Probably the biggest F1 controversy for a number of years has finally ended. Having cancelled their engine contract for 2016 with Renault without a replacement partner, Red Bull Racing have been accused of ‘jumping from an airplane and trying to buy a parachute on the way down.’ This has led to the widely held view that Red Bull Racing could actually withdraw from Formula One at the end of this year.
The bitterness that has been expressed between Renault and RBR senior personnel has led most observers to believe that the relationship is terminal. And when the normally sanguine Adrian Newey states that, “Unfortunately, our relationship with Renault is pretty terminal — there’s been too much of a marriage breakdown, so we have no engine,” then the only conclusion to be drawn is – that’s that.
However, TJ13 can reveal Red Bull Racing will not be leaving Formula One in 2016. They have in fact tonight secured an engine to power the RB12 at what for many is the 11th hour and 59th minute. Then again, given TJ13’s exclusive reporting on the new engine facility constructed by Red Bull Racing in building 9 at their HQ, maybe this is not so big a surprise.
RBR will be running the Renault 12 token upgraded engine in Brazil, having passed on using it in both Austin and Mexico. This power unit upgrade has been the result of a joint effort between Renault and the Red Bull appointed consultant Mario Illien. TJ13 has learned that the reason Red Bull have refused to run this PU at the past two races is because no agreement on joint intellectual property had been finalised. The deal is now done.
Mario Illien, the former Ilmor engine guru, has been working in the new Milton Keynes building 9 for over a year and assisting Renault in solving fundamental design flaws in their F1 power unit. Much of this revolves around the engine block.
The result is that Renault have agreed to manufacture and supply Red Bull Racing for the near future, the co-designed 12 token upgraded ICE, whilst Red Bull will supply their own ERS components for the F1 power unit.
Further, it has been agreed between the parties that Red Bull will be able to develop the ICE further in their building 9 complex, without reference to Renault, and that intellectual property of the base unit as it stands now, is jointly owned. Disagreements between Renault and RBR over the intellectual property of the ‘co-developed’ PU has been the reason RBR have been desperately seeking a temporary engine partner for 2016. These matters appear to be now resolved.
The Red Bull Racing power unit for 2016 is expected to be branded as Infiniti, should they and Renault-Nissan agree on this. If not, the engine development costs going forward will be met by Red Bull and another partner will be credited.
TJ13 has been informed that Red Bull Racing are already confident they will start the 2016 season with a revised version of the current Renault 12 token upgraded ICE, with a power unit producing in excess of a 40 BHP advantage.
Renault will now complete the acquisition of Lotus to run a ‘works team’ in 2016, and so let battle royal commence between the French F1 engine manufacturer maestro’s of the past 30 years versus the new kids on the block – who by the way said they were never going to be an F1 engine manufacturer.
Then again, when you’ve pissed off everyone else, ‘needs must’ – is the only conclusion.
As an aside, it may well be that the Red Bull engine solution now kills off the Jean Todt and Bernie Ecclestone’s idea of an independent F1 engine supplier. RBR are sorted, ‘crisis over.’