Infiniti Months in the Making
JEREZ, Spain--Jan. 30, 2014: So, there it is. Months in the making, yesterday at 0840 the RB10 rolled out of the garage and into the pitlane at Jerez. We had a sunny morning for it – if a little fresh – and around 150 photographers lined up to catch a first glimpse as Seb and Daniel peeled off the sheet.
The car appeared at the appointed hour, rolled out on a dolly by some of our mechanics who positioned the car in front of a shiny new back drop which had been set up outside the garages.
Everyone's been doing a spot of expectation management in the last few weeks, preparing the world for F1 cars that are perhaps... less than classically beautiful. Even so, there have been a few sharp intakes of breath when the new cars have been revealed. Ours isn't too bad, though look past the paintwork and you realize livery designers really do earn their fees.
"It looks very good!" said Daniel. "Believe it or not, this morning is the first time I'd seen it with all the bodywork. I'd seen a few pictures but it looks better in real life. Until I drive I'm not going to know what it feels like – but it looks exciting."
Daniel and Seb cheerfully allowing themselves to be directed by the photographers as they teased the sheet off in stages. They then posed with the car – giving everyone a first good look at their new overalls – before being joined for more pictures by Adrian Newey, Christian Horner, Rob Marshall, Paul Monaghan and Renault's Rob White. Resembling the world's most high-tech wedding, everyone then posed in every conceivable combination before the car was pushed back into the garage. The drivers wandered off to say hello and shake hands with people they haven't seen since Interlagos, and that was the end of the photo-op that will excite more than a little comment.
While the crew got busy in the garage, the drivers and senior management made use of some downtime to fit in their media commitments for the week with a battery of press conferences and interviews.
"It's been epic this winter," said Christian. "Obviously it's a lot more complicated this year – there's probably 40 percent more drawings required to produce the car and therefore that many more parts to be made and tested. The effort that's gone in from the team behind the scenes has been quite outstanding – and when you think we only started our crash testing ten days ago, it's been a herculean effort by everyone in MK. To have a car here at the first test is an achievement in itself."
Adrian, meanwhile, confessed to a touch of nervousness. "I guess with the performance we had at the end of last year, we'd have been quite happy if the regulations hadn't changed," he said. "But this is the reality: Regulations should change from time to time. It's an equal opportunity for all of us. It's a fresh start with that slight nervousness and tenseness that comes from thinking about what everyone else has been up to. We know what we've done but not whether that's as good as the jobs done by other people."
The first day of testing rarely provides answers to that particular questions, but the pitlane was even less forthcoming than usual with very few laps completed by anyone. In the last few years it's been common to see new cars carrying over a lot of design elements from their predecessors. This year is different. Everything is new and, after build processes that went right to the wire, everyone was gingerly feeling their way with cautious installation laps followed by long periods in the garage.
Like several other teams, we were struggling to get any running in at all. We did have time to assemble the car back in Milton Keynes before coming out to the test but not much more than that. As such, testing was always likely to be limited in terms of track time, but an issue within the gearbox knocked the schedule back a bit further. Into the last half hour, with rain beginning to fall on the circuit, everything finally came together and Seb was able to jump into the RB10 and get out on track with 15 minutes of the day remaining. He did an installation lap and a few more on the Inters before the checkered flag came out – a reassuring way to end to the day and a good platform to get down to serious running tomorrow.