Jerez Test 2014, Day Two: Red Bull & Sebastian Vettel forced to stop early
Jenson Button finishes day on top; Track soaked at start of day for wet tyre testing; Mercedes engines rack up miles; Three Renault teams, including Red Bull, complete just 19 laps in total
By Pete Gill in Jerez
Last Updated: 31/01/14 10:25am
It's the earliest of days in the F1 year but already it seems clear Red Bull are on the backfoot as they prepare to defend the title double they have won for the last four seasons, with the Mercedes and Ferrari-powered teams seemingly ahead of the struggling Renault runners.
Over two days at Jerez, Vettel has completed a meagre 11 laps and will have departed for his home in Germany on Wednesday night with almost as little understanding of his new RB10 charger and the sport's complex new regulations as when he arrived in southern Spain at the start of the week.
The critical issue affecting each of the Renault runners - Red Bull, Caterham and Toro Rosso, who did not run at all on Wednesday - is believed to centre on their Engine Recovery Systems, the upshot of which was that the trio of teams completed a grand total of 19 laps on Day Two.
Renault have insisted the problem will be fixed overnight but that will have been of scant consolation to Vettel as he hands over driving duties to new team-mate Daniel Ricciardo for the remainder of the test.
"Obviously we've not had a lot of running and have a few problems to sort out, but with such big rule changes it is usual to have some teething problems," said Vettel prior to his departure.
"That's what tests are for, to sort those issues out. The next two days will be important to get some track time to prepare for the tests in Bahrain."
In contrast to the woe of the Renault runners, Nico Rosberg registered nearly 100 laps for Mercedes, who had seen their new W05 car hit the barriers on Monday when Lewis Hamilton suffered a front-wing failure.
"That was a great team effort today," Rosberg said.
"We had to fix a problem on our car overnight. The guys worked through the night back at the factories and flew in the parts just in time this morning, so we were able to do a lot of mileage today which is great for our learning process.
"It was a great feeling to put some good miles on the new Silver Arrow and there's a lot of new stuff to clear because it's very different to the old car. It's heavier, you have less downforce and the steering wheel is completely different; it's almost like a smartphone with all the information on it!"
Jenson Button, having missed the whole of Tuesday's action, put 43 laps under the belt of his MP4-29 on the way to setting the fastest lap on the day that McLaren appointed Eric Boullier their Racing Director in a new multi-layered management restructuring and Williams also had cause to smile as Valtteri Bottas recorded the second-quickest lap as the new chargers finally began to show a turn of speed after a morning spent wet-weather running on an artificially-watered circuit.
Button's table-topping effort of 1:24.165, set late in the day as the sun shone and in a car which is already attracting interest from rival teams, may have been a long way adrift of the 1:17.879 Felipe Massa beat the field with at Jerez last year but it was nevertheless significantly faster than Raikkonen's day-best effort of 1:27.104 on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Esteban Gutierrez shrugged off a trip into the gravel as he racked up 53 laps - the most of any Ferrari-powered driver - to gain valuable mileage for Sauber and their C33.
"Today we were able to do a lot of laps, which is very positive," the Mexican said.
"Considering the circumstances, it is very important to put in this mileage. We found some issues in the systems, which is something to work on and part of the process. Obviously at this stage I was not able to push. Before we can take it to the limit our priority is reliability.
"We had some issues with the braking system, where it was better to go easy in the braking zones, figure out how the system reacts, get mileage and sort it out."
Testing continues on Thursday when Lewis Hamilton returns to action while rookie Kevin Magnussen will debut for McLaren in the afternoon session.
Jerez test, Day Two timesheet:
1. Button, McLaren, 1:24.165, 43 laps
2. Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:24.812, 47 laps
3. Bottas, Williams, 1:25.344; 35 laps
4. Rosberg, Mercedes, 1:25.588, 97 laps
5. Perez, Force India, 1:28.376, 37 laps
6. Gutierrez, Sauber, 1:33.270, 53 laps
7. Ericsson, Caterham, 1:37.975, 11 laps
8. Vettel, Red Bull, 1:38.320, 8 laps
Toro Rosso haven't completed a lap.
The Sky Sports F1 Online team will be providing live commentary of all three winter tests, with live updates from trackside also on Sky Sports News.