-time world champion: Obviously we’ve not had a lot of running and a few problems to sort out. With such big rule changes it is usual to have teething problems, but that’s what the tests are for, to sort them out. The next two days will be important to get some track time to prepare for the tests in Bahrain.

Adrian Newey (Red Bull design chief): I think it is a shame if regulations create ugly solutions, as we have seen in some of the cars that have been released. It is not a strictly technical matter as we have to design a car that we feel gives the best performance regardless of the styling. But I think the shape and sound of the cars is all part of the drama of F1. And it is a shame if the cars are unattractive.

Christian Horner (Red Bull team principal): It’s been a very difficult test. We have had numerous Renault (engine) issues as well as chassis-cooling issues, which have affected our progress. However, what we have managed to learn shows that the problems should be solvable for the next test in Bahrain. Part of the purpose of this test was to learn about any issues ahead of the start of the season and there will be a lot of focus on the dyno over the next few weeks.

Fernando Alonso (Ferrari): It’s very early days, way to early to think about this. In the preparation and approach for Australia, we are completely blind in terms of comparative performance. We’ve got to learn so many things before Australia, just on our side of the running, that I cannot imagine what will be the picture of the grid in Melbourne. Even more than in any other year, we’ll only find out in Australia.

Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes): (after crashing on the very first day of testing) It’s unfortunate to end the day early when everyone has worked so hard. But we’ll make that track time back and it’s better to have these things happen now than in Melbourne. The car feels quite good, especially considering it’s so early in our programme. Overall it’s been a positive day.

Nico Rosberg (Mercedes): Driving-wise, it’s pretty similar (to last year’s car). It’s a bit of a pity because the cars are slower, I would always prefer to go faster so that’s not quite as nice. But other than the big difference is the engine, the low rpm and the gears you use. And then it’s how much you need to use your brain to understand the new technology, the fuel-saving, the Ers, that’s going to be quite complicated.

Nico Hulkenberg (Force India): It’s difficult to give a lot of feedback after my first day in the car because most of my time was spent doing mapping and data collection with some constant speed runs. So I’ve yet to really get a feel for the car. My first impressions are that the new era of Formula One feels very different to the car I drove in Brazil last year. It’s a very different sensation, but you have to remember this is very early days and there is a lot more to come. Things will evolve quickly over the next few weeks because the car is very much a work in progress and we still have lots to learn.

Marcus Ericsson (Caterham): (on the design of their new car) People either love it or hate it. The reaction to the car has been huge, but to me it’s not really important what it looks like, as what counts is how quick it is.

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