At full tilt in a straight line, this year's formula one cars emit a much tamer sound than the class of 2013.
However, the top speeds of the new turbo V6s are significantly higher, thanks to reduced downforce and an impressive engine-plus-ERS maximum of almost 900 horse power.
In Nico Rosberg's hands, the currently dominant new W05 Mercedes is almost as quick over a full lap as the German's pole of 2013.
Cornering speeds are lower, but at full speed, the cars are much faster -- Fernando Alonso's 2014 Ferrari clocked 336kph in Bahrain, compared to a top speed of 314 during the island Kingdom's grand prix last year.
"We are incredibly fast on the straights," German Rosberg told Auto Motor und Sport. "I would guess that at Monza we will be doing 360."
That may not be the case for the entire field, however. The fastest of the struggling Renault-powered cars in Bahrain clocked a top of just 308kph -- slower than 2013.
And world champion Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull was 7kph slower even than that.
So it's a particularly challenging time for a team like Caterham, struggling not only with the troubled Renault V6 but also a small budget amid the enormous and expensive technical revolution.
"Currently we are not on formula one level," Kamui Kobayashi, 10 seconds off the pace on Saturday, is quoted by Speed Week. "It's more GP2 level.
"We have so many problems with the car and the times are incredibly slow," said the Japanese.
"When you look at what Mercedes is doing, it's overwhelming, but it also shows us what is possible and in what direction we need to develop."
Manager denies Schu awakening efforts stopped
Michael Schumacher's manager on Monday denied reports doctors have stopped trying to end the seven time world champion's long coma.
The latest edition of the German newsmagazine Focus, which is said to be close to Schumacher's inner circle, said "complications" had led the doctors at the Grenoble hospital to abandon efforts - which began almost four weeks ago - to wake the former Ferrari and Mercedes driver.
"This (awakening) phase can take a long time, which much to our regret can lead to many misinterpretations," Schumacher's manager Kehm told the German news agency DPA.
Kehm, insisting that only official medical updates could be trusted, clarified that the status of 45-year-old Schumacher's recovery was "unchanged".
Red Bull still in crisis as Mercedes streaks ahead
With only four days of track running now left until Melbourne, a clear trend is emerging.
Defending champions Red Bull are in major trouble, and the works Mercedes team is leading the way.
In the silver W05, Nico Rosberg ended the first week of Bahrain testing on Saturday with a stunning laptime, less than 1 second off his 2013 pole.
And it emerges that the German, practicing qualifying, was using only the 'soft' tyre, not the faster 'super-soft' that has also been in action by other teams in Bahrain.
At the same time, despite earlier signs of recovery, Red Bull's problems with the Renault-powered RB10 persist.
Daniel Ricciardo, who managed a meagre 15 laps, was almost 7 seconds off the pace as the Bahrain test wrapped up on Saturday.
"The challenge is to improve the rate of progress," engine supplier Renault's Rob White said, "because the gap to where we wanted to be at this stage remains substantial."
With the FIA's engine development freeze deadline now just days away, White admitted Renault is "weeks" behind its rivals.
Red Bull's problems, meanwhile, are even deeper. The similarly Renault-powered Lotus has been faster, and on Saturday managed four times as many laps as the RB10.
"I think we could be the lead Renault team," Lotus technical boss Nick Chester said. Of the four Renault-powered teams, only Lotus' black E22 does not feature a Red Bull gearbox.
But none of them are likely to be in the running for Melbourne spoils.
"The strongest teams out there are the Mercedes-powered teams," Mercedes' Paddy Lowe told Sky.
"The Ferrari is also looking strong, so those are the people we are watching and trying to measure against."
Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen ended his Bahrain week with a crash, and according to the German news agency SID he said the F14-T is "not bad".
"The Mercedes powered teams have gone well here," he admitted, "but we were doing our own programme. It won't get serious until Melbourne.
"The reliability of our car has been ok," Raikkonen is quoted by Finland's Turun Sanomat, "but in terms of speed I do not know what's going on."
Also fairly confident is Jenson Button, who told reporters that after McLaren's disastrous 2013 season, "We're in a reasonable position but you would also like to be faster.
"We know we don't have the fastest car," he is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport, "but we also know that we are not slow."
Button agreed that Mercedes' works team currently appears the fastest.
"I already have a good idea of who will be on pole in Melbourne," he said, "but you couldn't say who will win the championship."
Right now, not too many bets are being placed on Red Bull.
But Mercedes' Rosberg insisted: "It doesn't mean they won't recover. What it does mean is that (Red Bull) winning again this year is likely to be a far bigger challenge than the previous four."
Teams agree qualifying tweaks for 2014
F1's eleven teams have agreed on a revised qualifying format for 2014.
Recently, we reported that at a meeting at the first Bahrain test, the sport's major players would move to ensure qualifying is exciting in the new V6 era.
Among other tweaks, we said bosses would be presented with a proposal for an extra set of soft tyres for those in the final 'Q3' hitout, while drivers only in Q2 would get an extra set for the race.
Germany's Auto Motor und Sport reports that after the teams gave the proposal the green light, it will now be sent to the World Motor Sport Council for the rubber stamp.
"It could be fixed in black and white by the end of the week," said veteran correspondent Michael Schmidt.
Schmidt said the new format will undoubtedly survive the final throes of the approval process, because it was devised by none other than CVC bigwig Donald Mackenzie.
Ecclestone wants Russia night race
Bernie Ecclestone wants the Russian grand prix to be held at night.
The inaugural event at winter olympics venue Sochi this year, however, will be a normal day race.
But The Times said F1's chief executive wants the floodlit roofs of the olympic stadium and ice rinks to provide the backdrop for the race in future.
"The idea is a clever one," said correspondent Kevin Eason, "given that the olympic park looks more like a vast car park than a picturesque sports arena in daylight."
Ecclestone confirmed: "I think they would go for the idea.
"At night the stadiums are very colourful with lots of lights and the backdrop to a race would be fantastic.
"It (the surrounding area) was a bit of dump, quite honestly," he admitted. "But they have spent a lot of money and there is a lot going on and the place is changing all the time."
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