The grey drizzle that engulfed Jerez circuit matched the mood in the Red Bull garage on Friday morning as the World Champion team endured another frustrating day plagued by the engine problem that turned their four days in Spain into a nightmare, but Daniel Ricciardo was his ever upbeat self.
Asked if the troubled RB10 will be running on the last day of the opening Formula 1 test of 2014, he answered: “I hope so.”
Actually, he did less than 10 laps before the reigning World Champions, caught deep in an early-season crisis along with engine supplier Renault, called it a day.
“All focus now shifts to Bahrain,” said the team. “We have two weeks until the next test so time’s on our side.”
That is an optimistic view, after a nightmarish four-day tally of just 21 laps. Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg did almost 100 before lunch on Friday alone, as the Brackley team got stuck into a race simulation.
Mercedes’ four-day tally is 270 laps and counting, with Lewis Hamilton set to complete the running in the largely reliable W05.
Red Bull, in total and utter contrast, are struggling to get Adrian Newey’s extreme packaging working at all with the higher cooling demands of the all-new turbo and ERS-powered Renault V6.
Team Principal Christian Horner said, “It’s been a very difficult test. We have had numerous Renault issues as well as chassis cooling issues, which have affected our progress. However, despite the lack of mileage, 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 early test was to learn about any issues ahead of the start of the season and there will now be a lot of focus on the dyno over the next few weeks,” added Horner.
Quite simply, the car cannot keep the crucial ‘Power Unit’ cool enough. Burn marks were visible on the side of the Red Bull on Friday, followed by some hasty work by the mechanics to cut holes in the bodywork.
Race Engineering Co-ordinator Andy Damerum explained the problemss, “We did seven laps and every time Daniel went out we made improvements to the control of the engine. We were also making fixes to the issues that have arisen from our side and we have made progress there.”
“We then discovered a mechanical issue with the car and after investigation it became clear that we would not be able to fix this in time to run in the afternoon, so the decision was taken to retire early, take the data that we have amassed and work towards the next test, in Bahrain.”
“Two weeks is a long time in F1 and we and I’m sure that Renault will work flat out now to solve the problems we’ve been having,” concluded Damerum.
Compounding Red Bull’s misery, other key rivals Ferrari and McLaren are also looking reliable, both teams racking up about 70 laps apiece by lunchtime. (GP247-GMM)
Subbed by AJN.