Reports indicate that Red Bull’s new 2018 car, the RB14 crashed out during the shakedown at Silverstone, damaging the front wing, nose and floor.
During a very wet day yesterday, TJ13 understands that Red Bull’s car left the circuit in the rain, damaging the car whilst Daniel Ricciardo lapped the historic circuit.
True, during a shakedown the car’s potential is hardly achieved but could it be an early sign that Red Bull’s chassis direction is indeed significantly different to that of McLaren, Renault’s latest customer.
Red Bull’s perennial martyr, the single eye’d Mr Marko aims a warning shot at McLaren having already downplayed Red Bull’s title winning chances during the shakedown. The Austrian doubts that McLaren will have pursued the right chassis concept for the new Renault drive.
“What we’ve heard about McLaren always puts a lot of emphasis on downforce, but we’re more into a compromise between top speed on the straights and just enough downforce in the corners we came with,” warns Marko.
In other words, McLaren will be suffering in much the same manner as they did over the years at the high speed circuits such as Monza and Silverstone.
For several years McLaren has had a fantastic way of mitigating their failures on track. Honda have not been able to provide the team from Woking a power unit that is both powerful and reliable during their time together, despite a brief glimpse of progress toward the end of the 2016 season.
Now comes the switch to a new power unit from Renault that, unlike Honda, won’t be prioritised towards McLaren having moved away from being the ‘works’ team. Further the Renault isn’t that reliable but does have marginally more power than the Honda. The Renault power unit did show a degree of parity on some circuits last season but the general consensus is that it is significantly down on Mercedes and Ferrari. Red Bull’s Christian Horner has been on record saying that Renault and Honda may never be at the same level as Mercedes and Ferrari until the regulations change in 2021.
Yet McLaren’s chief engineering officer Matt Morris is bullish when asked the advantages of working with Renault over Honda at racer.com “We could not be better prepared for testing in a few weeks.”. He then continues:
“I think the big difference is speaking with all the guys at Renault they’ve inherently got a lot more experience,” says Morris “Those guys that are on the ground have been doing it a lot longer than the guys at Honda, and that’s just a fact. I think that’s what’s allowed us to get the packaging done so quickly.”
“We had a big list of questions. ‘Right, we’ve got two weeks to do this, we need all this information within the next 24 hours.’ All that information came back because Renault is just used to customer teams turning up and wanting the same sort of information. I think that’s probably the biggest difference at the moment, it’s just their experience.”
“The same is true in their factory in Viry. It’s just more mature than Honda. It might not have as many fancy dynos or whatever but they’ve just got more experience. We’re over there at the moment doing some work on the dyno with them and again that’s just been seamless. Taking our gearbox and running it on the back of the engine has been a really easy and obviously useful process.”
“Thanks to some things that we have done together with Renault in recent weeks, we are better prepared for the first day in Barcelona than we are it was last with Honda, ”
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Red Bull’s Helmet Marko also casts doubts over McLaren’s ‘number one’ driver Fernando Alonso, who will compete with Toyota for the entire season in the Endurance World Championship:
“I do not know how he will cope with this double effort, because F1 isn’t all he’s up to and I suppose he wants to win with Toyota, so he’ll push there as well, “says Marko. “He’s in a car almost every weekend, and he’s not the youngest anymore.”
In a war of words in the press, Alonso retorts at his detractors in a rather odd and flamboyant manner saying:
“Yes it is a challenge, and indeed it is a brave challenge, to be at Toyota is to be in a mythical race, with the best team that will participate in Le Mans, which gives me more security.”
Furthermore Alonso is adamant he is physically capable of the demanding year ahead adding “No, I’m not grey yet!”