Given that the artic nature of the Red Bull Racing and Renault F1 relationship, the politics surrounding the big Renault in season power unit upgrade were always going to be difficult to plot. Initially, Red Bull suggested in Monza they would not ‘need’ to run the Renault upgrade given that they took two more engines per car, to increase the pool of PU’s in circulation and available without further penalty.
“What you have to calculate is the increase performance worth the deficit of grid positions?,” Horner commented. “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”.
There was talk of the D-spec being available for Russia, then Austin, then Mexico – though RBR finally relented in Brazil and ran the Renault upgrade in Ricciardo’s car. Renault had provided the FIA with details of their new PU stating they had deployed 11 development tokens. Yet presumably due to more shenanigans between RBR and Renault, the PU Ricciardo used claimed by RBR to not be compatible with the exhaust and other components. The D-Spec PU finally deployed in the Aussies RB11 had upgrades worth just 7 tokens.
Predictably, during the race the performance advantage for Riccardo when compared to Kvyat – using the old spec PU – was negligible. To many, Red Bull Racing succeeded in putting the kibosh on any proper testing of Renault’s PU development efforts
Cyril Abiteboul admitted today: “It is true that recent history and uncertainty with Red Bull have loosened the technical collaboration that there was between our respective teams. Our dialogue has almost stopped. It was only fair for next year, but maybe where we should have been a bit more careful was that it didn’t stop for this year”.
“It meant we were not maximising the performance improvement of that engine [in Ricciardo’s car in Brazil], because if you change one element of the power unit you need to think of the side effect of all the other elements of the power unit.”
Red Bull Racing have now decided Daniel Ricciardo will race in Abu Dhabi with an engine used prior to Brazil. The testing of the newly developed Renault PU is over for this year. Ricciardo will not suffer any grid penalties because this PU was introduced during the Monza weekend along with others – which meant RBR took sufficient penalties that should have seen them start the race from Piazza del Duomo.