After enduring a rather tumultuous start to the new V6 turbo era of Formula one in 2014, both Red Bull Racing and its engine partner Renault Sport where able to recover some respectability to their campaign in 2014. The pair finished second in the constructors championship winning 3 races along the way.
The expectations in Milton Keynes over the winter was that the 2015 campaign would see the Anglo-French partnership move closer to Mercedes, but that hope has yet to materialise and they have been overtaken by both Williams and Ferrari. This has led to a spectacular public war of words between Milton Keynes and Viry Chatilllon which culminated in the mild mannered Adrian Newey being called a liar by the head of Renault Sport F1.
The cracks in the relationship began to appear during the first winter test in 2014, when Sebastian Vettel allegedly climbed out of the car on the fourth morning in Jerez and refused to drive ‘that crap’ any more.
Over time, Renault had been growing increasingly frustrated with the constant rollicking they’ve been subjected to from the likes of Horner, Mateschitz and Marko and now Cyril Abiteboul reveals how Red Bull have failed in their promise to operate with Renault as a single works team.
“They expressed a desire, but for some reason – and maybe the reasons are not completely on their side – we have not managed to move from the uniform statements to acts.”
“It’s one thing to state that Red Bull is our team and a works team of Renault, but it’s another to make it happen.
“When you are a works team, for example Mercedes, it has one budget. At the start of the year the first decision that they have to make is how much is going into the engine side and how much into the team side and in order to do that you look at the regulations, you look at your overall performance and you look in particular at the break down in performance between chassis, engine and driver. You make your plans and distribute the money and budget that you have available between those three elements. For me it’s a no brainer and that should be the way forward.”
The implication behind this statement is surprising. Abiteboul is clearly making the point Red Bull have not funded the Renault engine development properly – as a works team partnership.
With Red Bull rumoured to be looking for a new engine partner for 2016, all this of course could be legal posturing, to hedge against any breach of contract claims by one or other of the parties.