McLaren remained on top of the testing pile on day three at Jerez courtesy of Kevin Magnussen, the son of one-time F1 racer Jan posting the fastest time of the week to ensure the British team continued at the head of the timesheets heading into the final day.
The morning session saw Jenson Button remain in the cockpit of the McLaren, a change made after he failed to run on Tuesday with problems and a compromise to allow him more time at the wheel of the all-new MP4/29. The Englishman duly set the pace early in the morning, a benchmark that was only surpassed late in the afternoon by Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes on the softer, medium compound Pirelli. Magnussen made his debut as a bonafide McLaren driver after lunch, rattling off some impressive laptimes as he worked his way toward the frontrunners pace while focusing on his testing program.
It was a less successful day for the Renault-engined teams as Red Bull hit more trouble with Daniel Ricciardo in the car; the Australian was halfway through his first outlap when his RB10 ground to a halt with engine issues, and he completed a meagre handful of laps before ending his day’s running early. Team Principal Christian Horner and design guru Adrian Newey left the circuit mid-afternoon to fly home to the team’s factory in Milton Keynes, ostensibly to begin work on correcting the problems that have blighted their week so far.
‘B’ team Toro Rosso tried to squeeze a longer run out of Jean Eric Vergne in the final hour, but the Frenchman’s STR9 was unwilling to play ball and he expired with yet more engine gremlins – all compounding belief that Renault are in serious trouble with their V6 turbo configuration. Caterham’s Robin Frijns also spent much of the day in the garage while his team worked through the issues plaguing the CT05.
Force India and Sauber, while not running Renault engines, also had a varied day as incidents for seat-exchangees Nico Hulkenberg and Adrian Sutil delayed their progress. Hulkenberg experienced an engine niggle after lunch that needed work, while Sutil’s C33 suffered a rear suspension failure that saw the German end up in the barriers – thankfully unhurt.
Ferrari got back into the swing of things with Fernando Alonso in the car, albeit with an interlude early doors when the Spaniard halted on track in the middle of a duel at the top of the timesheets with Button. Otherwise, his running was uneventful. Marussia will be powered by Ferrari for the first time in 2014, and Max Chilton took the MR03 for its maiden spin in the afternoon without problems, encouraging Marussia in their contest with Caterham to score points for the first time.
TIMES – JEREZ DAY THREE 30th January 2014
|11||Ricciardo||Red Bull||No Time||3|