Renault Sport F1’s CEO, Cyril Abiteboul, came out swinging following Christian Horner and Helmut Marko’s violent criticism of Renault in Melbourne. We reported first in English last Wednesday that Renault had been forced to allow Red Bull to use an engine for the Australian GP which had not been properly cycled through Renault’s regular tests.
“If you have an engine failure after 50km, that is incomprehensible,” fumed Marko after Daniel Ricciardo’s engine failed on Saturday. “With all the engines, driveability is significantly worse than in testing. We wanted an improvement and we have taken a step back.”
TJ13 has learned that part of the motivation to bring forward this iteration of the engine was that Red Bull wanted more development tokens deployed before the FIA did their count. The average number of ‘unused development tokens’ across the three 2014 F1 engine manufacturers would be the number of development tokens Honda would be allowed to use developing their engine during the 2015 season.
“Renault has revealed that it may tactically delay using Formula 1 engine development tokens early this season in a bid to make bigger gains for 2016,” reported Jonathan Noble in February.
At that time Cyril Abiteboul explained Renault planned to take a longer term view of their engine development because their contract with Red Bull runs to the end of next season.
“Even though we have two years of partnership to go before hopefully there is a renewal, we need to maximise the value of money from the token allocation that we have,” commented the Renault boss.
“I think that there is a bit of strategic thinking to employ for this decision and therefore for the in-season development strategy for 2015… and do the right thing, not only for 2015 but also for 2016,” he said.
Red Bull were clearly not happy with this approach, so engines not properly bench tested were run in Melbourne with the result that Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen have just 3 engines left each for the next 18 races.
Despite Red Bull’s insistence that more tokens were deployed on the engine run in Australia, Renault still have the most ‘unused development tokens’ for this year with 12. Ferrari have 10 and Mercedes have 7 leaving Honda with 9 for the remainder of this year.
Last week Christian Horner went to great lengths to lay the blame for his team’s current plight squarely at Renault’s door. There had been some observation that Toro Rosso weren’t hurting the same as Red Bull from the Renault power train and suggestions made that maybe the RB11 was part of the problem.
“They [Toro Rosso] are struggling the same amount,” insisted Horner. “It’s just having a more dramatic on our car, at the end of the day. I think it [the engine problems] masks so many things regarding corner entry and corner exit, degradation and slip control of the tyre.
“You are not able to drive the car properly, so you start moving the brake balance around to try to compensate, so you are so far away from the optimum. Then you start to lose temperature in the brakes and then the tyres are not working as it should”.
After a year of silence, it appears CRenault have had enough criticism from their ‘works’ partner and Cyril Abiteboul looks to be up for a fight. Today, he again hits out at Red Bull and in particular their guru designer Adrian Newey. Speaking to AutoHebdo, Abiteboul states, “Red Bull have some chassis problems that do not help the situation, in particular their lack of rear stability”.
The French reporter then asked whether it is difficult to listen to Adrian Newey consistently stating the problem is with the engine and not the car.
“Yes,” retorted Abiteboul. It’s difficult when your partner lies. Adrian is a charming gentleman and an outstanding engineer, but he has spent his life criticising his engine manufactures. He is too old to change”.
If we thought the blood in Maranello ran deep and wide last year – watch this space. Then again, maybe if you stand up to a bully – they back down.