I freely admit that this is just an emotional response to the end of the second pre-season test but if you’re British, you may have a reason to be excited about the upcoming 2014—that is, if the double-points fiasco doesn’t ruin it for you.
After watching and reading about the first test in Bahrain this week, I was encouraged by several factors. As an American, I don’t have a knife in this fight and haven’t had for years but suffice it to say, there could be something positive for the Brits if testing proves to be a sign of potential race pace.
The new regulations will certainly play a massive role in reliability, power plant issues, software concerns, energy storage gremlins and more. There is no telling what will happen come the first race in March. However, Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton and Williams have shown promise.
Williams F1 has something happening. When they did run in testing, their pace was intriguing and with new Mercedes shove in their chassis, it could bode well for drivers Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas. Speaking of Massa, the Brazilian is excited to be at Williams F1 and why not? The team has just announced a slew of new Brazilian sponsors as well as a third-driver signing in Felipe Nasr of GP2 fame. Along with Petrobras and Banco do Brasil, the team have some welcome sponsors and presumably some additional cash. Keep a close eye on how Williams do in the final test in Bahrain next week.
For Mercedes, the praise keeps coming and with Nico Rosberg’s flying laps on the final day of testing this week, the rumbling has them as the ones to beat in 2014. This bodes well for Lewis Hamilton as he’s no stranger to wringing the neck of a car and being 10/10ths if he has the right equipment…and even if he doesn’t sometimes. Lewis will have a mighty competitor on the grid and namely his own teammate.
For McLaren, it’s been a bit rocky losing technical personnel and a team boss but Eric Boullier will step in nicely and had proven his abilities at Lotus F1. The car, benefitting from the Mercedes engine development that the Mercedes AMG Petronas team enjoys, has some interesting design features in the rear diffuser and suspension area being called “mushrooms” and it remains to be seen if any other teams will protest the feature but many say it could be a great move to claw back the aerodynamic los of the lower element of the rear wing which was banned for 2014.
Driver Jenson Button reckons the buzz is back at McLaren and with a new team boss, Ron Dennis back in charge and a car that seems to be performing well in pre-season testing, there is every reason to get excited about the folks in Woking.
Red Bull has had their issues in both pre-season testing events—first in Jerez last January and now in Bahrain. They have four days left to sort their issues and Renault Sport F1 says they too have issues in software management and control.
I maintain that Renault and Red Bull are doing some serious high-wire acts with their chassis, software and ERS systems that are designed to use the technology in a way that pushes the envelope well beyond the letter of the law. It is this complication of design and desire for hidden advantage that could be causing issues and then again, it could win a 5th title.
As I say, this is purely an emotional response and has very little technical or official provenance but the truth is, it is about time Brits have something to get excited about after the Red Bull domination and why not see a battle between Mercedes, McLaren and Ferrari?
Time is the grand equalizer and when you have reached the pinnacle of Formula 1, there is only once direction to go. Will this be the year Red Bull starts its downward march? Can they take the new RB10 even higher than the previous iterations? Can McLaren reclaim their rightful place amongst the competitors at the sharp end of the grid? Will Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen gamble pay off? Can Lewis Hamilton start winning the titles he felt were his to take? Time, as I say, is the grand equalizer…it’s also the grand revelator. Bring on Australia.