First test of 2014 Formula 1 season more important than ever before

Jerez will host the season opening F1 test days

Jerez will host the season opening F1 test days

The decision by Lotus to skip the first pre-season Formula 1 test in Spain at the end of January will put them at a disadvantage to other teams, new Sauber signing Adrian Sutil has said. He is not alone in believing that the first test of the 2014 season is more important than ever.

The 30-year-old driver told Reuters in a telephone interview from Switzerland that, with a new engine and major technical changes for 2014, teams needed all the track time that they could get.

“I think real testing at the moment is what we need (and not simulator work) because you can’t simulate everything,” he said of his own Swiss team’s position. “In the end you need to go on the circuit and see how it goes.

“This is a very important test and we don’t have much so I think it’s clear that it will be a disadvantage for Lotus,” added the German, speaking ahead of an appearance at the Autosport International show in Birmingham, England, at the weekend.

Adrian Sutil during his seat fitting at Sauber

Adrian Sutil during his seat fitting at Sauber

“But who knows why they decided it? I would say it is definitely not good.”

Lotus, who finished fourth overall last season, said on Monday that they would miss the test starting at Jerez on 28 Jan because the timing “isn’t ideal for our build and development programme.”

The team, which had financial problems last year and has yet to formally announce a renewal of its Renault engine deal, posted a teasing picture on Twitter on Wednesday of new car parts with the E22 chassis designation.

Their decision means that Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado, who has moved to Lotus from Williams, will have to wait until the second test in Bahrain in February for his first taste of the car he will race in Australia in March.

Lotus F1 factory at Enstone (File Photo)

Lotus F1 factory at Enstone (File Photo)

Formula 1 has switched from a 2.4 litre V8 engine to an all-new 1.6 litre turbocharged V6 with energy recovery systems and many in the sport fear Jerez could be plagued by reliability problems and regular red flags if cars break down on the track.

However, the circuit has the advantage of being within relatively easy reach of the teams’ factories, for spare parts if things go wrong, unlike Bahrain.

McLaren‘s Jenson Button suggested recently, with heavy irony, that Jerez could prove ‘hilarious’.

Sutil, whose Ferrari-powered team do not have their own simulator but has the possibility of using others, said that the uncertainty was in itself a reason to be excited but he doubted it would be “that bad”.

Adrian Sutil will drive for Sauber in 2014

Adrian Sutil will drive for Sauber in 2014

“Maybe we have no problems at all and everyone will do laps and laps. who knows? But normally with a new engine you suffer a few problems,” he said.

“But I don’t think it will be a disaster, because I believe everyone knows how to build an engine and it’s not that we are not professionals. Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault are all big manufacturers and should know how to deal with this situation.”

As well as getting to grips with a new car, Sutil is also adjusting to a new team for the first time in his F1 career after six years at Force India and their predecessors Spyker.

The German, who lives in Switzerland conveniently close to Sauber’s Hinwil factory, said he had been talking to the team since early 2012 about joining them and felt they were the “perfect fit”.

The quiet before the storm for F1 mechanics

The quiet before the storm for F1 mechanics

“It was quite challenging and exhausting to travel so much to England and back, and to India,” he said of his time at Silverstone-based Force India. “It’s better surroundings here, I think, for myself.”

Sauber finished seventh last year, 20 points behind sixth-placed Force India, and struggled financially in what looked like a fight for survival.

Sutil, who brings financial backing with him, feeels that he has joined a team that could put him on the podium for the first time and is “eager for a new challenge”.

“The history of this team is just different…so there is something there,” he said, recalling the time when BMW-Sauber won the 2008 Canadian Grand Prix.

“It was time for a change…for me it looks [to be] definitely another step up.

“I think it’s all in there, they have the knowledge of how to do it. I think it’s just about having the financial package all together which is quite difficult for all small teams at the moment,” he added. “If that financial part comes better and better, I think this team will make a big step.”

The German will have Mexican Esteban Gutierrez, the highest-scoring rookie of last season but still learning the ropes, as his team mate but he sidestepped a question about whether he felt like the team leader.

“I feel like Adrian Sutil, to be honest,” he said. “We will see who is leading the team and we work together here.” (Reuters)

Subbed by AJN.

  • SteveIsGreat

    Obviously “Lotus” think this test isn’t needed, lol. Let’s wait and see how that works for them. Lolololol.

    I can hardly wait to see these new drooping-penis-nosed f1 cars with their puny hybrid engines, with low rev limits, endurance racing gearboxes, weak fuel flow limits, and artificially amplifed turbo noise. Can’t hardly wait to see who else besides RBR have the differentials and torque maps sorted. I think J.B. will be proved correct with his “hilarious” comment.

  • captain tortuga

    Lotus.. i like the colours so much, and it looked to be going the righ way with Kimi.. but now it is over. kaput. I’m guessing the 40-oddmillion that Crashtor is wheeling in is just enough to keep the team afloat until the end of the season..

    Sutil does have a point imo, when he says that Sauber is a team where if the finances are good or stronger the result will be according. Of course it goes without saying this goes for all teams on the grid, but i think he migt be right that Sauber might have an edge there.
    Unfortunately i think this year will be the same 3 frontrunners,(Fer/RB/MB) then McL and then im thinking that TorroRosso has a very god shot at climbing the ranks a bit, because of the Renault engine they will run next year, and i seeing them as regular point contenders. after TR i think Lotus might come in as 6th.. i think, if they don’t announce a major sponsordeal until the summer, the lack of funds will show rapidly..

  • Hugo

    Lotus must be real worried now that an expert like Sutil has spoken.

  • Zombie Jebus

    Sutil has only echo’d every major player in the paddock’s opinion from Brawn down to Abiteboul… so far the only team daring to speak otherwise is “LoLtus”.

    I agree with Tortuga though… Toro Rosso could be much better this year, simply due to it’s ties with RBR and now using so many of the same components. But I’ll stay hopeful Williams is the real shocker!