Red Bull say their opening-day Bahrain problems were 'unrelated' to Jerez issues
Team insist they have made progress since disastrous first test
By William Esler
Last Updated: 19/02/14 6:41pm
The World Champion was forced to stop on track after just 14 laps on the opening day at Sakhir, although the team also insisted the problems they encountered were unrelated to those experienced at Jerez three weeks ago, when they completed just 21 laps across four days.
"I hope [the car's] competitive but we don't know yet - it's difficult to get a feel when you only get to do a couple of laps. Not everything is running smoothly yet. I think that's most important - to understand how everything works," Vettel told Sky Sports News.
"You make your car as driveable as you can. Obviously we are still at the beginning...I don't see any reason to panic. In a way, it's a surprise but in another way it's not, because we knew it's a massive challenge.
"We didn't expect to have that many problems right at the beginning. But it is what it is and I know that everyone is working 100 per cent flat out to find solutions as quick as we can."
Red Bull Race Engineering Co-ordinator Andy Damerum says they have made big improvements since Jerez, but admits the team are playing catch-up.
"It's been a very long two weeks for everyone back at the factory and I have to say that while it might not appear so on the surface there has been a big improvement since Jerez," he said.
"We are obviously playing catch-up and for us this was very much like a first test, so we were sending the car out to do one lap, then two and trying to build from there. In that regard the laps completed were good. However, we were sidelined by a mechanical gremlin but one unrelated to the issues in Jerez.
"That's the way of testing. All these problems have to be ironed out and only reveal themselves as you progress. We'll look at solving that issue now and we're itching to get out on track again tomorrow."
Vettel's chances of equalling Michael Schumacher's record of five-successive Drivers' Championships might appearing bleaker with every day of running, but the German is confident the RB10 is a solid car if the team can iron out the gremlins.
"Obviously we're not happy with where we are now and we have a long way ahead of us," Vettel added.
"The first gut feeling from the car is OK, but we need more running. It's not easy to find a quick fix, but I think we understand the problems. We sorted out the issues from Jerez and we were able to do some laps today.
"However, very often you fix one problem and another pops up, which is what happened. That's testing. We all knew this year was a massive challenge and we knew it would be difficult. We obviously didn't want this, but it is what it is and we are working flat out to solve the problems."
Bahrain test, Day One timesheet:
1. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, 1:36.880, 78 laps.
2. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 1:37.879, 64 laps.
3. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:37.908, 74 laps.
4. Kevin Magnussen, McLaren, 1:38.295, 81 laps.
5. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 1:40.224, 14 laps.
6. Adrian Sutil, Sauber, 1:40.443, 82 laps.
7. Robin Frijns, Caterham, 1:42.534, 68 laps.
8. Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso, 1:44.346, 5 laps.
9. Romain Grosjean, Lotus, 1:44.832, 8 laps.
10. Felipe Massa, Williams, No time, 5 laps.
11. Jules Bianchi, Marussia, No time, 3 laps.
Total pre-season laps by each team:
Mercedes - 383.
McLaren - 326.
Ferrari - 315.
Sauber - 245.
Force India - 224.
Williams - 180.
Caterham - 144.
Toro Rosso - 59.
Red Bull - 35.
Marussia - 33.
Lotus - 8.
Total pre-season laps by each engine manufacturer:
Mercedes - 1,113.
Ferrari - 593.
Renault - 246.
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.