#F1 Forensics: Red Bull and Stepchild, The Redhead


Brought to you by TheJudge13 contributor Tourdog 

(This article relates to pre-Austria changes)

The metaphor only occurred to me as I was writing this, but it fits perfectly. Toro Rosso are “part of the Red Bull family”, but always kept at arms length. They get the Red Bull hand-me-downs. Any toy TR has that RB likes, RB takes. Toro Rosso even has red wings on top of their cars. Perfect.

There is one positive Renault and Red Bull can take from everything we have learned. At Least they don’t have the worst package. In fact, you could argue that they don’t have the second worst one either, but as I have discussed before, Manor doesn’t count, and Renault still might have the worst Internal Combustion Engine

So, how bad is it? Lets look at gearboxes, good news first and all that..

We have a wonderful example of how the regulations effect teams in different ways before the first official race lap of the season is even run. Remember Bottas. He was not allowed to run in Australia because of his back. So Bottas was not a part of the official starter list, and this prevented him from doing a free gearbox change before the second race. Well, now we have Kvyat and Verstappen. They were part of the official start list, but as you might remember, neither one actually started the race. They never made it to the starting boxes, yet they were allowed to change out their gearboxes free of penalty before race two.

The Plethora of DNF’s has allowed a multitude of Gearbox changes for the two teams.

Ricciardo is the only Renault powered driver to finish every race (just barely), and is therefore the only driver to go 6 races on a gearbox. He changed to #2 before Canada, and is on the same replacement schedule as the leaders. So barring a DNF, he will have a new gearbox in Abu Dhabi.

Sainz has done the next fewest changes. He finished the first three races, but retired in Bahrain. This gave him a free change in Spain, which he took. He has finished the next three races, so he remains on Gearbox #2, and Austria will be its fourth race.

Kvyat and Verstappen have mirrored each other so lets look at them together.

As I said they both failed to start in Australia, and both changed gearboxes in Malaysia.

They both finished Malaysia, and kept gearbox 2 for China. They both failed to finish in China, and changed to gearbox 3 in Bahrain. Kvyat finished the next four races, through Canada. He should remain on Gearbox #3 in Austria. Verstappen finished Bahrain and Spain, keeping gearbox #3 through Monaco. The crash in the closing stages of Monaco gave him a DNF, so he changed to gearbox 4 before Canada.

If Kvyat finishes every race for the rest of the season, he will still use 5 gearboxes. Verstappen is on pace to use 6, but ironically his sixth would come at the last race, just like the leaders. Of course the chances that the Renault PU will finish every race in all 4 cars are pretty low, so expect the number of gearboxes to go up in direct proportion to the DNF’s.

Ricciardo has proven that the RB gearbox is capable of going 6 races. The large majority if not all of the changes that have happened so far for the others have been because they can, not because they needed to. Still I project the total number of gearboxes to be used by the two teams this year to be at least 19.

red bull gearbox summary specific --june 18 --(ver 5.0)



Renaults Power Unit has not fared as well. In the process of writing this summary, I have reviewed my data yet again, and realized that there was a mistake. Ricciardo did not change to his 2nd ICE before the second race, but before the first. In fact, Daniel replaced the ICE, MGU-K, MGU-H, and Turbo Charger before qualifying in Australia. So, 66% of Ricciardo’s first power unit made it a grand total of …..

10 laps, or 53 km.

Kvyat by comparison, went nearly 6 times further, a whole 344 km in Australia before catastrophic failure on the formation lap. So Kvyat changed out the ICE and CE before Malaysia, Ricciardo kept most of PU#2 for Malaysia as well. Both drivers finished Malaysia, Ricciardo finished in China, but Kvyat only made it 16 laps in the race. Both drivers changed to ICE #3 at race 4 in Bahrain.

Despite finishing in Bahrain, Ricciardo changed to ICE #4 before Spain. Kvyat should have, because #3 failed during practice, and the change-out limited Kvyat to 7 laps in FP3. So both RB drivers started the fifth race on their 4th ICE.

ICE #4 remained in both cars through Monaco and Canada, gaining nearly the most distance of any ICE’s Renault had run so far. Post Canada Ricciardo had amassed 1,828 Km and Kvyat 1,755 Km. That may be it for #4 however. It appears RB will install ICE #5 for both drivers in Austria this week, relegating them back 10 grid positions for the race start.

renault specific ICE pdf --june 18--(ver 5.0)



Carlos Sainz over at Toro Rosso is not doing much better. ICE #1 made it 2 races before being replaced prior to China. ICE #2 made it through a finish in China, and a DNF 29 laps into Bahrain. TR tried to use it a third time in Spain, but the ICE failed after Fridays Free Practice sessions, and they were forced to install ICE #3 for Qualifying and race. ICE #3 remains in the car, having covered 1887 Km at this point. That distance is the current record holder for longest covered by a Renault ICE, narrowly beating Ricciardo’s 2nd ICE by 10 Km. Sainz needs this Engine to get at least through Silverstone. Even then he will have at least 1 penalty for using a 5th ICE, any more failures this season and Sainz is pretty much guaranteed to use 6.

Max Verstappen is by far the worst off in the Renault situation. A DNS in Australia limited Power Unit #1’s distance the first weekend so Max kept the same PU in Malaysia.

Both he and Sainz changed to ICE #2 prior to China. Max went most of the way in China, 52 of 56 laps, and then made it another 270 Km in Free Practice at Bahrain before #2 bit the big one. ICE #3 made it through the race in Bahrain, and Friday practice in Spain before it too was replaced with ICE #4. ICE #4 managed to complete the race in Spain, and the entire race weekend in Monaco, but before Canada Toro Rosso changed out to ICE #5.

The numbers are staggering. Renault averaged just 839 Km out of the first ICE across 4 cars. ICE #2 improved somewhat to an average of 1,445 Km, but #3 is averaging just 994 Km. Only Sainz remains on #3 so that average is not likely to increase very much.

My projection is that RIC, KVY, and VER will all use a minimum of 7 ICE’s each. Sainz may get away with 6, but I doubt it. There is a possibility that Renault will DOUBLE their allocation on ICE’s on all 4 cars this season. If Red Bull isn’t paying Renault per power unit , they may not have to worry about Renault choosing to stay in the Sport, Renault will be bankrupt. /s

Will Renault be able to use any of their old ICE’s for free practice? I am guessing no. You don’t change out to your 4th and 5th Engines at the 9th race because you are saving it for practice. Renault has a huge problem, and every kilometer of data they can gather on the newest spec ICE is going to help them.

Our final recap will be Mclaren Honda. I am hoping to squeeze that in before Free Practice in Austria so I can at least say I was caught up for a few hours.

Thanks for your support and your comments are appreciated.

12 responses to “#F1 Forensics: Red Bull and Stepchild, The Redhead

  1. Good work Tourdog but what a load of shite this has become that an article like yours has to be written by anyone in the first place!

  2. Verstappen did start in Australia, but did not finish (he was out soon after his first pit stop, because his engine had a melt down)…

    Nice write up, I just cannot believe what a mess Renault made (in the second season they’re working with this engine). Also, I wonder how far up front Torro Rosso would be if they had a ferrari or mercedes engine. The car seems to perform really well!

  3. Till recently, I was in favor of these hybrid power units. But it’s become clear that they’re too expensive (and too heavy) for F1.

    Last weekend’s Le Mans race made it clear that this technology can be developed on the race track, but it should be done in sports cars, not Formula cars.

    • That said, the Mercedes unit does pretty incredible things and is also the cheapest customer engine out there. It shows that they have the potential, and bearing in mind how restricted they are by fuel flow, maximum RPM and so on, they could be amazing things to behold.

      Honda and Renault managing to make power units that – even in a detuned state – are slow, uneconomical and unreliable isn’t indicative of this style of power unit as a whole being unsuitable for F1.

      • The Mercedes power units suffer from the same problems as all the others. Besides being too heavy, it’s too expensive. Williams was explicit about that in their 2014 Annual Report. The cost to a regular F1 team is more than double vs a normal motor. Force India has shared some thoughts on the expense of these motors, as well (#understatement).

        Great point about them being incredible. These motors should not be in F1. They are a financial cancer for F1.

    • I read somewhere awhile back (I think it was a Martin Brundle column) that actually it is a lot cheaper now than it was back when they had:

      – separate testing teams that tested endlessly

      – wind tunnel that ran 24/7

      – had a new engine and gearbox installed for almost every practice sessions, qualifying and race


      IMHO, the reason why people say the engines are too expensive, is down to many different factors such as: the untimely financial crisis, lack of sponsorship and the disparity in prize money to the smaller outfits. This was something that Pat Symonds of Wlliams mentioned as well.

      Honestly a lot of this talk about they should not have gone to this technology is solely down to how poor a job Renault and Ferrari did last season. The issue then got compounded when Renault made step backwards rather than forwards and then for Honda to do worse than what people thought they’d do.

      • Brundle, or whatever article you read is correct. F1 saves a bunch of money by having less testing, and by using the same engine and gearbox for multiple weekends.

        The reason why the F1 teams say these new engines are too expensive is because they know the costs of them.

  4. Though didn’t merc outspend everyone to develop their PU?. So it could be argued that only a big brand manufacturer owned and operated team can win in this current formula. Wasn’t one of the main reasons for the introduction of these regs to reduce costs and even the playing field?. It may be the cheapest customer PU but do you actually believe that a customer team can beat the manufacturer fair and square on track?.

    I agree with vortex mortio that I loved the idea of the hybrid systems in the beginning but I’ve since realized that they belong in sports cars and f1 should be the pinnacle of motorsports and focused purely on racing around a track as fast as humanly possible.

    Thank you toudog for these articles, the shear amount of data you have compiled is simply staggering and puts it all into perspective.

    • “Wasn’t one of the main reasons for the introduction of these regs to reduce costs and even the playing field?”

      No. It was to entice manufacturers to build engines for F1.

      These regs have increased costs, while reducing parity.

      There are now two classes, the cartel class, featuring teams with an extra endowment of funds from F1, combined with a seat on the Strategy Group, and the non-cartel teams. The new motors are so expensive that as we approach mid-season, 3 of the non-cartel teams can’t afford to build a 2015 chassis, while another non-cartel team was dissolved last fall.

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