It was made apparent for a while that peace and harmony had broken out between Red Bull Racing and Renault. However the deep divisions and recriminations will not be washed away by a shiny new ‘Tag Heuer’ badge and the promise of a Mario Illien improved internal combustion engine. Behind the scenes the PR battle lines are already being drawn up when the latest iteration of the Renault F1 power unit proves to be still way off the pace of those developed by Mercedes and Ferrari.
Adrian Newey believes the much lauded recent agreement to scrap the F1 PU development token system will neither attract new manufacturers nor succeed in its objective to allow Renault/Honda to catch up with Ferrari and Mercedes. The Red Bull design guru also tells German publication Motorsport-Total that “eye watering amounts of money” will now be blown by some but for “manufacturers like Renault – who are not willing to spend the money – the gap will become bigger and not smaller”.
Newey reveals that the F1 technical working group for the new F1 power units agreed in 2012 to progressively freeze engine development (and therefore spending) but also allow for those lagging behind to catch up. “This is simply not being done”, he observes.
Andy Cowell of Mercedes revealed at Brixworth on Friday that Mercedes power unit performance jump in 2016 will be almost as significant as that between 2014-15. Newey agrees and argues that because the PU’s are still in their infancy, the bigger the manufacturer budget, the greater the gains they will find.
If Newey is correct in his assessment of how the land currently lies in terms of F1 power unit performance, then it won’t be long before Renault are being lambasted for their lack of spending once again from the likes of Marko and Horner.