Sebastian Vettel cancelled his media engagements, packed up and flew home early after problems continued to plague the World Champion team’s brand new Red Bull RB10 during the first two days of Formula 1 pre-season testing at Jerez.
After only completing three timed laps on the opening day, and just eight on the second day, Vettel’s title defence has started in the worst way possible.
Although it is not clear what has been afflicting the Adrian Newey penned RB10, it has emerged that on the first day an assembly mistake curtailed their running severely, while on day two the problem appears related to an electrical issue which was described as a “Renault energy store problem.”
Red Bull crew were photographed peering at a steaming back end of the RB10, in their pit garage, after the engine reportedly caught fire, whereupon the team decided to call time on Vettel’s stint in the cockpit.
Renault is having a troubled start to its season, lagging way behind their rivals – Mercedes and Ferrari – in terms of mileage covered thus far with the teams they service. By 14:00 Jerez time, on day two, Mercedes powered cars had completed 123 laps, the Ferrari brigade 56 laps and Renault’s teams a mere 13 laps in total.
Renault’s engine operations boss Rob White admitted after the first day in Spain, “I honestly expected there to be more laps on the board right now, but without real up close knowledge of what has been going on in the garage I don’t know what has been happening.”
“It is kind of a no brainer, but the pace has to ramp up substantially over the coming days and week,” added White.
Red Bull’s design guru Adrian Newey mused after the first problem packed day, “Road cars, hybrid road cars, aeroplanes, by the time we see them in public they’ve had a huge amount of running and private testing – obviously in Formula 1 we don’t have that luxury and we have to come out and get these complicated machines to work in the public arena.”
Vettel will probably only get to drive the RB10 again in a month’s time when the teams gather in Bahrain for the second preseason testing sessions.
He said before leaving for the airport, “Obviously we’ve not had a lot of running and have a few problems to sort out, but with such big rule changes it is usual to have some teething problems. That’s what tests are for, to sort those issues out. The next two days will be important to get some track time to prepare for the tests in Bahrain.”
Thus reigning World Champion Vettel departs southern Spain with the knowledge that last year he racked up 198 laps around Jerez, compared to a mere 11 laps this time around… (GP247)