Spa: Red Bull software error killed Verstappen’s car – Max completed less laps than Alonso so far

After just 8 laps at the race last weekend at Spa, Verstappen performed the now very familiar stopping on track procedure where his TAG Heuer Power Unit gave up yet again.

Red Bull have had some astonishing luck with engine failures this season and it appears to blight the Dutch driver Max Verstappen rather more than his Australian team mate Danny Ricciardo.

The analysis of the failure is ongoing but indications point to a software error is to blame. Indeed once back in the garage, the engineers were able to fire up the car with a simple fix.

“We had some motor damage in the earlier part of the season so an additional fuse with software was installed” admits Verstappen to Ziggo Sport’s TV show Peptalk

“Once back at the pits, my boys fiddled with the spark plug, then they started the engine.”

“I cannot talk about bad luck. Part of the problem also has to do with the preparation. Once a motor came to the track, which from the beginning was not in order. That should not happen. ”

Questions remain over Red Bull. Why are they seeing these failures?

When seeking answers it’s often useful to look into past form and historically since the V6 Hybrid era began, Red Bull have pushed their engine partner (namely a reluctant Renault) into areas beyond their reliability comfort zone in a bid to extract more power and performance. This is evidenced by  slimming down chassis, squeezing the engine bay thus compromising cooling to try and satisfy chief designer Adrian Newey’s insatiable lust for aerodynamic perfection, particularly in 2014. Even during the previous V8 era, Red Bull were known to mandate engine map tweaks to Renault when exhaust blowing for aero gain.

Rather telling is the table below showing how poorly Red Bull have performed in terms of completed laps over the season, particularly when compared to the works Renault team.

Credit @MarcelloPaz on Twitter

Now comes Monza, and Max Verstappen is skeptical.

“This will not be a easy weekend for us. In addition, penalties are imposed on us. We can not use more than four engines per driver and season, and we have used up our quota. In Italy will bring the fifth engine – and hope that we can finish the season with it.”

10 responses to “Spa: Red Bull software error killed Verstappen’s car – Max completed less laps than Alonso so far

  1. They pulled the sparkplug out, put the same one back in and it ran just fine after that..
    The broken new engine he mentioned had a faulty crankshaft…

    • It’s funny, every year we have a couple of drivers that must have killed a Pharos in a past life. I know these are complicated machines but in reality..if checks are carried out there really is no need for a part failed. There will always be Murphy’s law

  2. IF it is true that JV has more offs in practice than DR (per Mark Webber interview), one wonders if that doesn’t affect engine life…
    The stark difference in laps completed between Renault and Tag is also quite telling–clearly, RB is doing something more with the power unit system.

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