Red Bull vs. Renault: engine dispute escalates

Red Bull
Red Bull vs. Renault
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D hat is no longer an argument, this is a solid marriage crisis. Sparks fly between Red Bull and its engine partner Renault. One word gives the other. From the outside, one would say: This is not a good basis for cooperation. Or maybe it's just a way to cut yourself off from Renault. In the absence of alternatives, Red Bull's direction can only point towards its own engine.

The season opener in Melbourne ended with a tangible disappointment for the four-time world champions. Daniel Ricciardo only ended up in sixth place. One lap behind the victorious Mercedes. Beat by Sauber driver Felipe Nasr. The Brazilian didn't even need luck. The explanation for the inexplicable is simple: Nasr was simply faster than Ricciardo.

Renault rewrote software after the test ended at

After the race, Red Bull's criticism of Renault broke out again. Team boss Christian Horner put everything on the engine and summarized: 'The new engine has no more power than the old one at the season finale in Abu Dhabi. It is difficult to drive and on top of that unreliable. The poorly distributed power forces us to compromise the car's setup. The drivers are surprised every lap because they don't know when the power comes and when not. In the end, that kills the tires. '

Team advisor Helmut Marko added:' Renault promises us miracles from their test benches , but they don't make it to the racetrack. Instead of progress, we see regression. With every new software you try, it gets worse. '

The background to this: After an engine failure on the last day of testing in Barcelona in the Max Verstappen's Toro Rosso made Renault nervous. In order to rule out further damage of this kind, the French rewrote the entire engine program in the two weeks leading up to the Australian GP. With the familiar consequences. The engine was still not bulletproof. Daniel Ricciardo's engine was already damaged after 48 kilometers.

For Newey, the engine is always to blame

Red Bull then presented Renault with a fait accompli. From the 19th week, all test bench runs will take place at AVL in Graz. At the expense of the team. In addition, Red Bull software specialists are responsible for programming the energy management. It is logical that this is not without consequences in Parisstayed. Many see it as a breach of trust. In the Red Bull camp it is said that the test stands in Viry-Chaltillon are no longer up to date.

Sports director Cyril Abiteboul wedged back in the French specialist magazine 'Auto Hebdo' and accused Red Bull of lying. The problems with drivability are also due to the car. There is no downforce in the rear. That's why the Red Bull is so nervous on the hindquarters. Abiteboul criticized technical director Adrian Newey: 'Adrian is a nice guy and an outstanding engineer, but he has always liked to blame the engine.'

Short nose not in the bag again

Abiteboul shot over the target with his aerodynamic scolding. This only applies to the previous year. The Red Bull was actually nervous on the hindquarters in fast corners. You had to reduce the angle of attack of the front wing in order to give the rear wing a better flow. This led to understeer in medium-fast and slow corners.

But Red Bull has now solved this problem. The poor traction is obviously due to the fact that the engine initially delivers full power and then stutters. Red Bull is also not entirely innocent of Melbourne's problems. Daniil Kvyat's gearbox damage on the lap on the grid was not, as claimed, due to the strong vibrations the engine produced. Rather, Red Bull had changed a part under parc fermé conditions and installed it incorrectly.

The attempt to homologate the short nose has also failed so far. The team has not made another attempt since the two failed crash tests off Melbourne. This means that the RB11 also competes with the longer nose in Malaysia, and the aero package that is matched to it remains in the warehouse. According to internal information, this should take at least half a second.

Red Bull orders its own VTT test bench

In its frustration with the engine failure, Red Bull has aggravated the software problem in Australia. Instead of sticking to the originally supplied engine maps like Toro Rosso and optimizing them, Red Bull asked for changes on Saturday and only rode their way deeper into the swamp. The Saturday software worked even less than the one on Friday.

From the winter test drives, however, we already knew that it would take at least two days of fine-tuning to remove the worst errors in the software. Because there is much less driving at a GP weekend than at a test, that is of course difficult.

The harsh tone of Red Bull, which now echoes from Renault, is surprising. Both have no alternatives. Renault would have to buy a team right now in order to find a new partner. And Red Bull would have to build the engine themselves, ifone would part with Renault. What may be being prepared. Ilmor presented its version of the Renault V6 turbo in February. The test bench runs at AVL will show whether this variant will be used in the second half of the season.

In addition, Red Bull has ordered its own VTT test bench. The Virtual Test Track allows engine test runs including gearbox in an original chassis. So far, only Mercedes, Honda and AVL have had such a monster in their halls. When asked why a team needs the most extreme form of an engine test bench for, there is really only one answer. You become an engine manufacturer yourself.


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