Button quickest as problems halt Renault teams

2014 F1 season

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McLaren have bounced back from a difficult first day’s testing, in which they were unable to take to the track at all, by recording the quickest time of all on the second day of pre-season running at Jerez

Jenson Button recorded a 1m 24.165 to top the time-sheets and complete a healthy day’s running of over 40 laps in the new McLaren MP4-29. Mercedes too had a very productive day, with Nico Rosberg’s amassing a total of 97 laps – more than a race distance – over the course of the session without any major mechanical issues or failures.

But there were problems for the Renault powered machines as reigning world champions Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull had another day of very limited running after suffering an apparent energy recovery issue, while Toro Rosso failed to make it onto the track at all.

After overnight rain had left the circuit slightly damp, the decision was taken by the teams and Pirelli before the day’s running began to soak the track artificially in order to provide the teams with the chance to run on both the wet and intermediate tyres.

As day two of the test officially got underway, Button was first on circuit for the MP4-29’s first laps of Jerez. There was far more early running than on the opening day of the test, with Kimi Raikkonen and Esteban Gutierrez circulating in the damp conditions on the wet weather Pirellis. Vettel ventured onto the circuit for some very short runs in the RB10, before returning to the garage where he remained for the rest of the day.

The first red flag stoppage of the day came around 11:45 local time when Gutierrez pulled off circuit with an apparent mechanical failure after completing the most laps of any car up to that point in the day. Once the Sauber was cleared, Button ventured out on slick tyres for the first time and immediately set a lap more than five seconds quicker than the previous fastest time. He and former team mate Sergio Perez traded quickest times over the early afternoon, while Marcus Ericsson made his first appearance of the day in the Caterham for an installation lap.

Raikkonen’s Ferrari and then Gutierrez’s Sauber both rejoined the session after lengthy periods in the pit lane, but while Mercedes and Ferrari engines were hard at work, there was very little activity from the Renault-powered cars. News that Red Bull had suffered an apparent energy recovery problem meant that Vettel’s day was done having amassed a total of just eight laps – bringing the RB10’s total over two days to just 11 laps of running.

Meanwhile, Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes was having no such problems and achieved a run of over 20 consecutive laps before a mechanical problem for Perez’s Force India brought the Mexican to a smoky stop at turn one and the red flags for the second time in the day.

When the session resumed, there was a flurry of activity with Raikkonen, Rosberg, Bottas and Gutierrez all posting personal bests before yet more problems for Renault-powered Caterham as Marcus Ericsson’s CT05 ground to a halt in sector two with just over an hour and a quarter remaining.

Once the green flags flew once more, Button went out and immediately posted what would turn out to be the fastest lap of the day – a 1m 24.165. Rosberg continued with multiple lap runs, becoming the only driver to complete a race distance over the course of the day and ultimately completing 97 laps by the chequered flag.

With Ferrari and Sauber also logging over 100 laps between them for Ferrari’s new V6 turbo, the lack of mileage by the Renault-engined cars is even more striking, while Mercedes will likely leave the circuit today as the team most satisfied with their day’s work.

Driver Car Best time Laps Difference
1 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes MP4-29 1’24.165 43
2 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari F14 T 1’24.812 47 0.647
3 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes FW36 1’25.344 35 1.179
4 Nico Rosberg Mercedes W05 1’25.588 97 1.423
5 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes VJM07 1’28.376 37 4.211
6 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari C33 1’33.270 53 9.105
7 Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault CT05 1’37.975 11 13.810
8 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault RB10 1’38.320 8 14.155

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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75 comments on “Button quickest as problems halt Renault teams”

  1. upside down dampers yeaaaaaaah ! :P

    1. He He . Who knows? maybe McLaren will surprise us all and Kevin will be leading the championship . Anything can happen !

      1. Incredible, the guy still hasn’t turned a wheel in F1 in the real world.

      2. btw, MP4-29 looks good aesthetically and its performance promising so far. Woking boys are in it to bounce back.

        1. I would also like to say how difficult this must be for Jenson. I wasn’t close to my father like JB, but when he passed on I was devastated for quite some time – feeling mainly that I should just give up and stop trying. I am told this is a normal response. But you know, it must seem so trivial to do this testing work after a such a monumental personal loss, so I will say that JB has surprised me in focussing like he has. A consummate professional.

        2. After the launch pics it is a relief to see the car actually looks pretty good out there.
          Is differentiating the helmets of JB and KB going to be an issue in 2014? They both seem to be in a similar colour range (red/blue/White). I know the cars will have bigger numbers this year but I am not convinced that will help determine which McLaren is which.
          Also, i agree with @baron below’s sentiments.

    2. It might be silly to compare times etc. with last year, but one thing we can compare is the sound. HOLY CRAP these things sound like total ****!

      My love for F1 has died just a little bit…

  2. Finally… something not going Red Bull’s way.

    1. You should remember that Renault’s energy recovery system has been the weakest link in the power train for a couple of seasons now (at least in the Red Bull installation). The (in)famous alternator is also a part of that system, so it is certainly not a good omen for Renault customers.

      1. Is that the reason for 4 titles in a row? :)

        1. They achieved it DESPITE the electrics. That’s how much car speed advantage they had, or a measure of how well SV drove. They had KERS failures quite often. This year, similar failures would destroy their season, as it accounts for a significantly higher power percentage of the total.

    2. Rbr are so confident that theyve decided not to test..haha.

  3. Kudos to Rosberg for such a patient drive racking up the miles . Whoa ! I guess tomorrow it’s Lewis’ turn . Hope he gets a better run that yesterday .

    1. *than (typo) . Isn’t there an edit option for comments in f1f ?

      1. Yeah: you write it, then read it twice before posting it!

    2. I agree with kudos to him, but driving an F1 car all day requires patience? Where do I sign?

  4. Let’s prepare for a load of complaining, sorry, cautioning from Red Bull about safety of the current engines.

  5. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
    29th January 2014, 18:12

    I think the most entertaining part of testing, other than seeing new designs on track, is how quickly people try to reach a judgement regarding performance, and I’ve already seen a comment or two saying something along the lines of “McLaren look quick”; which is made all the funnier by the lap Button did in the first day of testing last year in a car that would eventually fail to see the podium places. Don’t even blink an eye this evening during Sky’s testing round-up when Rachel “brainless” Brookes or Craig “simple” Slater says something along the lines of “Jenson, you had a great day because you were fastest, which obviously means you have the fastest car, can we expect you on the top step in Melbourne?”…

    And yet, the fact that Mercedes managed 97 laps without a single issue (or at least one not serious enough to warrant an on track stoppage), whilst the Renault powered cars continue to fail to make an appearance is becoming all too extreme a correlation to ignore. Yes, I know I’m breaking the golden rule of testing by making a statement like this, but right now, I think Mercedes have an edge over Renault in terms of engine reliability. Will that have a lasting effect on Red Bull’s season? Possibly…

    1. I think most people know not to put too much emphasis on testing, especially the first test, especially at the start of such a steep learning curve for the teams, yet some people do start to add up pieces to the puzzles. And at the same time I think if we go back to previous seasons, we in fact did see some trends, and some comments made by other drivers about other cars on the test tracks did prove to be the case once they raced in anger.

      Very early days for now, but one fact is undeniable…Mercedes, McLaren, and Ferrari have already got more experience with their packages and are already half a step ahead of RBR. That could turn around tomorrow, and it can certainly be said that by the first race RBR may easily have caught up or even surpassed the others in understanding their package, but for now…I’m sure BE couldn’t be happier…I’m sure his worse case scenario would have been to see RBR out there dominating straight out of the box, first test or not. The tone around here would certainly be far different.

      1. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
        29th January 2014, 18:43

        Trust me, some people, especially some that I called “simple” and “brainless” in my previous post, do tend to put a lot of emphasis on testing, almost as if it was a pre-season free practice session. OK, we have known in past years who is in trouble and who is looking good, but not necessarily because of the times but because of admittances from the teams themselves.

        I wouldn’t jump the gun and say that McLaren, Mercedes and Ferrari are a step ahead, but they are two days further down the installation process than Red Bull is, and, as you say, that can all change tomorrow. However, even suggesting that Red Bull has been caught in terms of performance really is premature, owing to the fact that Red Bull could quite easily be a second down the road. Mercedes are ahead in terms of reliability, but that is a) subject to change and b) superfluous if Red Bull have a massive lap time advantage.

        1. You call others brainless and simple for jumping to conclusions based on testing, yet you say McLaren is now ahead. Already forgwtting they did no running yesterday.

          Its quite possible that RBR run over 100 laps tomorrow while McLaren stays in the garage and suddenly its all reversed.

          While I agree that most people at Skysports are pretty clueless, we won’t know much until after the summer break at least.

          1. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
            29th January 2014, 20:51

            @kelsier – What? If you read my comment properly you’d notice that I didn’t say McLaren were ahead. I did say however that Mercedes were ahead with regards to reliability only, as I think has been thoroughly demonstrated. I accept that Red Bull may have a better day tomorrow, but Mercedes clearly have a fundamentally reliable base.

    2. Yeah it’s too early to determine the pecking order. I love the eagerness of F1 fans and pundits to try and do so, but we all know that it’s all in vain until at least free practice in Australia.

      McLaren does have some interesting developments; I saw on Autosport that they have a unique rear setup where they have aerodynamic bits which are attached to the suspension and/or suspension links: http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/112341 (you might need an Autosport+ subscription, but I’ll post the link just in case). Sounds interesting because this supposedly can get back a good chunk of the downforce lost with the removal of the rear beam wing.

      While I’m optimistic that they’ll have a better season than 2013, it’s silly to say they’ll be fastest at this point.

      I’d be surprised if Renault can’t overcome most of their engine issues by the time the season starts, otherwise teams are going to have a tough time of adhering to the 5 engines/season regulation.

      1. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
        29th January 2014, 19:43

        @steevkay – Yes, I have Autosport+, and yes, I’ve seen McLaren’s rear end. It’s interesting, but the rear end designs on the Mercedes, Red Bull and particularly Ferrari are so basic at the moment that it just looks like McLaren have brought a car closer to their Melbourne package than its rivals have. Still, the “suspension blocks” are interesting, innovative and as Anderson says, difficult to replicate. Certainly, I would imagine that McLaren will be closer to the pace this year, or ahead of Lotus at least, although you could factor in a Mercedes engined Force India or Williams as occasional threats to the top teams.

        I agree that ultimately this perceived issue with the Renault engines can be overcome relatively quickly, particularly in that they were probably the best engine suppliers at maximizing their packages in the V8 era. But at the very least, the Renault teams have lost two days of installation relative to their rivals, and that will unquestionably impact their testing programme.

        1. I love Autosport+ during these times. Anyways…

          It’ll be interesting to see how the McLaren “blocks” translate to performance and if this will be the head-scratcher for most teams, like the double diffuser in 2009.

          I’m also curious about Lotus; if most of the power unit issues are resolved by the second test session, would they have really lost that much ground compared to the other Renault teams?

          Ultimately, this is the little taste of F1 I wanted before the circus lands in Australia. I now have a lot more to look forward to!

          1. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
            29th January 2014, 21:33

            @steevkay – Autosport+ tends to be the only source of genuine sense in these times of speculation. This little taste of F1 in these out of season days makes fans and journalists alike go mad with unfounded rumours. And yet, there might be some in suggesting that the Mercedes W05 is the most reliable out there.

    3. @william-brierty – You are correct sir. With such limited testing time in a season it’s all about the data gathering right now. Renault powered teams are not gathering much data at the moment.

      Have already seen some time comparisons in various places around the internets. Silly! Comparing drivers, cars and even past track times right now is just silliness. Especially at the beginning tests with so many new regs, power units, etc., etc., etc…

      1. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
        29th January 2014, 21:21

        @bullmello – Looking at the times is so pointless when most of them are pootling around at 80%. However we can infer two things. Firstly, in its current guise, the Mercedes engine is substantially ahead of the Renault in terms of reliability, but that will change. Secondly, the Renault engined cars have lost two days of installation, and with brand new software to engineer, and literally thousands of lines of code to write and refine, that will unquestionably have an effect on their entire testing programme. Whether that will subsequently have an impact on the state in which the Renault engined car arrive in in Melbourne is impossible to say.

    4. @william-brierty it’s the decades old phrase: “it’s just testing”.

      the faces of the team members after each day are a lot more informative than the laptimes, and a lot less subjective too !

      1. Yup racing in anger is the only true test, but it sure is irresistable and inevitable that the ball has to start rolling at some point after waiting through the off-season for these first days, and the conversation has to start somewhere. So as silly as it is to make the conversation too serious yet, with so little real evidence to go by, we’re still gonna talk, and I’m just glad the talk isn’t “RBR looking like they’ve picked up where they left off last year.” For now. For at least these two days. If RBR were already looking like they’ve been unphased by the reg changes, I think the reality right or wrong would be more nail biting by more people, even in these early days…and maybe even a headline on this site starting with “Uh oh…”

      2. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
        29th January 2014, 21:07

        @fer-no65 – Agreed. Rosberg’s face was particularly informative. Button’s would be if it wasn’t still so clearly clouded by the grief he is obviously still suffering. Personally, I have been surprised by how deeply Jenson has been cut by the loss of John. He was obviously very close to Jenson.

    5. @william-brierty

      I agree with you on the fact about making baseless judgments. I observed in the F1F chat that many people were jumping to conclusions the minute they see their favorite (I assume favorite) driver(s)/team(s). That’s been the trend though anyway so have to deal with it. They truly are ‘fanatics’ :P

      Regarding the SkySports journos, they are some journos. Just watch this as an example:


      On the other topic, I am loving the Renault failures. Call me a sadist but I really want to see Seb being pulled and pushed!

      1. @neelv27 Regarding the SkySports journos, they are some journos. Just watch this as an example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fAeaz1MtjW8

        What’s wrong with that? He at least had the balls to ask Räikkönen if he still has the same motivation to pursue the WDC that he did before he won it the first time.

        Räikkönen is notorious for being an ill-disciplined, unprofessional, lazy driver who won’t do track walks and does not effectively use the simulator to aid his preparation. Questioning his motivation and focus is more than warranted, imo.

      2. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
        29th January 2014, 21:01

        @neelv27 – Great video! It perfectly illustrates what I was talking about! Regarding the Renault failures, I wouldn’t go so far as to say I am “loving it”, but I would be good to see Sebastian in an average car, at least so we get some kind of litmus test of his abilities.

        1. Guessing his stint in the TR was not enough for you!

          1. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
            30th January 2014, 8:16

            @rockie – It was, it’s just that Hulkenberg is being every bit as impressive in the mdifield now as Vettel was. There can be no doubting that Vettel is truly world class, as I now think Hulkenberg is, but I suppose I’d just like to see whether he can rise above an average car, like Alonso did in 2012, and motivate an ailing team to championship success.

        2. Define “average car”. If he wins WDC again would you again say it is the car and not the driver?

          1. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
            30th January 2014, 8:18

            A car that is the third or fourth quickest out there, and not six tenths down the road like the RB9 was. In 2012 he had an average(ish) car, but really only won the title because McLaren failed to extract the maximum from theirs.

  6. Interesting that the Mercedes engine has so far done the most number of laps, with Ferrari about 30 odd behind I think, and Renault less than 15 (I think Autosport said about 11). I wonder if Renault are struggling with reliability, or whether it’s just a coincidence that those teams are having problems.

    Also, JB back in the car tomorrow morning, with Magnussen in for the afternoon and all day Friday.

    1. In basic terms we’d been told that Merc and Ferrari should have the advantage because in house they are marrying their own chassis’ to their own engines. I’m sure Renault’s relationship with Red Bull is practically like that too…but maybe not quite. It’s not just about the engines…it’s about the complete package too. The design of the car, or even the front wing, may not provide the cooling requirements the engine needs etc etc. I get the impression that the concept of just bolting someone’s engine on the back and away you go has never been further from how it works. It’s more complicated than it has ever been. Perhaps the real advantage for Merc and Ferrari started a couple of years ago when, again, in house, they were able to start playing with the concepts that they knew would be coming for 2014, whereas Renault and RBR were concerned with winning WCCs and WDCs in 2012 and 2013. Not that the others weren’t…but in terms of working both situations simultaneously perhaps it’s been better to have everything in house.

      1. Ferrari are the only team who designed their engines in-house at Maranello.

  7. As day two of the test officially got underway, Jenson Button was first on circuit for the MP4-24′s first laps of Jerez

    Such an old car ;)

  8. I predicted back in late-2013 that Mercedes engines would be the best and Renault the worst. I know it’s just testing, but the fact that Merc can drive 100 consecutive laps with no problems, while Renault can’t even complete 11 laps is a gap too large for ignorance.

    1. Except it wasn’t 100 consecutive laps. In fact it wasn’t even 100.

      I hope you feel wise that your 1 in 3 prediction is seemingly true, albeit, that’s what all the pundits have been predicting. But please do basque in your eternal wiseness.

      1. 97 consecutive laps, and when you include inlap and outlap, that becomes 99. Close enough.

        1. Was that run at ‘race pace’ though? True, it’s a good sign, but we won’t know who’s got the reliability till Melbourne.

        2. @kingshark
          Consecutive implies that he did all those laps straight after each other. Which he didn’t. He was in the pits several times.

    2. Well, I predicted Red Bull wouldnt get ERS working very well, and they are having electrical problems it seems.

      1. Renault not Redbull, as its Renault that manufactures the ERS!

        1. And the teams do their own packaging…

          1. Read the regulations the systems all have a fixed location!

    3. And people say F1 it is not road relevant, which one would you choose? A Renault, a Ferrari or a Merc?

  9. The Mercedes and Ferrari powered teams are in the early lead for data gathering. Renault has had the same time as the rest to get things worked out. It will be interesting to see if their reported ERS issues are worked out quickly or persist. Lotus is already starting the season on their back foot, but doubtful that Red Bull is very happy at the moment.

    The look of the cars is starting to feel semi-normal in most cases and some are really starting to look good. The lower nose look is preferable to me than the way high noses. This iteration on some cars is still totally bizarre though. I will likely never become accustomed to the Caterham cartoon nose. The STR nose is just too pronounced, to put it nicely. The Force India nose while not hideous just looks like it has a wrong part sticking out. The Merc, McLaren and Red Bull are all starting to look very natural in comparison. The Ferrari looks decent in the nose area to me. The part between the actual nose and the body looks a bit crocodilian, or something. Still not too bad.

    The performance is still the main thing though. The beauty of any of these cars would improve infinitely being P1 in parc ferme at the end of the race!

    1. Agree with your whole comment, but particularly the second paragraph. I’m actually liking the new looks, particularly the lower noses in general, more than last year(s) cars, with the same exceptions you point out, including for me the Lotus which I don’t like. I’d add that I like the Williams too, and there’s one particular shot of the Williams that took me right back to the 60’s when they moved to rear engine cars. To now see so much of the mechanics of the engine (or at least tranny) compartments without there being side exhausts and bodywork around there, and instead a single exhaust up high at the centre of the rear of the car, to me, looks amazing, and as I say a throwback to the 60’s.

  10. mclaren will win title for sure now

    1. @sato113 Red Bull is so gonna retire every race with engine failures !

      And oh boy, Marussia isn’t even going to show up !!!

      (gotta love winter test humour :P)

    2. obviously

  11. Why are we even getting excited. Red Bull is gonna win the title easy…

    1. Based on the fact they have won the past four titles? Whilst that proves they are a great team, it doesn’t mean they will dominate, just like Ferrari didn’t in 2005, and McLaren and Ferrari didn’t continue at the top in 2009.

  12. So glad to see some RBR struggles… Love it!!!

    1. Still early days, but it would be refreshing to for once see someone other than Red Bull win the championship. I would prefer Ferrari, though I fear Mercedes more than any other team.

  13. Button revealed that all the Mercedes teams had been running different kinds of programmes to understand the engine and admitted that, somewhat against the grain in the usually cut-throat world of F1, they could all help each other.
    “Looking at the timesheets today it’s very interesting because we’re running a very different programme to [Nico] Rosberg and Mercedes,” he revealed. “We’re running very different engine modes, we’re trying different things, so we’re getting a lot of information from both cars. Also with [Williams driver Valtteri] Bottas and with [Force India’s Sergio] Perez as well.
    “So there’s a lot of information, a lot of mileage. I think it’s 75% of the mileage done by an F1 car has a Mercedes engine. You could say we’re in good shape that way as long as it continues like that. We all need to work together. Obviously at the end of the day we’re all here to fight each other as teams but the more information that we can share over the next weeks and months can really make a difference to our championship.”


  14. Yet again, JB demonstrates why he is the best driver on the grid. His laps were impressively quick and measured. I feel we could be in for another 2009 in which JB will finally have a car worthy of his tremendous talent. These new regs will prove to suit Button’s style and if it comes down to a Button v Vettel or Alonso showdown, I favour Button because of his tactical and technical approach as well as his better mind management.

    1. Wow… That is so wrong…

    2. @sem Haha

  15. Of course, day 2 and Mclaren’s first run.
    The difference this year is that they had the farce of last years testing. Do you think that would happen twice? Plus, Button was fastest in the wet and in the dry, basically fastest in two seperate session.

    It’s still only day 2, but I suspect some demons have been put to rest.

    1. Button and Mclaren were fastest this time last year in testing..and look what happened, to people ever learn to not read into lap times during testing

  16. Does anyone know if the Renault engine actually ran in a chassis last year – not on the dyno – in a chassis?

  17. Get ready for a season of exploding batteries….

  18. Chris (@tophercheese21)
    29th January 2014, 23:11

    Wow, 97 laps for Rosberg. Mercedes are well ahead of the rest.

    Go Merc!

  19. lol Button goes quickest, we can’t have that can we. Better dig out some excuses as to why it’s meaningless ;) Oh look, Mercedes went for longest over two days now there you go, reliability beats speed, that’s the same as consistency beats speed right?

  20. JB has been declared 2014 World Champion by finishing on top of DAY TWO of testing.
    Don’t even bother watching the championship because he is going to win 11 races and KM will win the rest.

    Isn’t that what Day 2 tells us anyway?

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