That is it… The final day for Formula One testing before the 2014 season begins in less than two weeks has come to an end. It has been an eventful final week for the teams as they attempt to learn, understand and push their new cars to the limit. Well, I say eventful… Eventful if your team isn’t named Red Bull who over the past few weeks, let alone these final important days, have barley turned a wheel. Whilst the Mercedes-Benz engined teams are clocking up the millage and running full race simulations, Red Bull Racing are still suffering. The question is no longer “will Red Bull be dominant again this season?” More “will they even finish the first race.”
Whilst other Renault engined teams have been having a hard time of it, the tightly packaged RB10 has suffered issue after issue. With statements of “we have a lot of work to do tomorrow” soon being followed up by headlines reading “Red Bull leave testing early” to say the defending world champions are in trouble would be an understatement. Saturday marked the teams worst test day with Vettel only completing four corners before his car conked out. Although on Sunday he managed 77 laps, a brake failure brought an abrupt end to testing for a team who haven’t even managed to simulate a complete race distance without problems.
The dramatic rule changes of the 2014 season would, at this point at least, appear to have changed the pecking order. Mercedes-Benz are the clear favourites going into the first race in Australia with competitive lap times overall and the most millage under their belts. McLaren are looking strong as are Ferrari and the Williams team. With big guns such as Red Bull and Lotus potentially not making it to the end of their debut race, this is a prime opportunity for teams lower on the grid to grab some all-important points.
Whilst their chances of winning, or even finishing the first race of 2014, are slim don’t count Red Bull out for the duration of the season. As soon as their engine and packaging problems are fixed they will likely provide strong competition.