The war of words between the Red Bull F1 family and Renault is well documented. However, the tensions were ramped up this year in Australia when Daniel Kvyat didn’t even make it to the start grid due to engine failure and Ricciardo was lapped before the end by the Mercedes pair.
In their defence, Renault later revealed that Red Bull were insisting they run a specification of the engine which the French manufacturer was not comfortable had passed the reliability tests set out.
Renault’s goal has been to improve reliability first and add performance later – a furrow Honda are now ploughing.
TJ13 reported during the Jerez test that Renault would require at least 6 months to fix the issue of reliability and Renault later confirmed that they hoped this would be the case by the Canadian GP.
There have been indications that Red Bull Racing have persisted with their pressure on Renault to improve performance, however Cyril Abeteboul and his colleagues have remained resolute in their pursuit of consistency and repeatedly stated the engine development tokens would only be deployed towards the latter part of this year.
Reports are emerging that Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso may refuse to run the newly developed engine (D-Spec) before the end of the year.
“It’s a possibility. It depends on the value of the update,” Christian Horner tells Adam Cooper. “What you have to calculate is the increase performance worth the deficit of grid positions?
I think with Ricciardo he is going to have to take another engine, so theoretically that should be the D-spec if it’s reliable.
At the moment I think a lot of work is being done in the background to make it reliable. It’s not a great situation obviously, but it is what it is, and we’ve just got to try and battle on through it.
It’s beyond frustration, we’ve just got to deal with what we’ve got on a race-by-race basis.”
Is this a change of philosophy?
Mr. Horner now appears to be a convert to the mantra of reliability first, or is this just Red Bull denying Renault the opportunity to test their engine now that the 2016 supply contract between Red Bull and Renault has been terminated.
Franz Tost appears to be a little more conciliatory. “After Austin in Mexico there’s a long straight, and in Sao Paulo there’s a very long straight. We need the best possible engine.
“If you ask me now from my personal opinion, then yes. But this is also a decision from the engineering side, not only my side.”
Of course in Monza, both Red Bull and Toro Rosso took additional grid penalties to increase the engine pool available to them – and could run the current pool iteration of used engines to the end of the season without further grid drop penalties. Red Bull will argue they cannot be forced by Renault to take any more engine penalties – and refuse the D-Spec upgrade.
Now that the divorce appears finalised, is it time for the blood letting?
Yet Red Bull Racing are just 50 points ahead of Force India and 63 points ahead of Lotus with 7 races to go. This veiled threat could have serious repercussions for their championship hopes.