Red Bull a step closer to building engines

FeaturesFor those of you who live near Milton Keynes, a trip to the Red Bull factory estate in Tilbrook may provide some interest. Red bull have acquired a sizeable factory unit adjacent to their current premises, and for the past few months construction workers have been adding a couple of extra floors to the property.

Nothing strange there you may say, except for the fact that the floors are underground. A sizeable excavation akin to a giant archaeological dig has been taking place as the ground workers break up the huge concrete base on which the factory was built and extract hundreds of tons of the soil from beneath.

The word put out amongst the Red Bull employees, is that these endeavours are related to a rather large boat project.

It does though appear that Red Bull are pressing forward on many fronts. Despite recent petulant threats to quit Formula One, quite the reverse appears to be occurring behind the scenes.

AMuS have reported that Red Bull have recently ordered that the Renault engines be tested on a Virtual Test Track at the AVL facility in Graz.

Que? May well be your response.

Well, a virtual test track is a real-time vehicle simulator used for powertrain and chassis system development in a virtual environment.

“The VTT is designed and built based on the rapid control prototyping (RCP) concept. Therefore, different from the conventional vehicle simulator, the VTT can provide many additional benefits, such as ease of use, flexibility of interface with other devices, and ability to easily implement any hardware-in-the-loop system. The VTT consists of a powerful simulation engine to solve the equations of a complicated vehicle dynamics model in real-time and a sophisticated animation engine to provide real-time visual representation of vehicle behaviour. It also contains multiple virtual test environments with variable surfaces and weather conditions to provide different types of driving conditions”. (IEEE Explore)

This kind of highly complex modelling system is the engineering equivalent to an aerodynamicists’ CFD and wind tunnel combined. In the new Formula One, clearly the emphasis has shifted and now the mechanical combination of a chassis and engine in harmony is the key to success on track.

TJ13 has been informed that Red Bull are planning a facility like this of their own.

Whilst at present Red Bull and Renault feel they are forced together in a marriage of inconvenience, it is strange Red Bull is the one considering commissioning this kind of system – because this piece of kit is more likely to be found in the factory of a road car manufacturer and engine builder.

What is clear is that Renault are no longer prepared to be the whipping boys of the F1 partnership between themselves and Red Bull. Cyril Abiteboul has now upped the ante accusing Red Bull of lying and of refusing to accept their RB11 is contributing to the current problems.

In true boxing rhetoric, Cyril Abiteboul tweeted the following before he left for Sepang.

The gloves are off.


11 responses to “Red Bull a step closer to building engines

  1. “[…] now the mechanical combination of a chassis and engine in harmony is the key to success on track.”

    I stand to be corrected, but I suspect you misread “simulating engine” for “simulatED” engine. From the IEEE extract it looks all car-related, with the simulating engine a computational term and not referring to the power train 🙂

  2. If this is true then no doubt we’ll have another arms war of who can build the best (most expensive) VTT among the big teams, leaving the small teams even further behind.

    F1 should have banned simulators rather than testing on track and they should ban VTTs before they are ever used.

    • Yes, TJ13 is the only English site covering this big story, AFAIK. Everyone else is missing the big picture, and focusing on insults and pictures of boxing gloves. TJ13 is excellent for seeing the bigger picture.

      Interesting detail here on the big dig in MK, btw. I’ve not seen that elsewhere.

      Going back to the virtual test track (VTT), the Michael Schmidt AMuS article today indicates the difference of the VTT versus a normal F1 power unit bench testing is they install a power unit into a chassis, mate it up to a tranny (and drive line, I assume), and bench test the whole thing together.

      Where I’m confused, between this TJ13 article, and Michael Schmidt’s article on AMuS, and Tobias Gruner’s tweets today, is the locations and start date of the VTT. AMuS indicates Red Bull will start using AVL’s VVT in Graz, Austria in the 1st week of May. This TJ13 article, if I’m understanding it correctly, indicates they’re now already using a VTT in Graz. (My understanding of either article may be incorrect, candidly.)

      In any case, Michael Schmidt argues that a VTT is only of interest to an F1 power unit manufacturer. He claims that only Mercedes and Honda are using a VTT in F1 today. Tobias Gruner (of AMuS) confirmed on twitter that their sources indicate Ferrari is not using one.

      Michael Schmidt implies that Red Bull are interested in building their own power unit. He mentions that Red Bull in February brought in Ilmor Engineering and Mario Illien to help Renault tune the power unit, (I’m vague on that part, because machine translation is crap).

      Given the big dig in Milton Keynes next to RB’s headquarters, and the AMuS article, it appears that AVL are building a VTT for Red Bull at the AVL headquarters in Graz, Austria. AVL will then install a VTT at Milton Keynes once the RB building is ready for it.

      Despite Michael Schmidt’s speculation, I’m not convinced that Red Bull plan to build their own power unit. I suspect the VTT, would be just as valuable to a team who want to better tune their vendor power units, as it would be to a power unit manufacturer.

      The value of a VTT in laptimes could be huge. Being able to get better synchronization between the various systems in the chassis to work smoothly together would benefit:
      * braking
      *corner turn in
      * apex speeds
      * acceleration off of corner apexes, and
      * straight line accelerations.

      The value of that could be the same whether it was used by one team to do their own tuning, or by the power unit manufacturer to help all their teams with good quality PU tunes.

      I wonder if Red Bull will merely tune their Renault power units with their own VTT, (instead of building their own power units).

  3. So here cometh the Styrian Jackhammer courtesy of the Spice Boys… Oh how I hope it shall blow up in Honda style on the way to the grid in Melbourne!

  4. Great article. Btw, it’s “upping the ante”, not the “anti”. Although their constant bitching and moaning may very well up the number of anti redbull F1 fans!

  5. Makes me wonder if they’ve already agreed to split and we are just seeing a pantomime of PR taking place while Red Bull get ready to develop it’s own power units.

  6. No big deal. VTT is just a way of doing systems analysis, design, and set up in computer. With the additional capability of plugging in real hardware. Last year RBR/STR were using the physical version of this concept at AVL. This was covered here on tj13 in some detail; accusations of cheating. From day one of this new engine formula, Renault have had serious software problems, in relation to subsystems communicating. Last year it was reported that RB would take the lead in that area,according to tj13. I guess the raspberry pi wasn’t good enough. 😉

  7. Christian Horner has said manufacturing engines doesn’t fit well with selling cans. If the sales of the cans slow down, engine manufacturing is another revenue stream and it would increase the attractiveness of Red Bull Racing if Dietrich M would ever decide to leave Formula 1. I honestly think that Red Bull have reached their limit in regards to their partnership with Renault. A VTT would allow them to do the things that Renault have difficulty doing. It is my understanding that Renault where not happy with the Mario I. situation either. I think that it’s possible that Renault ends their partnership with Red Bull before the end of the season thus leaving them without an engine supplier. Red Bull could also rent out the VTT to other teams. Also, Adrian Newey is also helping Ben Ainslie with his America’s Cup entry. Ultimately, I think that it comes down to Red Bull will do what they think they have to catch Mercedes and be on top again because they don’t like losing but, they really don’t like losing to Mercedes.

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