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New F1 catching up with V8 era

2014-02-21 12:15

NOT SO SLOW: Fears that the new V6 engines were slowing down F1 seem be subsiding as McLaren's Kevin Magnussen made a fast lap just five seconds off Nico Rosberg's 2013 Bahrain GP time during testing in Sakhir. Image: AFP

SAKHIR, Bahrain - Fears that 2014 Formula 1 cars would be slower than second-tier GP2 machines have been erased with the turbo V6 cars' performances in Bahrain testing.

After the opening test of the new V6 'power unit' era at Jerez recently Jenson Button warned that GP2 would run close to F1 on some circuits in 2014 but in Bahrain on Feb 20 Button's rookie team mate Kevin Magnussen surprised the paddock with a best lap of just under 1m35 - a shade over 2.5sec shy of Nico Rosberg's V8-powered pole for the 2013 Bahrain GP.


Magnussen told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport: "I never believed we would be just a few seconds slower than 2013. It won't be too long until we have caught up with the old F1."

Williams' Valtteri Bottas agreed: "By the end of 2014 we will be at 2013 pace - for sure we are not as slow as GP2!"

Many paddock people are now wondering about the pace the Mercedes cars might reach if, like Magnussen's McLaren - they pushed hard with a fresh set of super-soft tyres. Mercedes has reportedly been running with  medium tyres because the squad did not ask Pirelli to supply the softest in its range, rubber used in competition in Bahrain.

Team chairman Niki Lauda, however, was now curious. "A test is there for testing, to see the whole picture. You have to know what you can do on each tyre and I would like to know if we could do the Magnussen time on the super-soft tyre."

Force India's Nico Hulkenberg, second fastest on Thursday but 1.5sec slower than Magnussen, said he was not surprised that the 'new' F1 was already catching up to the V8 era.

He told Speed Week: "No matter what rule changes, the engineers always manage to make up lost time. And, we are only at the very beginning..."

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