“I never made a mistake in my life; at least, never one that I couldn’t explain away afterwards.” ― Rudyard Kipling, Under The Deodars
Christian Horner would now have us believe that almost two years of civil war between Red Bull and its quadruple world title winning engine partner was merely a calculated move to catch the eye of the Renault main board – who were too ‘distant’ from the goings on in their F1 engine division. Horner tells Speedweek that unlike Mercedes’ Dieter Zetsche and Ferrari’s Sergio Marchionne, Carlos Ghosn has appeared disinterested because unlike his counterparts, he has been mostly absent from the F1 arena.
When asked whether his public criticism of Renault has played well with the public, Horner replied, “I think they were finally told the truth from both sides. Of course it’s never good to run your business this way in public, but it was born out of frustration”.
The Red Bull team principal argues his comments over Renault’s commitment to the new V6 Turbo Hybrids were appropriate. “This is a competitive business. And as far as I’m concerned, I’ve always told the truth. And if you look at what I said, I do not think my comments were unfair.”
Earlier this year, Red Bull engaged the services of Mario Illien for around £2 million to design a new cylinder head for the Renault F1 internal combustion engine. This was subsequently tested in their Milton Keynes facility on a newly acquired AVL rig, along with other aspects of the power unit. Despite the alleged 30-40Bhp performance improvement with the new Illien cylinder head fitted, Renault bosses in Viry decided to say ‘thanks but no thanks’ to their partner and the sub-contracted Mario Illien.
Illien and his prior association with Mercedes powered F1 engines, presumably meant he was considered the ‘enemy’ by the senior management in Viry.
Horner confirms this stating, “Initially, there was resistance to include Mario. It was not the smoothest relationships between Milton Keynes and Viry, and from this arose the frustration.” Christian adds that Renault’s refusal to accept Red Bull as a ‘full-fledged’ technical partner saw the relationship taken to the brink.
Red Bull had an existing contract for F1 power unit supply for 2016 with Renault. This included the full sponsorship from Infiniti and Total which Milton Keynes could have enforced. However, both parties have agreed to tread a different path. Red Bull are widely reported to be naming their 2016 power unit Heuer, though at present the entry list for next year published by the FIA has the Milton Keynes teams’ engine name as ‘TBA’.
Writing for Motorsportmagazine.com, Mark Hughes recently confirmed, that Renault and Red Bull will run different ICE’s next in 2016. “Both are Renault based,” but Hughes explains, “the Illien development will be the foundation of the Red Bull engine.”
Hughes also makes it clear, the two power units will have “different combustion philosophies AND different ERS systems. Red Bull had already been manufacturing key parts of this system for Renault.”
The big question is whether Red Bull Racing become a power unit manufacturer for 2016? If so they must homologate their PU before 28th February 2016, and will be allowed just 15 development tokens for 2016.
Yet Fans have debated whether Red Bull Racing will actually be allowed to take what is effect the engine block from Renault and ‘build their own engine.’
Renault have also added to the confusion by stating recently that “Ilmor, like other contractors AVL, Mechachrome and Magneti Marreli will work directly for and under Renault.”
This appears to shut down the Red Bull PU development programme, given that Illien is now working for Renault. However, in the recent F1 2016 sporting regulations, an insertion was made for next year which states: “Other than any parts agreed by the FIA at their absolute discretion to be solely associated with power unit installation with different teams, each manufacturer may supply only one specification of homologated power unit during any given calendar year…”
This clause allows a manufacturer to submit more than one specification of power unit for homologation. The previous version of the sporting regulations was absolute on this matter. Appendix 4.2, “A manufacturer may homologate no more than one specification of power unit”.
Of course the legal speak of the FIA regulation does offer itself open to differing interpretations. However, one thing is clear, as Christian Horner states, the Red Bull hullabaloo has forced changes – one of which sees them lose the 50 million they receive from the Renault associated sponsor Infiniti.