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Jerez Test 2014, Day Three: Red Bull stop early for the second day running

Ricciardo debut lasts just three laps; Red Bull cite "issues similar to yesterday's"; Magnussen fastest on first afternoon in McLaren

By Mike Wise.   Last Updated: 31/01/14 10:25am

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Day Three Report

The gap between Red Bull and their principal rivals widened on day three of testing at Jerez on Thursday, when the World Champions once again propped up the timesheets - and their pre-season problems appeared to intensify.

After Sebastian Vettel's own preparations stalled after he had completed a total of just 11 laps across the opening two days, hopes were high at Red Bull that the first appearance of new team-mate Daniel Ricciardo might also see them get their programme back on track.

If anything, though, it unravelled still further. With Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz looking on, Ricciardo's RB10 failed to make an appearance during the first three hours of morning running and when the Australian did finally take to the track, he lasted just seven corners before grinding to a halt.

With the red flags out, so was Ricciardo - the 24-year-old soon inspecting the rear of his car. He was sent out again about an hour later and managed to complete three installation laps in all. But he failed to set a time and by mid-afternoon Red Bull had called a halt to proceedings.

In a statement, they blamed "issues similar to yesterday's" - suggesting that the ERS battery on the new power unit supplied by Renault is still causing problems. The French manufacturer said it had worked on a fix overnight and although the teams it supplies are still clearly down on mileage compared to those with Mercedes and Ferrari power, the fact that Jean-Eric Vergne's Toro Rosso completed 30 laps on Thursday suggested that Red Bull, to an extent, are contributing to their own woes.

Difficult day: Red Bull team boss Christian Horner

The suspicion is that their packaging of the F1-2014 power unit is causing it to overheat; little wonder, then, that Red Bull Chief Technical Officer Adrian Newey left the track before the end of the day to fly home and oversee a hasty re-think.

While Red Bull, and to a lesser extent, the other Renault-supplied teams continue to find the going tough, it appears a different matter elsewhere in the pitlane. As has increasingly been noted, it's Mercedes who look to be stealing an early march, with cars powered by the German manufacturer occupying the top four places on the timesheets.

Kevin Magnussen took pride of place in P1 - just about as good a start as the McLaren rookie could have managed on his first day in the cockpit of their MP4-29. In fact, the Dane was only on track during the afternoon after the team decided to give Jenson Button more time to acclimatise in the morning.

Felipe Massa's first outing for Williams ended with him setting the second fastest time of the day ahead of Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes, with Button fourth. Next up was Fernando Alonso, the Spaniard also making his first appearance of 2014 and completing 55 laps for Ferrari.

Alonso's F14 T also stopped on track during the morning, as did the Force India of Nico Hulkenberg, who nevertheless finished the day sixth fastest. Vergne, Adrian Sutil (Sauber) and Robin Frijns (Caterham) were next up, while Marussia finally debuted their MR03, which appeared mid-afternoon and managed to complete five laps with Max Chilton behind the wheel.

He therefore ended the day ahead of Ricciardo in the order - clearly not where the World Champions would want to be.

Welcome back: Fernando Alonso

Of course, all the usual caveats about testing apply - all the more so in a period when teams and suppliers are learning about F1's new technology at an exponential rate. In such a state of flux, Red Bull and Renault's problems might not prove particularly profound. But for now they are on the back foot.

Jerez test, Day Three timesheet:
1. Kevin Magnussen, McLaren, 1:23.276, 52 laps
2. Felipe Massa, Williams, 1:23.700, 47 laps
3. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:23.952, 62 laps
4. Jenson Button, McLaren, 1:25.030, 40 laps
5. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 1:25.495, 58 laps
6. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, 1:26.096, 17 laps
7. Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso, 1:29.915, 30 laps
8. Adrian Sutil, Sauber, 1:30.161, 34 laps
9. Robin Frijns, Caterham, No time, 10 laps
10. Max Chilton, Marussia, No time, 5 laps
11. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, No time, 3 laps

Laps completed so far at Jerez:
Mercedes - 177 laps
Ferrari - 136 laps
McLaren - 135 laps
Red Bull - 14 laps

Laps by power unit supplier:
Mercedes - 466 laps
Ferrari - 201 laps
Renault - 81 laps

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.

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