Red Bull and Toro Rosso yet to decide on using upgraded Renault

Red Bull and Toro Rosso have admitted that there is a chance that they may choose not to race Renault’s upgraded Formula 1 engine when it finally becomes available.

Renault has not yet used any of its 12 tokens, and the long-awaited upgraded D-spec is now not expected to be available before the US GP – leaving just four races in which it could be deployed, with the first invitably compromised by a grid penalty.

In Monza both teams made sufficient engine changes to get all four cars through to the end of the season with the current engine and without further changes, and thus grid penalties. If any of the drivers takes the upgrade, they would have to take an extra penalty in Austin in order to have use of a potentially stronger straightline package, and no more penalties, for the last three races.

RBR’s situation changed when one of Daniel Ricciardo’s new engines suffered a failure in FP3 in Italy, so the Australian is now obliged to make an extra change anyway, and take a penalty. Logic suggests that the team will attempt to postpone that change until Austin and thus give Ricciardo the upgrade for the end of the season races.

However, the decision on whether to stick with the proven old spec or go to the new one will involve weighing the potential increase in performance against any reliability risks associated with the upgrade.

Christian Horner admitted that it could transpire that neither RBR driver will actually use the revised engine.

“It’s a possibility,” he told this writer. “It depends on the value of the update. What you have to calculate is is the increase performance worth the deficit of grid positions?

“I think with Ricciardo he is going to have to take another engine, so theoretically that should be the D-spec if it’s reliable. At the moment I think a lot of work is being done in the background to make it reliable. It’s not a great situation obviously, but it is what it is, and we’ve just got to try and battle on through it.

“It’s beyond frustration, we’ve just got to deal with what we’ve got on a race-by-race basis.”

Meanwhile STR boss Franz Tost agreed that the potential performance increased was the key, and admitted that it could be worth taking the penalty in Austin if that led to a boost over the remaining three races.

“There are always different reasons behind an engine change,” he told this writer. “First of all we need a performance advantage behind it, otherwise it doesn’t make sense. Up to now we don’t have all the information about the D-spec. We will see.

“Of course if the D-spec is much better than the current one, we will take another penalty, because we need to show the best possible performance, and we need to take this advantage. After Austin in Mexico there’s a long straight, and in Sao Paulo there’s a very long straight. We need the best possible engine.

“If you ask me now from my personal opinion, then yes. But this is also a decision from the engineering side, not only my side.”

It could be argued that if after a huge effort Renault finally gets the upgraded engine to the track and it’s not actually used – or is perhaps used only by Ricciardo – it will represent a significant waste of resources. And that could be seen as an uncomfortable parting gift from the two teams…


Filed under F1, F1 News, Grand Prix News

6 responses to “Red Bull and Toro Rosso yet to decide on using upgraded Renault

  1. kenji

    renault is a complete and utter disgrace. they have let their customers down so badly. and to rub salt into the wounds they have the audacity to charge those teams for the engines in the first place. not fit for purpose. they should leave the sport until such time as they can mix it with both ferrari and mercedes!

  2. Agree with the last paragraph, but it’s what Horner says. Will it be worth the trouble? Will it break as soon as it’s placed in the cars? Daniel will be the Guinea pig for that…

  3. MCB

    The real waste of resources are in my opinion the follow: designing an underperforming and unreliable PU and trying to make it reliable. Renault has costs RBR and TR a lot of points this year. If the teams decide against using the upgraded engine (I wonder how many tokens will be spend on it, hopefully all 12), it will be al decision that will be thought thoroughly over and over, not an emotional one just to get back at Renault.

  4. Roland

    Although RBR and STR pay for the engines, Total, Infiniti : brands within the overall Renault group pay for branding etc on the cars and teamwear etc. Renaults biggest problem has been that having achieved four world championships on the bounce they received little if any credit. A mistake last year in designing the rear portion of the car too tight for the new engine/PU layout was still blamed on Renault.

    What I don’t understand is why wouldn’t RBR and STR take the upgraded engines – is there some cost penalty – or perhaps if there was a step change in performance would some other design flaw come to light. I don’t know if the “old” rules that if the engine detonated during a race and needed replacing the team didn’t have to take a penalty, the DNF being a larger penalty. in which case why not go 100% on the PUs for the next race and gain a “free” engine for remaining races, especially if few if any points are on offer. Though as I say I’m not sure they rule still applies.

    • GeorgeK

      It’s probably spite. Why provide Renault with basically a test situation for a half dozen races if RBR are not using them next year?

  5. MCB

    Probably cause 20 bhp extra won’t make a lot of difference and you would have to take a penalty. And Renault’s changes aren’t always for the better, so a performance-gain might lead to reliability-problems.

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