The Formula 1 circus got the band back together earlier this week with the first of its preseason testing in Jerez, Spain. Testing began on Monday and concludes Friday, but despite ideal dry and wet conditions, not all is well in the paddock. The massive regulation change implemented for the 2014 season has taken its toll on more than one constructor, including last year’s champions, Red Bull.
This year’s regulations dropped the 2.4L V8s of the past eight seasons in favor of a new 1.6L V6 turbo-hybrid layout, and not everyone is pleased. The Renault-engined cars in particular have remained quite stationary since testing began. Returning champion Sebastian Vettel managed only eight laps before the Renault-powered RB10’s energy recovery system gave out on short notice. Caterham also had similar difficulties. And that's not even mentioning that Lotus is missing testing altogether.
Casual observers will also notice the cars have gotten significantly less pretty this year as well. FIA regulations mandated a slash to the nose height of the cars, having cited safety concerns but incidentally ushered in an era of phallic-looking designs for these 2014 racers. Front and rear wing specs have been changed as well, lopping off 150mm from the front, and disbarring the lower-beam wing and exhaust blowing technologies. Shame.
McLaren’s Jenson Button was fastest on Day 2 of testing and rookie Kevin Magnussen set the pace on Day 3, giving the Woking-based team something to smile about. Talk continues to surround McLaren’s ingenious “blocker” rear suspension, which provides downforce at slow speeds, and drag-reduction at high speed. Compared to the facepalm that was last year’s car, McLaren might be in position to challenge for the title in 2014.