Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir: Mark Webber could never quite embrace playing second fiddle to Red Bull’s four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, although Australia’s new man taking on formula one’s poisoned chalice may this week discover it can have some benefits.
In fact for the next two days, Daniel Ricciardo gets to sit back to see if Vettel’s car works.
The German champ will run on Wednesday and Thursday, after a hectic few weeks in the factory trying to find design solutions for Red Bull’s shocker at last month’s testing in Spain. Ricciardo will then take to the Bahrain circuit for round two of testing on Friday and Saturday after Red Bull’s engineers have had 48 hours of fine-tuning Vettel’s RB10.
Overheating issues meant Vettel and Ricciardo managed just over 20 laps between them at Jerez, while other leading teams managed more than 200. It’s certainly not the start Ricciardo would have anticipated when he won the prized seat alongside Vettel at the constructors’ championship winning team, but it also gives the sunny West Australian youngster the chance to show his new team the adaptability and down-to-earth calmness that has propelled him to the upper echelons of the sport.
This year formula one has introduced a raft of rule changes, including introducing V6 turbo engines, new energy storage systems that provide an electric boost and regulations that change aerodynamic designs. So far it’s been Red Bull who are seen to be behind in getting their set-up right, an unusual situation given the other big talking point in F1 is the decision to award double points to drivers at the final race of the year. That rule follows Vettel’s recent domination of the sport and a feeling that changing the points system at the end of the season could help keep the title fight alive down to the wire.
Then again, who would bet against Red Bull’s chief designer Adrian Newey solving all the recent problems and Vettel ultimately scooping up those extra points at the end of the season? Certainly not Mark Webber, who recently pondered the likelihood of skittish cars in 2014 in a video for the website autosport and noted: “It’s probably not what people want to hear at home, but I think that helps Sebastian. That’s right up his alley, that’s perfect for him.”
And while the new technical regulations mean much of the focus in testing has been on the cars themselves, expect tyres to also become a talking point as teams start to find the time to evaluation how Pirelli’s new compounds are performing.
Rarely out of the spotlight last season, the type manufacturer’s motorsport director Paul Hembery issued a statement on Tuesday saying he expected there’d be a lot more information after this week’s test.
“The first test of the year in Jerez was all about the teams getting their first taste of a very different set of technical regulations, so as expected running was limited and evaluating tyres was not a priority,” Hembrey said.
“On top of that, winter conditions in Europe – even in southern Spain – are not representative of the race conditions we will generally encounter throughout the rest of the season. In Bahrain, we’re expecting better weather and more running, which will allow ourselves and the teams to assimilate more data and knowledge of the tyres.”
Andrew Tate travelled to Bahrain courtesy of the AGPC