F1 takes stock of the situation before Melbourne

After the three pre-season testing sessions were set aside, all eyes are on the upcoming March 14th, the date the free practice session of the Australian GP will take place.

Much attention will be paid on reliability, as it happened throughout the last Bahrain testing session. Gian Carlo Minardi told his website www.minardi.it about the importance of doing more test “Nobody, from Mercedes to Caterham, is fully satisfied with the work done, so this makes us understand that it would have been more intelligent to plan more test sessions, since F1 regulations changed so much.”

Some team principals have taken a stock of the current situation, with a view to the 2014 first F1 event.

Toto Wolff – Mercedes:The testing stage ended, however, there is still a lot of work to do to get well prepared to the Melbourne event. The first event will be a test run for all teams. During pre-season tests we experienced highs and lows, especially in the final phase. The main obstacle is reliability. In the first races we won’t have to take anything for granted.”

Stefano Domenicali – Ferrari: “The rule changes for this season have been so radical that I’d say to get a consensus you would need further tests before the championship gets underway. In our case, we are taking a lot of data back home, which we will now analyse in depth. Some aspects deserve more attention to achieve the performance level we are looking for, while others maybe just need a bit of fine tuning. Once back in Maranello, we will do all in our power to rectify the things that aren’t working properly yet, so that we can be as well prepared as possible in Melbourne. I believe, we could see big changes from the first race to the second and from the second to the third, with everyone bringing in developments all the time. At first, reliability will be the key, because without it you don’t score points. I also think that some teams that are struggling at the moment will be able to catch up, while teams that currently seem to have a slight advantage could see a plateau in their performance, allowing the others to close the gap. From what we have seen so far, there are two teams out in front, Mercedes and Williams. After them, it could be us. From our side, we know there is still a mountain of things for our engineers to develop. What I’m interested in and what I have specifically requested is that we define a list of priorities and stick to it. One aspect we will definitely be looking at is the relationship between the turbo engine and the electric energy recovery systems and there’s much to do in this area. On the other hand, we return to Maranello knowing that the figures we saw from the car during the design phase have been correlated at the track and that’s already a good starting point.”

Rod Nelson – Williams: “We combined a total of 936 laps over the three sessions with the FW36 and we’re very satisfied with the work done. Unfortunately Valtteri had an issue on the last day, but after running so many km, to have an issue is something along the lines. We left Bahrain highly satisfied with the direction taken.”

Andrew Green – Force India: “Our programme ended slightly early with a suspected component failure, which was a result of high mileage, and so we didn’t manage to complete our target number of laps. Nonetheless our time in Bahrain has gone largely to plan with the mileage achieved during the previous three days leaving us in good shape going into Melbourne. We’re feeling positive about our reliability and have explored some encouraging directions for improving car performance. The other focus has been on our race readiness and we’ve done a great deal of homework to prepare the drivers for the challenge that awaits them in Melbourne.”

Giampaolo Dall’Ara – Sauber: “Looking back at the first test in Jerez, we had a tough programme to get through and faced several unexpected problems, which meant we lost running time. The learning curve was very steep at the first test. Now it’s a bit flatter, but there is still enough to do. We will take our experience from the tests, evaluate the data and be ready for the first race in Melbourne. Our drivers managed to gain high mileage (158 laps completed).Nevertheless, I’m sure that we will still learn a lot over the first few races of the season.”

According to pre-season tests results, the Red Bull’s start to the season hasn’t been so brilliant. With a view to the opening race in Melbourne, Christian Horner jabs at a fuel consumption-related issue. Gian Carlo Minardi had already considered the fuel consumption-related problems on his website www.minardi.it a couple of days ago “Slow and steady wins the race” said the Faenza-born manager. His words have been echoed by Chris Horner: “I don’t believe this season drivers’ main concern will be to conserve tyres, as they’ll have to go easy on the gas in order to conserve fuel. My main concern is that we’ll probably lose the wheel-to-wheel face-off. We hope not to see drivers having to go easy on the gas to conserve fuel in order to cross the line.”