Evidence mounts that the Renault engine mapping fiasco is hurting Red Bull and Lotus

A Quick look at how much each team managed to extract from 2013 pre-season testing

Team Total Testing Laps

1. Sauber 1161 laps
2. Mercedes 1095 laps
3. Ferrari 1068 laps
4. Red Bull Racing 1008 laps
5. McLaren 1008 laps
6. Caterham 985 laps
7. Sahara Force India 980 laps
8. Toro Rosso 960 laps
9. Marussia 798 laps
10. Lotus 770 laps
11. Williams – FW35 666 laps
12. Williams – FW34 305 laps

Driver Total Testing Laps

1. Esteban Gutierrez Mexico Sauber-Ferrari 607 laps
2. Nico Rosberg Germany Mercedes-Mercedes 572 laps
3. Nico Hulkenberg Germany Sauber-Ferrari 554 laps
4. Paul di Resta Britain Force India-Mercedes 553 laps
5. Sergio Perez Mexico McLaren-Mercedes 553 laps 
6. Max Chilton Britain Marussia-Cosworth 550 laps
7. Jean-Eric Vergne France Toro Rosso-Ferrari 536 laps
8. Lewis Hamilton Britain Mercedes-Mercedes 523 laps
9. Charles Pic France Caterham-Renault 516 laps
10. Valtteri Bottas Finland Williams-Renault 513 laps
11. Sebastian Vettel Germany Red Bull-Renault 513 laps
12. Felipe Massa Brazil Ferrari-Ferrari 513 laps
13. Fernando Alonso Spain Ferrari-Ferrari 505 laps
14. Mark Webber Australia Red Bull-Renault 495 laps
15. Romain Grosjean France Lotus-Renault 495 laps
16. Giedo van der Garde Holland Caterham-Renault 469 laps
17. Pastor Maldonado Venezuela Williams-Renault 458 laps
18. Jenson Button Britain McLaren-Mercedes 455 laps
19. Daniel Ricciardo Australia Toro Rosso-Ferrari 424 laps
20. Kimi Raikkonen Finland Lotus-Renault 259 laps
21. Jules Bianchi France Marussia-Cosworth 253 laps *
22. Adrian Sutil Germany Force India-Mercedes 249 laps
23. Luiz Razia Brazil Marussia-Cosworth 112 laps
24. James Rossiter Britain Force India-Mercedes 61 laps
25. Pedro de la Rosa Spain Ferrari-Ferrari 50 laps
26. Davide Valsecchi Italy Lotus-Renault 16 laps


Gutierrez studies times

Gutierrez studies times

Sauber have been quietly going about their business and on the whole had a car that is reliable, with Esteban getting exactly what he needed – more miles under his belt than any other driver in the pre-season tests. Given the inclement weather the No. of laps the busiest teams achieved is not far from the target mark of 100 laps per day average over the entire schedule.

Most people have not noticed and neither has there been anything I can see in the media, but this year testing days were reduced by agreement amongst the teams from previous 15 down to 12.

Kimi appears to be the big loser here, with Adrian Sutil and Bianchi who were only announced late achieving similar mileage as the former world champion. 8 drivers completed double the number of laps that Kimi managed and though he can learn a new track without using the simulator, getting the feeling and understanding the car pre-season is vital for any driver and will possibly hurt Kimi’s ability to perform at his best.

Rossberg in testing

Rossberg in testing

Mercedes recovered their lack of running in testing 1&2 by delivering nearly 500 laps for Lewis and Nico, whilst Red Bull were clearly disappointed with just over 300 laps.

Whatever you think about sand bagging, this is not what Newey et al would have wanted. They test a lot of components for later in the year and the lack of running last week in Barcelona may hinder their development programme somewhat further down the line.

There is definitely something amis, but what exactly?

Team Barcelona 2 testing laps

1. Mercedes 481 laps
2. Ferrari 428 laps
3. McLaren 395 laps
4. Sauber 388 laps
5. Caterham 373 laps
6. Sahara Force India 340 laps
7. Marussia 338 laps
8. Toro Rosso 325 laps
9. Red Bull Racing 314 laps
10. Williams 298 laps
11. Lotus 252 laps

FIA rule clarification

We’ve discussed before the Renault cock-up/trying it on over the engine mapping regulations. For those who missed it, here’s a quick review of the situation.

Approaching the mid summer break, the FIA ruled against Renault who were operating different engine configurations at different circuits to improve the blowing of exhaust gasses into vital regions at the rear of the car. They had a ‘clever’ interpretation of the ‘each engine must have a base line configuratio’ rule and was allowed to vary slightly from that base line’.

untitledRenault had been creating new and quite different base line engine configurations for each weekend – thus allowing them far more freedom than the other manufacturers. Rpaco or Somers will correct me if I’m wrong in the detail, but that was the gist of the ruling.

To stop Renault being allowed to optimise the engines for the next few races, the FIA instructed the engine manufacturers/teams to pick 1 engine configuration from the 1st 4 races of 2012 and use this ‘map’ as the base line – from there they could deviate engine configuration within slight parameters.

A cunning plan? or silly mistake?

Renault decided they would be clever/stupid this winter and by clever engine mapping again offer their customers ingenious ways to blow exhaust gasses onto the diffuser and assist stability under braking. They claim they naturally believed that 4 new engine maps for the first 4 races of 2013 was allowable and then argued this process of select 1 of these maps as a base line going forward was enshrined in last years ruling.

It wasn’t, because the FIA’s methodology to enforce one base line engine map was a retrospective fix of Renault’s naughty activities. Therefore the base line engine configuration the teams were instructed to select August 2012 remains the one they can use in 2013.

untitledThe FIA clarification of this position only became clear during Barcelona test 2. Red Bull and Williams have said little or nothing on the matter, however James Alison of Lotus commented, “We were experimenting in testing, on the last day of the last test [Barca 2], with an engine map and we explained to the FIA what we were doing. But having run it on the track we found it did not work very well anyway. We learned from the FIA that they were not so happy with what we proposed, so we are not doing it.”

Aah, so the engine maps were rubbish anyway James?

Renault teams designs flawed by engine mapping mistakes

Ross Brawn chirped in suggesting the FIA clarification would hurt the Renault teams hard and leave their development plans for the season up ‘a dead end’. His comments were described as ‘complete nonsense’ by Alan Permane, Lotus trackside operations manager.

Alan attempts  to persuade us that Ross hasn’t got a clue what he’s talking about and that the new Renault engine maps – designed with weeks and weeks of R&D investment – were in fact useless. He persists, “Kimi hated them” and “they were not what we want” and they “served no purpose”. Alright… alright Alan – we hear you.

Is it me or are there some very touchy people out there at present?

untitledRegardless of James Alison and Alan Permane’s protestations, this left Red Bull, Lotus and Williams scrabbling around having to re-design some fairly important parts of the car. They had just 5 or 6 days before the final test in Barcelona began. Indeed (I can’t find pics – sorry), all the Renault teams arrived with revised bodywork/exhaust configurations which all looked fairly similar. The packaging and rear panels were remarkably like those used by Red Bull used in 2012, whilst the rest of the teams have moved on.


If you look at the table above, which 3 teams ran the least in Barcelona? Coincidence? Mmm. Even Marko admitted that Red Bull were having problems getting the car properly balanced during the final test. “We have problems with balance. The car can not be set up properly.” This was a change of tune from the week before.

If the car has less stability now in the braking phase due to less downforce than prior to the illegal Renault maps ruling, by definition it becomes harder to set the car up. Vettel as we humorously reported yesterday was harping on almost obsessively about the tyres.

When asked how he felt his final day’s testing had gone, Vettel reflected “Overall, the tests were good for us, but we could. have liked more consistency, especially with the tyres where I think all teams had the same problems. In all three tests we were dependent on what the tyres would allow us to do. It was very difficult to understand changes to the setup and find the right one. So you have to trust the car because the tyres were not good enough. ”

untitledVettel’s claim that this must be an issue for everyone sounds a little hollow as there has not been this level of complaint about the tyres from the other teams.

He was then asked what more he would like to have achieved, Vettel responded “We would like to continue working on setup, but that the tyres would not allow it”. The areas for improvement are apparently difficult to identify as Vettel said, “It is very difficult to determine the exact area, because the tyres were not good enough. On the last two days the weather was very good, blue sky, sunshine.. and it was not particularly cold. The asphalt was also quite good, but the tyres were still bad.”

Sebastian concedes the car requires more development and soon yet strangely repeats they cannot achieve this until they “better understand how the new car behaves. “ Is it the case that Newey and co. need to make a major change to the RB9? Their ambassador, Helmut Marko in typical bullish (or Pinscheresque) form, dismisses the matter saying, “it isn’t over until the fat lady sings”.

Quote Discussion: Which team principal said this and why. “It makes no sense to analyse the situation”.

Judge13 TV

Check out our TJ13 YouTube TV channel there’s regularly stuff going up there. I like the one Usher found on Sauber’s pit stop 🙂

18 responses to “Evidence mounts that the Renault engine mapping fiasco is hurting Red Bull and Lotus

  1. “Even Marko admitted that Red Bull were having problems getting the car properly balanced during the final test.”

    Yet Martin Brundle claimed at Barcelona the Red Bull looked like it was running on rails.

    Watching out on the circuit, the Red Bull looks very strong – Gary Anderson

    “but also it shows that they are confident their basic car is fast enough to compete in Melbourne” Mark Gillan

    The engine map issue is to me a bit of a red herring. Red Bull and the other Renault powered teams have been using the map they have to use this season since last August and know how it performs. Sounds like a storm in a teacup

  2. Is it just me that wonders that Newey cars have a fundamental advantage when rules are pushed to the absolute limits?
    I remember the Williams cars always pushing the spirit of the rules such as the driver head protection introduced for 1996. All other teams had followed the rules to the letter.
    Mclaren with their 4th pedal and engines built using Berylium which when banned caused Mercedes engines more problems than anyone else.
    I read an article recently about Lowe’s gardening leave and how when Newey joined Mclaren, as soon as his was finished the Mclarens sported brand new wing designs, something that wasn’t possible within the time frame.
    All the years at Mclaren achieved very little for the Newey legacy yet at RBR, rules have been broken repeatedly and the FIA bans them after a race result. The most contentious issue of the last 2 seasons has been the policing of the RRA, to the point that Ferrari withdrew because of an unlevel playing field.
    I hope this engine mapping has affected them. Despite anything else, Vettel doesn’t dominate Webber when the playing field is level.

    • “All the years at Mclaren achieved very little for the Newey legacy”

      Two driver’s WC’s is achieving little?

      • Newey is often claimed to be the greatest designer of the last 20 odd years.
        Whilst at Williams, his cars won 9 championships, drivers and constructors, between 1991-1997
        At Mclaren, that figure drops to 3, from mid 1997 to 2005.
        At Red Bull, once the team had been built up properly, he has won 6.

        I’m not suggesting that he wasn’t a winner at Mclaren, but Ferrari, Todt, Schumacher, Brawn and Byrne beat him comprehensively.

        Maybe something in the Mclaren setup doesn’t promote free thinking

    • Not just Newey but all designers have to go to the sharp edge of the rules and see if there are any nicks crevices or exploitable holes in them, any areas not specifically tied down. I will state yet again, there is no “spirit of the rules,” only the letter.
      It is the duty of all designers to push the rules as far as they can get away with, because someone else may see what you missed and gain an advantage, then you are not doing the best possible job for the team.

      Now when the rules are being written or revised as they are every year, sometimes more than once, it is normal to include any extra rules or definitions that were issued in the season before or in the current season, the rules have to be approved by the FIA commission but since they were last released in December 2012 after the season finished if any extra rules on engine maps were needed they could have been included then. Admittedly the engine map rules seem unnecessarily clumsy and lengthy as it is, but the opportunity was there to add the map limit imposed on the fly last season, but it was not done. Charlie’s new claim that all “clarifications” and temporary rules apply regardless for ever unless repealed is one which the teams would be very justified in fighting, since it basically excuses slack and inefficient organisation, it is the F1 equivalent of “mission creep”.

  3. I have some sympathy for Renault as Charlie seems to be making it up as he goes along this year. Normally I think he does a very difficult job extremely well. But this year he has made some seemingly arbitrary decisions and issued clarifications that had ample time to have been included in the rules had the tech working group wanted them in.

    • I think Caterham and Williams have both been fortunate to be told their exhausts are against the rules so early.
      For the same reason, RBR, Lotus and all Renault customers should send gratitude to being informed so early.
      They could have arrived in Melbourne and had to make changes there.

  4. Hi judge,

    Do you imply that RBR are in trouble because they have to use the same mappings and exhaust that were dominant during the 2nd half of `12?


  5. “Renault working very hard today to ‘overturn’ mapping ruling – why?”
    Maybe the current engines will overheat if not blowing off throttle.
    Maybe also they have two customers who designed cars specifically to use blown floor effects.
    Maybe they are a bit nervous that Honda are re-entering in 2014 with engines for McLaren. Obviously other customers will be required too. Renault is the largest engine supplier in F1, hence stands to loose the greatest percentage of it’s customers in 2014 thus wants to ensure success and loyalty (if you believe in such a thing) by th end of this season. Of course the LMS may well also be using the same engines which will help Honda, but I am surprised not to have heard of and LMS involvement for Renault yet. Ferrari may wake up soon too and realise that LMS is really much closed to their car market than F1.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.