Given that the 2016 driver market is almost finalised, the Red Bull Hokey Cokey has provided us all with an opportunity to keep running what if scenarios. One few have entertained is the breaking news today.
Red Bull Racing are unlikely to try out the upgraded Renault power unit, according to Daniel Ricciardo. “It’s available if we want to use it, that would mean a penalty though. We’ve got to understand if it is worth it. Last I heard it is not massive”.
If Red Bull were thinking of running the ‘upgraded’ Renault engine at all before the end of the season, the weather forecasts of torrential rain provides them with the ideal opportunity to take grid drop penalties and a new engine, without suffering the usual level of pain this brings due to the complete unpredictability of qualifying and probably the race.
As TJ13 suggested earlier this week, failing to try out the new Renault power unit clearly indicates that Red Bull have no intention of partnering with Renault in 2016. They are forfeiting valuable track time and a grid penalty free race next weekend to evaluate the progress Renault have made.
The Aussie driver concludes, “Right now we are less likely to take it. That’s about it”.
Toro Rosso have made it clear they will not run this engine upgrade in any of the remaining four races this season as Carlos Sainz explains: “No. We’re going to stick for the rest of the year with the old spec. I don’t think, given the values that they’ve given, it’s worth getting another grid penalty and to start last”.
“These last four tracks are similar to this one [Austin]. Not the best tracks, as they have long straights, but not the worst. So if we can be there, close to the top 10, top eight on some of them, to start last is too much. It isn’t worth it. We will commit to this year’s spec that we have now. It’s good enough to finish the year and we have plenty of them.”
TJ13 learned last night that intensive talks are currently under way between Red Bull and Honda for a 2016 F1 engine supply. This appears the last option open to Mateschitz ‘A’ team given Ferrari and Mercedes have stated they will not provide Red Bull with an engine. McLaren’s position on Red Bull partnering with Honda for 2016 is unknown at present, though extra engines on track delivering valuable data from a competitive chassis would be invaluable for Honda and in turn McLaren.
As TJ13 has continued to exclusively report, The Bull’s Milton Keynes HQ has developed and is running an engine testing facility in its building 9. The plan was to partner with a VW brand and introduce a ‘new’ manufacturer engine in 2017. Ferrari and Mercedes learned of this plan and it made their decision to refuse Red Bull a power unit for 2016 even more catagoric.
Meanwhile Red Bull has been working on the design and development of an ERS unit, which is not so surprising when considering McLaren were keen to offer expertise to assist Honda in this area too. Further, any team that can afford to crash 60 plus different nose designs has the money to undertake this R&D.
In addition, Bernie Ecclestone has been making a lot of noise about F1 needing an ‘independent‘ engine supplier like Cosworth. TJ13 has also learned that together with Mario Illien, Cosworth are collaborating with Red Bull on a feasibility project aimed longer term at producing an F1 internal combustion engine.
Red Bull have always insisted they cannot produce an engine for Formula One, yet it seems they have backed themselves into such a corner – the only longer term option remaining is to try – or quit Formula One. A Red Bull exit is now something paddock folk have been taking more seriously this week since Bernie Ecclestone dismissed Red Bull’s lack of engine woe stating: “My argument would be: ‘You signed the contract to compete. You should have made sure when you signed the contract that you had an engine. Your team was supposed to do this.’”
But right now – TJ13 believes Honda is close to agreeing to play ball. The seeds of this agreement may well have been in the concessions made last week to allow in season engine development in 2016. Honda were known to be keen to be allowed a redesign which required more than the 25 tokens as the regulations stated. A total of 32 tokens are now set to be allowed for 2016 engine upgrades.