Christian Horner says that Red Bull only intends to help Renault to improve the current power unit, within the framework of the FIA engine freeze, rather than pursue a new unit for 2016 or beyond.
Red Bull’s human resources department created a stir recently by advertising for personnel to work on “our Formula One power unit.” That added fuel to suggestions that the intention is to homologate a new power unit for 2016, which would be built by Renault’s Viry factory, but with Red Bull design input and IP. In theory it would be not subject to current freeze restrictions, although the FIA’s take on such a scenario is not clear, as the rules have not been tested yet.
There remains the very obvious possibility of the Infiniti name being used, and it is known that the luxury marque’s management is keen to distance itself from the Renault brand.
However within the freeze there is still a reasonable amount of freedom for all three current manufacturers to make changes over the coming winter for 2015, while there is another but smaller window before the 2016 season, and so on. The big question is whether those upgrade opportunities will allow RBR and Renault to make sufficient progress relative to the possibility of starting with a clean sheet. Horner insists that the intention is to work with the current power unit.
“We’re working with Renault, and Renault are committed to F1,” Horner told this writer. “We now have a clear structure and philosophy of how Renault want to go racing in F1, which is with a focus around a team, which is the way it needs to be. And obviously Caterham and Toro Rosso will benefit from any advances we make.
“It’s not setting up our own department, it’s in complete collaboration with Renault. It’s part of us starting to work together as a proper works team, and in areas that we have strength, we are looking to build upon, and compliment areas within Renault Sport.
“It’s still evolving, but certainly areas where we have real strength are simulation and modelling and so on. That’s what we’ll be focussing on it. And in the energy recovery side, we’ve got good specialist know-how there. It’s all work in progress at the moment.”
Regarding the winter upgrade window for 2015 he said: “Obviously it’s tight, but we’re pushing on.”