Horner issues Renault quit threat

Brought to you by TheJudge13 contributor Fortis

At the start of the season when it became evident that the Renault power unit had made no significant gains on its rivals, leading to a war of words between Viry and Milton Keynes.

The rift became so great between the two former all conquering allies, it led to threats from those within the Red Bull hierarchy to quit the sport unless the rules on engine development was relaxed.

The day after the 2015 Canadian Grand Prix, Red Bull’s Christian Horner warned that Formula 1 risks driving Renault out of the sport, unless the engine development rules don’t change.

There has been a call from the engine manufacturers to allow in season development for 2016, though Mercedes alone is believed to be resisting this.

In season development this year has only been allowed due to an error by the FIA. They failed to put a closing date in the regulations by which the engines should be homologated. That error has been corrected for 2016 and any change would require unanimous agreement from the F1 engine manufacturers.

Further, Charlie Whiting has recently made it more difficult for the engine manufacturers to change unreliable components on their power units. Cyril Abiteboul recently commented, between the three engine suppliers in 2014 more than 50 of these ‘exception’ alterations to the engine designs had been agreed.

Mercedes currently argue that in-season engine development increases costs, though their competitive advantage is also neatly protected to a certain degree by freezing engines on February 28th 2016.

However, Honda and Renault who both are currently struggling, could be locked into an engine configuration for a whole season which put simply, ‘is just not at the races’.

The Red Bull team principle fears that such a scenario would be unacceptable for Renault and warns that Mercedes should do what is best for the sport of Formula One, and not block this rule change as they attempted to do for this year.

Asked if he felt Mercedes would back down from their stance on the issue, he replied, “they don’t have to obviously, but the situation is we are at a precarious point in terms of Renault’s commitment to the future.”

If you are effectively shutting that down in February, you are almost waving goodbye to them.

So [Mercedes] need to have a bit of a grown-up think about it. And the FIA as well to say what is in the best interests of F1.

If F1 can afford to lose an engine manufacturer, then stick to February 28.

The 2016 regulations state that engine designs will be frozen from February 28 next year, after which no further performance improvements will be allowed.

Horner reiterates that such an outcome would make it almost impossible for Renault to see a positive future in F1.

From Renault’s perspective, it is the worst thing for them,” he said. “Then, the engines are effectively frozen forever after.

If you have missed it by February 28, the scale of difference is unachievable in that timeframe.

So really as these regulations still are relatively immature, it would be sensible, as this year, to allow development in the season.

Yet Christian is clearly advocating something that improves Red Bull’s competitiveness, but was never agreed in the regulations. Renault accepted the no in season development rule when they were part of the working party designing regulations for the new V6 Turbo power units.

Further, will Renault really pull out? The after all were one of the main protagonists insisting on a new design and that the V8’s be consigned to history.

Renault have clearly been investigating the possibility of entering their own works team and Franz Tost recently revealed the French manufacturer has had preliminary talks to acquire Toro Rosso.

In a bizarre twist of F1 fate, it could be Red Bull who are out in the cold – or needing to do what McLaren did with Honda. It would then be in Red Bull’s interest to see in season engine development for their new power unit partner.

29 responses to “Horner issues Renault quit threat

  1. Does Horner realize or care that because he/RB completely agreed with the present rules sympathy for the team’s present predicament is scarce?

    • The current engine formula was agreed on by a committee of engine manufacturers (also including Ford and VW btw.). The teams were not involved in that.

      • “Renault accepted the no in season development rule when they were part of the working party designing regulations for the new V6 Turbo power units. ”

        I’m sorry, I don’t get what you’re saying.

  2. What did RB say when Cosworth left F1 – nothing
    What did RB say when HRT, then Caterham and Marussia left F1 – nothing.
    What has RB got to say about the financial problems of FI, Sauber and Marussia.
    Does Christian Horner think that anyone cares a jot about the problems facing RB? Should RB leave F1, it’ll be one less competitor for the other teams to beat and a bit more money for them to share.

  3. Haha literally LOL’ed at headline “Renault to seek performance improvement” on another site. I suppose that’s because their current strategy of whinging and moaning not as effective as hoped.

    That said as Mercedes has demonstrated, plenty is possible through reliability upgrades so situation not as dire as they are pretending

    • I was watching TK’s qualifying report and I’m sure I heard him say that the reliability changed Mercedes made, now allowed them to use more of the engine power for a much longer period. I think he said it was the input shaft they changed and as result, it increased the ‘engine knocking’, which also increased the power.

      Now I’ve got no idea what ‘engine knocking’ is, hopefully one of the commentators on here has some idea what that means and may offer an explanation.

      • @fortis96.. A simple explanation is a pre ignition of the fuel. If it detonates before the piston is in position it makes a metallic knocking sound in the engine (putting stress through the unit) my guess is with the shape of the heads and pistons they have been getting a diesel effect on the fuel,they are running the units at higher pressure this year and this could have been the problem(I am no expert in these newer units so its all guess work) I had a similar problem on a dfv engine but solved this once I got the fuel right

      • Increased the engine knocking (also called pinging, detonation etc)?! What?! That doesn’t sound right, Fortis… Usually knocking = trouble to varying degrees.

        Were they trying to DECREASE knocking with the reliability upgrade, which would give access to peak power for longer due to a reduced risk of knocking, and therefore major detonation. Getting rid of knocking has always been the priority for any engine in my racing career, bikes or cars.

        I could be wrong, but it doesn’t sound right.

        Perhaps it’s a different “knocking”. Or maybe as with bikes, to help driveability and traction, they mess around with the firing and timings deliberately… Anyway, let me know if you can. Curious.

      • fortis- the SkyF1 team reported the same during qualifying… and on the “knock” issue Paul di Resta provided an in-depth explanation (can be found on YouTube).

    • Matt, see paragraph 6 above. Charlie is making harder to push through reliability upgrades now. So improvements to power-plants after next February will be very difficult. Frankly, I think Mercedes should realize that there will be declining returns in F1 if all we get on Sundays is the Lewis and Nico show.

  4. That Renault is fucked till the end of this engine era (and Honda as well, but we have to wait a bit until maybe they can get things to cooperate) was pretty clear to most sane people after the first race of this year. Bit late to start about it now. I think I wrote elsewhere already that I doubted that Renault would be able to use all their tokens this year and by the time they might have, that they already would have to apply the 2016 tokens as well. In other words: that they would and will fail the 28 feb deadline. I guess Renault told RBR in Canada the same with an update on their update path. Probably people inside Renault have become aware that it makes no sense to run their own team if they cannot even get their own engine to run properly. So a STR or Manor buyout makes no sense for Renault as well. They have run out of time and they are fucked.
    And I think that even if you give Renault 2016 to develop, they will still fail to reach the 2017 deadline.

  5. What goes around comes around. When they were on top of the pile RB had no sympathy for struggling teams, nor did they care about the good of the sport. Mercedes are being just as arrogant now that they are on top, it will hopefully come back to bite them.

  6. “Renault accepted the no in season development rule when they were part of the working party designing regulations for the new V6 Turbo power units.”

    Accepted? They pushed for this in the first placed! They even made threats to quit (1) if F1 didn’t go for the hybrid Power Units and (2) if in-season development restrictions—à la what we have now—weren’t forced upon engine manufacturers, for costs reasons.

    It’s only funny how this all blew up in their face…

  7. Is there any actual evidence that CH is speaking on behalf of Renault? Or is this just more, predictable, Red Bull whinging dressed up as “for the good of the sport”?

  8. I hope they issue some kind of directive that means that the next time someone threatens to “quit F1” they’re tied to it.

  9. I have no love for Red Bull, but this is more than just Red Bull / Renault. Why would anyone want get into F1 or for that matter stay in F1 under the current engine regs? Unless you’re Merc or maybe Ferrari. What is Honda getting out of their return? So many folks seem to think the VW Group is ready to jump in, why would they? If you don’t hit it out of the park on your first try, you’re screwed. Real development is virtually frozen, there is almost no on track testing and when you do get a chance to change things in the off season, the changes you can make are limited. Its a poorly, poorly thought out solution to “cost controls” and is turning F1 into more of a joke. What Horner is saying is self-serving and hypocritical, but there is a degree of truth to it.

    • TJ13 reported long before the season started that Honda were significantly behind with their development of their engines. It sounds like either they just went about building it badly (which seems strange given they had a lot of info from the existing engines out there so weren’t starting from the blank canvas the existing suppliers were), or just massively underestimated/were complacent about what it would take.

      I can see the VW Group being in a better position to do it because they’re already racing extensively using various types of hybrid engines so have a lot of info to work with. In the WEC alone they’ve got multiple configurations which they could glean useful information from, let alone having the knowledge which is already out there from the current F1 engines.

      What I’m getting at is that “the Honda way” isn’t the only way of joining F1. Like when these new engines were brought in teams were working from the same regs but Mercedes managed to build something incredible whereas Renault managed to build something incredibly badly, a company joining now could go more down the Mercedes/”doing it right” route rather than the Renault/Honda/”doing it wrong” route.

      • Sure, VW “could” go down a path that leads to a Mercedes like engine. The VW group “could” find that some of their WEC tech transfers over. Or they “could” pump a couple hundred million dollars into a project that they get one shot at. If the result isn’t at a Mercedes level right out of the box, well, that’s to bad. Because you can’t really change anything, or test anything, or do anything but trundle around in the bottom half of the field and blow up engines. Thanks for joining our little car racing circuit, better luck in a couple of years when we completely change everything again and everyone gets to start from scratch. I can see where that would be more appealing than winning LeMans while spending less money.

        The rules have to be modified for F1 to be anything different than it is right now. Next year will be exactly the same as this year and last year without doing something. Allow in-season development and lock the engine formula in for the next 5 years. Keep the fuel flow restriction, but raise the limit. Or, keep things the same, watch the middle of the field shuffle around a bit and the Silver Arrows will win three in a row.

      • Honda, it’s known now, tried a vastly different engine component design (explained here? as well as in a Scarbs Report, and elsewhere) to further cool the PU with the hope of leading to a more succinct aero package (á la Mercedes). Unfortunately for all involved it hasn’t yet worked out. And at last report Alonso intimated that working out the PU kind would be a season-long project.

        As far as Renault’s problems, I’m still miffed at how they and RB missed the mark so badly.

        • @dwil

          As far as Renault’s problems, I’m still miffed at how they and RB missed the mark so badly.

          No mystery there, I’m afraid. Viry-Chatillon have few development funds from Renault HQ, and since losing two customers they have even fewer development funds. Since the Styrian Spice Boys seem more keen on bossing Renault around than actually providing them with much needed funds… well, there you go.

          • landroni- Wow. Ok, I get it now. RB proves themselves again to be in a sport to squeeze every penny they can from it through giving bare bones to it, all for “the wings.” And the moment they might have to commit people (and financial resources) to restructuring their initial plan, poof! They’re out and onto the next happy advertising hunting ground.

    • “So many folks seem to think the VW Group is ready to jump in, why would they? If you don’t hit it out of the park on your first try, you’re screwed.”

      And if you came out with a much better engine than the others and rules are changed to prevent you from winning “too much”, you are screwed too !

      So, wouldn’t this deter those thinking of jumping in too ?

    • “Why would anyone want get into F1 or for that matter stay in F1 under the current engine regs?”

      Or even start watching it on TV for that matter, especially considering how conservative the Mercedes drivers have to be all the time? Very good points.

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