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Button sets pace as Jerez test springs to life

NEWS STORY
29/01/2014

Following Tuesday's farce, when the assembled teams managed only 93 laps between them, F1 put on a slightly better show on day two of pre-season testing.

In the wake of overnight rain, and with the threat of more to follow, Pirelli, with the agreement of the teams, decided to shift Friday's planned wet test to today, necessitating the use of water tankers to artificially soak the track. Consequently much of the morning was spent using the intermediates and full wet tyres however, by lunchtime, the track had dried completely, thereby allowing teams to begin longer runs as they explored power unit behaviour.

While some teams continue to experience problems, mainly those running Renault power units who completed just 19 laps between them, today saw a lot more action, with Nico Rosberg alone completing more laps than were achieved in total yesterday.

One of the teams that encountered problems yesterday was McLaren, the Woking outfit's 2014 contender not turning a wheel due to "electrical issues". Today however, Jenson Button, his helmet sporting a 'Papa Smurf' tribute to his late father, completed 43 laps on the way to posting the best time of the day.

"For our first day of actual running, we were able to get a good understanding of the car, and the way the engine and turbo behaves," said Button. "It's tricky, and very different to what we're used to, but I could feel that these cars will be enjoyable to drive.

"Of course, it's still early days," he continued, "and there's a lot of work ahead of us. We need to work on both braking and traction; but that excites me, because there's a lot of potential to adjust those parameters. The new braking system is very complicated, and getting it right will be tough. But these are all things we can work on: there's nothing about the car that unsettles me, and there's plenty of scope to explore the set-up. It will just take time.

"Our main aim this winter was to field a reliable car that would give us a good baseline. These cars will develop so much over the next few months, so it's essential to have a solid base to build upon; and I think we have that good base."

In a change to the Woking outfit's schedule, Button will extend his running into tomorrow morning, passing over to Kevin Magnussen later in the day.

Yesterday's pace-setter, Kimi Raikkonen, was second quickest, 0.647s down on the McLaren but giving the Maranello outfit further cause for some early optimism. The Italian team was soon able to assess the intermediate tyres, thus making the most of the time remaining and the progressively drying track to begin work on the car in preparation for the afternoon programme.

By close of play, Raikkonen had completed 47 laps, as he continued the task of checking the car's functionality as well as trying a few set-up changes.

"Every time we go out on track we learn something new," he said. "This week the times don't matter and the only thing that does is to do a good number of laps without any problems and fortunately, we have managed that on both days. The team is working hard and at the next test in Bahrain, we will continue to improve."

For the second successive day Valtteri Bottas finished third, the Finn putting another 35 laps on the FW36 as the Grove outfit focussed on component, systems and reliability checks.

"Testing this week is about checking all the new systems more than outright performance so problems are expected," said the Finn, who topped the timesheets at one stage, "but we've been solving each one as it has come up. We completed some running in the wet this morning to gather some data on the intermediate tyres and then clocked up some more laps in the dry this afternoon and my first impression of the car is positive.

"Unfortunately we had to finish the day slightly early," he continued. "I felt something different with the rear of the car so the team called me straight back in to check it over. We are much wiser than we were yesterday and have a better understanding of the car already and so I'm looking forward to the next time I can get behind the wheel."

"We started the day doing some work on the new Pirelli intermediate tyres as it wasn't wet enough for the full wet tyres," said Rod Nelson, the Grove outfit's Chief Test & Support Engineer. "We were then doing some development work on our braking system and making some changes over lunch and we were going well on the hard tyres this afternoon as the track dried out. However, we had to stop early due a problem with the rear suspension. Valtteri radioed in to say he felt something strange with the rear and we could also see something in the data, so we brought him in as a precautionary measure to check the car over. Obviously we'd like to do more laps but we are happy with the progress we are making."

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Jumpy Bob, 29/01/2014 23:41

"Is it my steep learning curve?
I do not understand all these issues that all the Teams are having during the first test session. For the amount of intelligent engineers and developers that these Teams have, if it was my Team, I would feel a little ripped off.
Sorry Boss... The front wing fell off... What...
Or, sorry Boss... we have been working on the software for our car for 6 months, and now, it does not work... Really?
With all these problems, I think everyone will be watching the first race, just to see how many cars finish the race.
I hope it`s sunny. Water and electronics are not a good fit."

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