Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren-Honda MP4-29H/1X1, Yas Marina, 2014

Mercedes end 2014 on top as McLaren struggle again

2014 F1 testingPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Mercedes’ reserve driver Pascal Wehrlein headed the final F1 test day of 2014 on his first appearance for the team.

Wehrlein, who has logged tens of thousands of kilometres on the W05 in Mercedes’ simulator, set a best lap of 1’42.624 at Yas Marina.

Ferrari were second-fastest again, this time with test driver Raffaele Marciello at the wheel, and Max Verstappen ended his second day of testing for Toro Rosso with the third-quickest time.

However, having covered only three laps yesterday McLaren’s Honda-powered MP4-29H/1X1 didn’t even manage that many day. Stoffel Vandoorne only emerged from the garage twice.

“Although this looked like another difficult day, this is just part of the learning experience we expected when we took on the interim car programme,” said racing director Eric Boullier.

“It’s useful to discover these issues pre-Christmas, as it allows us to deepen our understanding of the complex integration between power-unit, ancillaries and the car. And, to be honest, I’d rather be ironing out these problems here in Abu Dhabi, than discovering them in Jerez, next February.”

“Any mileage we accrued this week would simply have been a bonus,” he added.

Will Stevens added another 76 laps to the 102 he did for Caterham yesterday, meaning he has covered more than three race distance since making his grand prix debut for them on Sunday.

“Looking back, I wish I could have the race weekend beginning now, after these two days,” he said. “I’ve definitely made the most of this test.”

Stevens was a surprising fifth-fastest ahead of Richard Goddard, who was having his first F1 test. The Force India driver ran the development ‘Info Wing’ fan information system on his car at one point.

Driver Car Best time Laps Difference
1 Pascal Wehrlein Mercedes W05 1’42.624 96
2 Raffaele Marciello Ferrari F14 T 1’43.208 91 0.584
3 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso-Renault STR9 1’43.763 78 1.139
4 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari C33 1’44.551 112 1.927
5 Will Stevens Caterham-Renault CT05 1’44.888 76 2.264
6 Richard Goddard Force India-Mercedes VJM07 1’44.944 89 2.320
7 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault RB10 1’45.151 74 2.527
8 Felipe Nasr Williams-Mercedes FW36 1’45.937 83 3.313
9 Alex Lynn Lotus-Renault E22 1’46.168 52 3.544
10 Esteban Ocon Lotus-Renault E22 1’47.013 34 4.389
11 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren-Honda MP4-29H/1X1 2

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45 comments on “Mercedes end 2014 on top as McLaren struggle again”

  1. Hard not to feel disappointed for McLaren. They don’t need to be at the track to see if the thing actually runs do they? What a waste. Hope this isn’t a sign that their processes aren’t that great.

    1. @lockup Why feel sorry for them? They had the field-leading engine and dropped it for Honda. If Honda’s is the worst engine of the season, I say McLaren deserve it. Sure, they want to be a works team, but how can you feel sorry for a team that were given an epic engine on a platter and decided to say no thanks?

      1. @timi Well I have a soft spot for McLaren now Ron’s back. And I do like his sheer courage over the years. He’s quite right IMO that he won’t beat Mercedes as a customer, with all the integration issues.

        Plus I would love to see some Nando vs Lewis again…

        1. You have a soft spot for McLaren now that Ron is back??? You are the only person I’ve ever heard say that! I am speechless! But respect for going against the grain- each to their own etc.

          1. Haha. But I am not alone, honest. Lots of people think Ron Dennis is one of the greats of F1. Not the most likeable perhaps, but he stands head and shoulders above the employee TP’s afaic.

          2. @peppermint-lemon KeithR is indeed not alone. Ron Dennis is one of F1’s most significant figures. I’m more inclined to be interested in McLaren’s activities while he is involved. And I sincerely hope they can take the fight to Mercedes, first and foremost for the sheer entertainment value!

      2. If McLaren want to get back to the front they need full manufacturer support, something their rivals Ferrari (obviously) and Red Bull have. Mercedes prerogative is their own team, therefore taking a chance with Honda is their only hoe

      3. Isn’t it too soon to express an opinion on this? It is not only a matter of the next year, it is a matter of the many years to come. Strategic partnerships and alliances aim long-term. No matter how good Honda proves to be in the future, McLaren HAD to do something and differentiate its destiny from an engine supplier that owns a team (and thus cannot be expected to treat its customers in the same way that serves its own interests).

        Ron Dennis is no pitwall boss, he leads a large corporation and has to think strategically.

      4. They didn’t have the field-leading engine in May 2013 when the Honda tie-up was announced. No-one knew how good (or bad) any of V6s were going to be.

      5. I would say there is about $16 million worth of reasons to swap to Honda.
        ie) free engines and more money to develop the actual car.

    2. If I remember well in 2013 there were no new 1.6T PU testing. So they are ahead with this test if you compared it.

      1. Yeah I think you’re right there, and if so then comparatively Honda have a sizeable advantage for track time is very precious.

    3. I’m not sure if things are as dark as they appear. Why are those other teams there? Presumably to test their 2015 car, but some of the designations suggest the cars being tested are 2014 cars. From what I can tell, the 2015 car will be slightly heavier than the 2014 car, so it may be this test series can provide some useful data. For McLaren, with a new engine and transmission, using their current 2014 car may be a waste of time because they may need to do a complete redesign of the car. Maybe they could have sat out of this test series altogether and end up with the same result.

    4. The last thing this Mac/Honda test was, was a waste. It was step one and great for them that they have gained knowledge now from which to proceed. And I too have no problem with RD. It’s going to be so exciting to see how they do, but I would caution against expecting miracles in this first season, as it is just that…their first season.

  2. Not good for Stoffel Vandoorne. He would have expected lot of running but did not get any.

  3. Red Bull managed 21 laps at the first outing of the 2014 car, which was regarded as a disaster. That was at Jerez in January, so while McLaren didn’t even manage that, they do have a couple of months to catch up to Red Bull.

    1. That’s the exact point to be observed. Red Bull couldn’t run the car in Jerez, and considering the complexity of this PU’s, it’s understandable to see Honda struggling in the first days.

      Too early to rule off Honda. Maybe people’s anxiety too see them running is making it too big for the moment.

  4. This is a picture you ought to get used to: Pascal Wehrlein on top.

    1. Stick anyone (hell even Martin Brundle doing a TV review) in that Merc aat that test and they will go to the top of the sheets, what’s your point?

  5. The problems that had honda engine are normal, we will see in February.

  6. Isn’t it possible that Alonso or McLaren have not announced anything is because Alonso is going to take a call after this test? And if the McLaren-Honda really turns out as bad as it seems right now, he might take a year off. Thus McLaren keeping their current drivers hanging till December…

    1. For sure, everything is possible. But I must say that I do not understand why Alonso doesn’t finish his F1 career. It is obvious that he will never become a champion again. Honda built a pretty terrible engine, plus no other team will be able to reach Mercedes pace. I am sure that Mercedes can do nothing this winter and win 2015 WCC nice and easy.

      1. You know about all the Honda engine specifics do you? Do tell!

        1. @jh1806 – You know nothing either. So you cannot tell otherwise. It is obvious that Honda has troubles. No one know about the actual amount of bhp in those engines. But you should not forget that last year there were assumptions that Mercedes built a killer-engine. Now there are assumptions that Honda fails to build a decent engine.
          Let’s wait and see.

      2. That’s an awful lot of assumptions for one post.

        1. No, you are wrong.
          In F1 everything is an assumption.
          My thoughts are based on some observations.
          I should recall you the Canada-2014 experience. Without ERS Rosberg managed to finish on podium.

      3. Seems you have some classified information, you should call Alonso and Mclaren and tell them they should quit before spending millions on trying to build a racecar for next year. To me Alonso still has some years at top level, just needs a capable car, I think he has been showing he is a top driver, and in fact i think he is a much better driver than he was when he won in 2005 and 2006.

        1. antizyklon – It doesn’t matter that Alonso is on top level. I am a die-hard Alonso fan but I do not see a single reason for him to waste time trying to achieve what Hamilton or Vettel achieved. Though we must admit Alonso is an extremely strong-willed man.

      4. @slava Williams and RBR have close the gap to Mercedes as you can see in last 3 races. Without DT in Massa should end up below 10 seconds to both Mercs. I know W05 amazingly fast, but when rivals improve, you got some homework to do. Honda we still don’t know, but it SHOULD be at least on par with Merc, if it not then McLaren will fall into vicious cycle

        1. @deongunner – Mercedes were much faster than any team through the whole year. In Abu-Dhabi they were untouchable again. Mercedes doesn’t lose the development race. So how can anyone reach their pace? They have the best engine+the best package overall. Williams doesn’t have the needed amount on money to fight with Mercedes. Red Bull is a second best team now, but they do not have the best engine. How can Renault reach Mercedes quality? They asked to be allowed to change 67% (or about) of the engine to improve. It was prohibited. How can they reach Mercedes?

          1. @slava For me, everything is possible, just look how Ferrari dominance in 2002 lost in 2003 and Red Bull 2011 lost in 2012. Of course Merc is still pretty fast, but we don’t know how far their rivals improve

  7. I wonder how comparable the running was between Alex Lynn and Esteban Ocon?

    Any information @keithcollantine?

    1. @lockup Well, Lynn got the afternoon, but the bigger picture is, how come the sudden rush to get him some F1 testing experience? Vergne also just announced he won’t be returning at Toro Rosso, so now it’s Sainz or Lynn, with Gasly not doing any running (and focussing on GP2).

    2. On James Allen it says the times are not comparable but Lynn acquainted himself well etc

  8. I don’t see how McLaren will come any closer to Mercedes – even if the Honda PU is a beast and they invested most resources in the 2015 car the minimal changes for 2015 will still put them months behind Merc’s development curve.

    1. McLaren has something the other teams don’t have, it is called Alonso. Go Ron, go Honda, give us a good fight in 2015!

  9. I cannot see that McLaren-Honda are going to be much of a force in their first season. I don’t think they will make much of an impression on the podium. It could be that after all the speculation JB takes a look at what’s happening and decides he does not want to stay anyway. I predict more frustration if he does and for Alonso.

    1. I can not believe that a company like Honda does not get it right by March 2015. They will be the 2nd or 3rd best car out there. If not I’ll eat my hat…

  10. Anyone rubbishing Honda is being ridiculous. How many teams on the grid this year had an 3 days with the current PU in 2013?…None. Ask any of the current teams of they’d have liked 3 days back in November last year..Christian Horner would have sold you Geri Halliwell for that!

    The 3 days that theyve had, regardless of how much theyve run, its a massive when it comes familiarization and data collection. It gives them a good reference point to work through the winter. Good move by Mclaren and Honda.

    1. maybe so but if they did top the sheet both days, 2015 season could not have come soon enough and all formula 1 will smell of excitement instead of .. oh well poor teams, audience lost and a motorsport series dominated by one team only.

    2. Anyone rubbishing Honda is being ridiculous. How many teams on the grid this year had an 3 days with the current PU in 2013?…None.

      But then again, Honda has been busy with their PU for more than a year, and have been able to focus exclusively on it. And yet they have done less running than even Red Bull ran their RB10 in the first pre-season test. Let alone the Mercedes-engined teams.
      I think they would have wanted to at least be further in the proceedings than RBR at Jerez in January.

      Not that I’m rubbishing them, they still have time and in 2 months time they can make great progress. But this test has definitely failed.

  11. With all due respect to Honda and McLaren, I wonder whether McLaren really ran the Honda PU in its filming day shakedown run using the MP4-29H/1X1? Or did they simply re-do the paint job but ran the Mercedes PU instead?

  12. Why did it run on Silverstone?
    A Honda- labelled Mercedes…….?

  13. Well, I wouldn’t be surprised if McLaren had been focusing primarily on 2015 for a couple of years now. The Honda partnership has been a long time coming. Look at Mercedes, who poured their resources into 2014 whilst enduring an underwhelming few years which have been vindicated by their overwhelming success this year.

    As for the results of this test, we can read nothing. All the guys from Honda and McLaren probably know what they’re doing a bit more than we do.

    1. @electrolite Well said, and exactly. And the key here is Honda AND McLaren. Today’s cars are about so much more than just, in this case, Honda making a superior PU, slapping it into the Macs, and off they go taking the fight to Mercedes. It is about the marriage of PU and chassis and about braking as that is so tied into the PUs now too. Let’s give Mac/Honda time and patience as this is only the start for them, and let’s give the team members the benefit of the doubt that they know what they are doing and have to do.

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