DANIEL Ricciardo might be wishing he had a set of chains at the ready when he hops back into the new Red Bull for his second day of Formula 1 testing.
A cold snap in Spain sent the mercury plummeting at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya this week, with snow falling at the end of the second day on Tuesday.
“It’s insane,” he told foxsports.com.au.
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“Normally I’ll go and have a bit of a look (at the cars on track), but it was like two degrees or something today. Look, I love F1 but I’m not standing out in two degrees to see Vettel or someone drive through a chicane!
“They’re expecting maybe even 10 centimetres of snow overnight. I’m not sure how much testing I’ll get done …”
The extreme cold snap has highlighted a burning problem with F1’s current preseason testing regimen.
Teams are allowed just eight days of testing prior to the Australian Grand Prix in March, set in two blocks of four days. Both tests are being held in Barcelona this year, while fellow Spanish circuit Jerez has also been used for pre-season running in recent years.
The problem is that the weather in Spain — in Europe, really — in February is wildly unrepresentative of the conditions teams will face during the championship, whose races are held mostly during spring and summer around the world.
When asked by foxsports.com.au if F1 needed to take a look at testing in warmer climates, Ricciardo said: “Absolutely.
“I think it was maybe 2014 we went to Bahrain and I thought it was perfect, and then they cancelled that from 2015 onwards. I was pretty vocal about it.
“Obviously Barcelona’s logistically easier and cheaper, but I think it works out to be more expensive because we don’t learn anything as far as understanding (the car).
“I don’t know, it’s just a bit of a waste. I know I’m not the only one, but I feel like, even what we learn here, when we come back in May it’s 30 degrees hotter and it’s all pretty much irrelevant.
“It’s kind of frustrating because we’ve only got a limited amount of testing in the first place, and when you’re just barely keeping the car on track because it’s so cold it does seem pretty wasteful.”
The new Red Bull was the star of the opening day of running on Monday.
While Ricciardo wasn’t reading too much into finishing the day with the fastest time — “It’s better than seeing it down in eighth or something, so I’ll take it!” – he believes the amount of running the car completed vindicated Red Bull’s decision to focus on completing the design and build of the car earlier than in years past.
“I think it’s definitely worked well for us,” he said. “We did 100 laps and I don’t think they’d done that in a long time on Day 1 of a test.
“If the weather was dry and warm all day I think we would’ve probably hit more like 130, so we were limited a bit more by weather than reliability, so that was really good.
“Having that filming day last week, even in the morning, the first few runs, we got a few problems out of the way and learnt a few things about the car already.
“That saved us a couple of hours here in Barcelona, so that was important to get that done.”
But the best news of all: Ricciardo said the feeling he’s getting from new RB14 is well ahead of where the RB13 was in the opening test of 2017.
“I would say a big step from this time last year. It certainly feels more together,” he said.
“I remember this time last year there were little pockets in some corners where there would be some decent feeling, but it was a little bit disjointed.
“Already this year it just feels a lot more together and a lot more balanced, so that was a good sign. Pretty solid from that point of view.
“A bit of an evolution from the end of last year, but good early signs for sure and I think it’s a good platform for us now.”