Despite ‘badging’ their 2016 power unit as Tag Heuer it appears the bad blood between Renault and Red Bull is set to continue. Recently Dr. Helmut Marko stated, “When I consider the current Lotus team, which is now the Renault factory team, then if they [Renault] were in their right mind they would put everything on us,” adding especially, “with those drivers”.
At yesterday’s livery reveal by Red Bull Racing, when asked whether Toro Rosso would outperform their big brother team this year Christian Horner replied, “Yes. Toro Rosso has bolted in 0.8 seconds into their car through a different power unit. That is a significant amount of performance”.
The reality is that Renault have been developing their F1 V6 hybrid turbo throughout the winter and will bring some performance gains over their 2015 PU to the circuit immediately. Whether this is the 0.8 seconds Horner estimates was the deficit between Renault’s and Ferrari’s PUs in 2015 is anyone’s guess.
That said, Renault’s power unit chief, Rémi Taffin, was recently reported as stating, “All I can say is that I think we will improve more than our competitors this winter, because our margin (for improvement) is higher.” Taffin refused however to confirm or deny whether their power gain was in the region of 50 BHP as had been widely reported in the media.
Christian Horner went on to state that it would be up to Red Bull to close the gap on their competitors by developing the car throughout the season. “We are hoping to make similar gains throughout the year but obviously the chassis is going to have to prop that up.”
Renault have said they will be upping their budget for this season and for that the Red Bull Racing boss is somewhat grateful. “I get the feeling that they [Renault] have a much better idea of where the performance deficiency has been, and what they need to do to address that,” said Horner. “There seems to be a lot more confidence and focus and I think with a bit of restructuring they have done there, they have got some quality consultants in there now with plenty of experience”.
During 2015 Red Bull Racing were convinced Renault were failing to analyse the areas of deficiency in the internal combustion engine part of the power unit and so engaged the services of Mario Illien. Clearly Horner believes Renault have now turned the corner. He concluded, “So I think they are addressing the right areas now.”
There may have been a truce over the winter in the war of words between Red Bull and Renault, but all good will seems to have died in this relationship over the past two years, and it will surprise no-one if the cessation of hostilities is breached at some point in the near future.