Lewis Hamilton fired up Formula 1’s new turbo era on Tuesday with the first lap of pre-season testing in his new, and reassuringly sleek looking, Mercedes W05 at Jerez de la Frontera in southern Spain.
With a thin new moon still visible over the Jerez circuit, the 2008 World Champion eased the F1 W05 out of the pitlane shortly after 09:00 local (08:00 GMT) for an installation lap before silence resumed.
Two hours and 23 minutes later Hamilton posted the first timed lap of the 2014, setting a time of 1:33.305 which might be meaningless in the bigger scheme of things – but it was the first lap of the new season and of the all new turbo era.
Formula 1 has ditched the ear-splitting 2.4 litre V8 engines for a new turbocharged 1.6 litre V6 with complex energy recovery systems and more emphasis on fuel economy.
Mercedes, who carried out a private 40 km shakedown at Silverstone with Germany’s Nico Rosberg on Friday, presented the car in the pitlane shortly after dawn with champions Red Bull taking the wraps off their RB10 challenger minutes later.
“It looks just fantastic,” Hamilton, in his second season with the team and now with the chosen number 44 on his car, said in a statement before getting behind the wheel. “So aggressive but full of really nice details as well.
“I’m excited to find out how the new Power Unit feels to drive, to hear how it sounds from the cockpit and to compare the job we have done relative to the competition.
“I think this is probably the season with the most unknowns that I have faced in my career and that’s just so exciting for all of us.”
While some of the new cars have been startling in appearance, with eye-catching protruding ‘noses’ to meet new regulations dictated by safety considerations, the top two teams from 2013 came up with more elegant solutions.
“The new car is an elegant but aggressive design and, as is often the way, it’s beauty is much more than skin deep,” commented Mercedes technical executive director Paddy Lowe.
“The internal engineering of the car is extremely innovative and intelligent.”
Ten of the 11 teams – all but Lotus – are in Jerez for the test but tail-enders Marussia and Caterham both encountered early problems.
Marussia’s car will miss that start of practice but is expected to make a belated arrival in Jerez after what Team Principal John Booth described as a “small but frustrating teething problem”.
“Very pleased to report that the #MR03 is now on its way to #Jerez. Well done Team for resolving the issue. Our garage awaits you!” the team Tweeted on Tuesday.
Malaysian-owned Caterham had been due to present their car on Tuesday morning but delayed that at the last minute due, according to their Twitter feed, to “some last minute issues [in] bolting it together”.
“The trials and tribulations of a completely new car have conspired against us today.” (Reuters)
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