After a forgettable first Formula 1 pre-season test last month in Jerez, the start of the second test in Bahrain did not begin as Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel would have planned, missing most of the morning session. The RB 10 was again plagued with overheating gremlins.
Proceedings at Sakhir got underway half an hour late, as marshals were stuck in traffic getting to the venue, and when they did get going it was the Renault powered Lotus of Romain Grosjean which took to the track first, with Fernando Alonso in the Ferrari, Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, the McLaren of Kevin Magnussen, Adrian Sutil in the Sauber and Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg getting out early in the day.
Ominously, half of the Renault powered brigade: Red Bull and Toro Rosso – were toiling behind closed doors in their respective garages.
Perhaps a glimmer of hope for them lay in the fact that fellow Renault teams, Lotus and Caterham were managing to do laps, albeit over five seconds down on Kevin Magnussen’s best in the McLaren, which at midday, local time, was 1.39.224.
Almost two hours into the session Red Bull wrote on Twitter: “Good morning from a sunny Bahrain. Working hard in the garage at the moment but we’ll be out on track soon.”
Vettel was suited and ready to drive, and was seen walking through the paddock and hanging out at the team’s hospitality building behind the pit garage complex.
The engine on the RB10 could be heard firing up on occasions, but not for long at a time, as work continued in the World Champion team’s garage.
BBC’s Jenny Gow reported, “I hear from a good source that the problem stopping Toro Rosso running is an oil leak. Red Bull are saying nothing official as yet about what is delaying their testing.”
“I spotted Team Principal Christian Horner, Helmut Marko and Renault Engineering Chief Remi Taffin in a summit meeting in the hospitality unit before heading back to the garage. Clearly, all is not well,” added Gow.
Two and half hours into the session Red Bull reported again on Twitter: “Slight delay folks, the team’s still fitting some parts. We’ve fired up and are hoping to be on track shortly. More updates to follow.”
At 13:50 pm local time Vettel finally made it on track, over three and a half hours behind schedule. After an installation lap his first flying lap was 1.45.095 and within a couple of hours the World Champion was down to 1.40.224 which was substantially faster than the other Renault powered cars.
A mid-afternoon stoppage, which saw Vettel jump out the car and grab a fire extinguisher, was a sign that the overheating problems persist.
Although still a few seconds down on their pace setting rivals, it must be noted this was in effect the first time the RB10 was running in anger. (GP247)
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