Around about lunchtime today, Red Bull gave up on their new RB10. 48 hours after Sebastian Vettel quit the test and 24 hours behind Adrian Newey and Christian Horner, Red Bull packed up the troublesome new F1 hybrid and headed back home to Milton Keynes having achieved fewer laps and less speed in four days than Marussia and their brand new Ferrari-engined car managed in two. We’re not sure quite how firm Daniel Ricciardo’s grip on the UK vernacular is, but he seems he really did mean what he said yesterday: “Adrian’s gone back to the drawing board…”
Nothing it seemed could be done trackside at Jerez to stop the RB10 from overheating, and even hacking out chunks of the sidepods overnight (which must have made Adrian Newey wince) failed to get Ricciardo (above) going – he added just seven more laps to his tally today before the team threw the towel in. That meant 21 for the team in total this week when added to Vettel’s 11 on Tuesday and Wednesday. Marussia managed 30. Rather more pressingly Mercedes managed three-hundred-and-nine laps and this afternoon Nico Rosberg completed a race simulation and, had there not been a series of red flags for accidents, so too would Lewis Hamilton. Mercedes are ready to race, Red Bull can’t even get the car to run.
Those double points in the last round? The ones meant to save us from the monotony of another Vettel championship? Assuming the RB10 isn’t fundamentally flawed and can and will be fixed, then they might prove to have quite the reverse effect than what Bernie intended.
To be fair to Red Bull, it would appear the problem is as much Renault’s as their own. None of the three Renault-engined teams in Jerez this week (‘Red Bull Juniors’ Toro Rosso and Caterham, Lotus having — uniquely as it transpired — failed to make it at all) got any decent running. Total laps for the new Renault V6 turbo hybrid this week were just 151 (over half of them in the back of Caterham’s disastrous-but-suspiciously-well-cooled-looking CT-05). Mercedes-powered teams (Lewis and Nico’s works car plus the McLaren, Williams and Force India) logged 875 — over two and half thousand miles. A Merc is the engine to have it would appear.
Felipe Massa’s Williams was fastest today in conditions less favourable than yesterday’s so Kevin Magnussen’s 1.23.276 stays as the week’s fastest for McLaren. Having a big backwards off today while going for a race run was about the only blot the rookie Dane has made all week. Knowing Our Kev as we already feel we do through his adorably enthusiastic twitterings (@KevinMagnussen), we hope that was because he was going for all two-second’s worth of ERS energy all at once.
Massa’s Thursday time remained good enough for second for the week ahead of Hamilton and Button. That’s the four fastest times of the week, all with Merc’s new V6. Fifth up for the week was Kimi Raikkonen who managed to get his Ferrari F14-T more wound up in something like 100 fewer laps, which is interesting in what must have been a significantly less well developed car, not that you can read too much into anything at this stage.
What you can read in to these first four days of testing (of only 12 in total don’t forget) is that in pure development terms the Mercedes teams have an advantage over Ferrari, although Alonso was another driver thwarted while trying to run a race simulation this afternoon. The Renault teams meanwhile are nowhere and Red Bull, champion of everything, specifically is way behind. Basic development matters here; the engineers still have a lot to learn about getting these cars to the end of a race, the drivers a lot to learn about getting them there fast. So often questioned, Sebastian Vettel is going to need to prove that metal if he is to win again this year.