Tag Archives: Red Bull Racing

Christian Horner: “It is never good to conduct your business in public…”

Red Bull boss Christian Horner says he has no regrets about criticising Renault this season – and admits that in part he was trying to send a message to the French company’s board and its CEO Carlos Ghosn.

In effect Horner, who has harboured doubts about Renault’s commitment, wanted to give the management a wake-up call.

The Renault board are quite distant from what is going on,” said Horner when asked by this writer. “It is not like Dieter Zetsche, who attends quite a few races, or Sergio Marchionne, and so I guess part of being vocal was also to get those messages back to the Renault board, that there are some issues here, and they need to be resolved.

I think that things were said ultimately on both sides – of course it is never good to conduct your business in public, but it was really born out of frustration more than anything else.”

However Horner insisted that he had no regrets about going public, and says it didn’t have a negative impact: “It is very easy for others to pick up and use whatever excuse is convenient. What you have to remember is, this is a competitive business. As far as I am concerned, I have only ever told you the truth.

When I have been asked a question, I have given you an answer, and if you look at actually what I have said, I don’t think there is anything particularly unfair in the comments that have been made. I think inevitably it’s been born out of frustration, comments that either Dietrich, or Adrian, or Helmut have made.”

Horner admits to being frustrated when Renault opted not to accept technical input from Ilmor’s Mario Illien that had been arranged by Red Bull, a decision that has now been reversed for 2016.

Renault went through some management changes towards the end of last year, and there was an awful lot of talk going on. We introduced Mario Illien to them, there was resistance to use Mario initially, we created an engine group to support, there was not the smoothest of relationships between Milton Keynes and Viry, and out of that, obviously grew frustration.

I think there was always a reluctance to fully embrace Red Bull as a technical partner, and there was a difference of opinion technically on where the weaknesses of the engine were. We couldn’t influence the technical direction of the development. 

Mario developed a concept for Renault, and Renault in parallel ran their own project, and the outcome of which was the D-spec. And I never felt that Renault fully embraced the technical capability and simulation capability that we tried to offer. It was very clear early on that Renault weren’t happy being just a supplier. From the back end of last year they have been looking at becoming an entrant again.”

Horner denies that Red Bull pushed Renault too hard: “I don’t think so. I think that they are quite an established and conservative organisation, and of course our DNA is that we want to push, we want to get on, we want to make progress.

And obviously a lot of promises were made over the last quarter of the year, and the closed season of 2014 into 2015, so inevitably expectation rose. And it was frustrating to see us further away, and in fact behind where we finished the season in 2014, going into the beginning of 2015.”

He admits that Renault’s inherently conservative approach has held the company back.

I think in some respects, it possibly has. It is good to hear that they are looking at a bit of a restructure.”

Meanwhile he says that another side effect of Renault’s winter problems was that issues with the chassis were not immediately apparent, although later the team was able to get on top of them.

I think with regard to the engine, we were running old specification engines through the winter, and we had quite a lot of issues, reliability and so on, and particularly driveability, that was masking quite a lot of the chassis issues.

The front wing changes and nose changes over the winter actually seemed to affect us more than others, but they were a little bit masked early on by the major issues that we were having with the driveability. It was only once that started to improve that we could see – hang on, we’ve got some things that need tidying up, which the team quickly got on top of.”


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Clock is ticking as Red Bull engine search continues

Red Bull continues to search for an engine deal for 2016 as the weeks tick away to the start of next season.

The team has had talks with Honda, who agreed with the FIA and Bernie Ecclestone that they have to supply two teams in its second season. However McLaren has a right of veto over any choice of team.

At the moment we are right on the limit to be at the first test,” said team boss Christian Horner. “The team in Milton Keynes have demonstrated their ability to work to massively tight deadlines and I am sure we will be able to meet whatever targets we need to as long as we come to a decision in the next couple of weeks.

We are working hard to find a solution and behind the scenes there is an awful lot going on to try to achieve that – certain obstacles are being placed in our way, when the time is right we will sit down with all you guys to say what we are doing.

We have a great team, we have worked really hard to build this team and I am determined that we will be here next year but we need to have a strong and bright future as well. This team is too strong to go: that has worked against us because the team is so strong.”

It looks increasingly likely that Red Bull’s only option could be to stick with Renault, possibly doing a deal to use the engine without branding. However Horner is still talking to Honda.

Honda are very keen, but unfortunately they have a contractual status that is between them and McLaren, it is nothing to do with us. It is for them to decide among themselves what they want to do.

I haven’t spoken to anybody from McLaren other than Ron Dennis who is the one guy who has the right of say there. And his views were quite clear.”

He said Red Bull would not be involved in any legal challenge from the FIA or FOM regarding McLaren’s veto.

We will not get involved. Bernie and Jean Todt have made their positions clear regarding the situation, we rely on them to deal with that. That is a discussion between those two parties.”


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Christian Horner: “In Austin we should be in better shape…”

Christian Horner admits that he was surprised that Daniel Ricciardo was able to show so strongly in Sochi before the Aussie was sidelined by a late mechanical issue.

Like Sergio Perez Ricciardo pitted early under the Grosjean safety car, and thereafter tried to hold position while running a long second stint. Meanwhile his team mate Dany Kvyat took fifth place after starting 11th.

“It was a shame because Daniel had done such a good job on the hard tyre,” Horner told this writer. “The risk with the strategy worked well, and he was doing a great job to keep the faster cars of Bottas and Raikkonen behind. With five laps to go it looks like hr had a suspected rear hub issue. A great shame. I think we need to investigate fully to understand it.

“To be honest to be fighting for a podium today, after the safety car, we didn’t expect that. And for Daniil to pick up a fifth place in his home race is a respectable performance.”

Although most upcoming tracks feature long straights Horner is confident that RBR can still chase some big points.

“Absolutely. Hopefully in Austin we should be in better shape. There are some faster corners than there are here in Sochi. We knew this track was going to be tough for us. Mexico is a little unknown, although it looks like it’s got a very long straight. Brazil will be tough, and Abu Dhabi we’ve always been OK.

Regarding possible engine change penalties he added: “We’re tight but OK at the moment.”

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Daniel Ricciardo: “I think the car has got better and better”

Daniel Ricciardo says his eighth place finish in Italy felt like a podium after engine penalties forced him to start at the back – and the Aussie believes that RBR can challenge for a real one in Singapore.

Ricciardo started on the prime tyre and ran a longer first stint than anyone else, giving himself soft tyres for a sprint to the flag at the end. He relieved Marcus Ericsson of eighth on the last corner.

“It was cool, it was a bit like last year,” said Ricciardo. “We had good pace at the end, and we were able to go longer on the first stint. I think we could have gone longer again, but I think we had to cover Dany [Kvyat] coming out, he pitted a few laps earlier. Anyway, I was happy with the car.

“We know we struggle on the straights, it was always going to be hard to get in the top 10 here with our package, but the chassis itself again I’m really pleased with, it’s handling well. To get in the top eight – I said at the start of the weekend if we can crack the top eight it will be like a podium for us.

“To finish top eight exceeded our expectations, to say the least. I just got Ericsson on the last corner, much to his dismay I guess. My smile got bigger.

“Some other positives, since we’ve had the new start procedures, I don’t know if it’s luck, but both my starts have been pretty awesome. I’ll take that as well as a positive from the weekend.”

Regarding prospects for Singapore he said: “I don’t want to get too excited, but we can all go in there with some confidence. I think the car has got better and better in the last few races, and Singapore will bring our car to life. Hopefully we can challenge Ferrari for a podium.”

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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…


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Christian Horner: “I think we are going to live in the moment…”

Hungary saw a huge turnaround in fortunes for Red Bull Racing as Dany Kvyat and Daniel Ricciardo finished second and third, but team boss Christian Horner is under no illusions as the track disguised the lack of performance from the Renault engine.

We knew that this track would play to some of our strengths,” said Christian Horner. “And it is great that we managed to capitalise on that with a double podium, with Dany Kvyat’s first podium, Daniel Ricciardo’s first podium of the year. it was great team performance and I think that this type of circuit with lack of dependency on straightline speed has played to our strengths.”

Ricciardo could have been in with a shout of victory had he not made contact with Nico Rosberg with seven laps to go, and required a new wing. Unlike the Mercedes driver and leader Sebastian Vettel, he was on the softer tyre.

It felt a little bit like deja vu from last year, we strategically made the call at the first stop to put the hard tyre on, we felt our only possibilities would be in the later part of the race if there were a safety car and sure enough we had that set of tyres left, the safety car came out and it teed it up beautifully.

The surprising thing for us was that Rosberg went on to the hard tyre and Lewis had to take the hard tyre and Kimi had an issue, so Daniel made his way past Kimi fairly easily and managed to find his way past Lewis.

There was quite a big contact, which damaged the car quite significantly, But despite that he was able to close in on the leading pair and he was always going to have a go, and obviously got a run up the inside, got in a bit too deep and Nico came across his bows on the exit, and it looked like a racing incident. It is a shame without that, if he had managed to get pass Nico it would have set up an interesting finish with Seb.”

Horner says he’s not yet worrying about the upcoming power circuits.

I think we are going to live in the moment for now, and think about Spa after the break – particularly Monza. They are going to be much more challenging than here. Singapore is probably our next opportunity to shine. We will keep pushing, keep developing the car, you never know it could be wet in Spa and you have to be in a position when those days where it doesn’t quite go right for others.

The aero boys have made some improvements around the front of the car, mechanically there has been a bit of an improvement as well, the penalty of the regulation changes over the winter did hurt us with the front end of the car but we have now recovered that. I think the last two or three races have been positive on the chassis side.”

Meanwhile Horner said the race was good for the sport: “F1 put on a great show today. There are talk of changes to the circuit, but don’t! It produces good races here, I think F1 races like that, when you get a variable factor and slightly different tyre strategies it bought the race alive today.”

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Red Bull forced to wait until Russian GP for Renault upgrades

Red Bull boss Christian Horner says that Renault will not introduce any power unit performance upgrades before October’s Russian GP in Sochi.

That means the RBR and Toro Rosso drivers will have to get through Spa, Monza, Singapore and Suzuka before they see any improvement in the engine’s performance.

Renault still has 12 in-season development tokens, and the company is expected to use them to produce a revised V6 and turbo – but which will now be available only for the final five races of the season.

“I don’t think anything is scheduled now before Sochi,” said Horner today. “That probably is the earliest that we’re going to see any development or use of the tokens. The engines that we’ve got at the moment are what we’re having to live with for the time being.”

The extra problem for Daniel Ricciardo is that after a failure today he only has one usable V6 to use. If he needs another one before Sochi he will take a grid penalty and will also be stuck with the current spec – unless he takes a further penalty in Russia or beyond in order to get the upgraded engine.

Horner explained: “Engines four and five are what the drivers have been using between Friday and Sunday racing. Unfortunately Ricciardo has now lost engine four, so he’s only got engine five that came into service for the first time in Austria to get him through the next few races. Only time will tell as to whether we can get to Sochi or not without incurring another penalty before introducing an upgraded unit.”

Horner insisted that Red Bull would still be with Renault next year.

“Renault would be the first to admit that they are not at all happy with where performance and reliabilty has been with this engine. They are making progress, they are making strides. The problem with engines is that unlike the chassis they are long lead time items. Renault have got strategically some decisions to take over the coming weeks in terms of the direction they want to go, not just for 2016 but beyond that.

“We have an agreement with Renault to the end of next year, and of course as a partner we’re expecting them to enable us to run in a competitive manner. In order to do that we need a competitive engine. Of course Renault need that more than anybody as well for both their customer teams.”


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Horner says RBR interested in Ecclestone ‘parity’ engine plan

Red Bull Racing boss Christian Horner says he’s open to the idea of two types of engine competing in F1 from 2017.

Bernie Ecclestone wants to introduce a cheaper engine for the struggling midfield teams – potentially a V8 or twin-turbo V6, in either case with KERS – which would race alongside the current hybrid V6s.

Intriguingly, if the idea gains support it could open the door for Renault to make a version of such an engine. Given the ongoing problems with the Renault hybrid V6 that could potentially give Red Bull Racing an alternative future path, and a chance to level the playing field, depending on how the FIA manages parity between the two types of engines.

“It’s an interesting concept,” Horner told this writer. “We ought to have a good look at it and explore the pros and cons, to be honest with you. It’s happened before, and you might get certain engines competitive at different tracks, and it might move things around a bit. It’s certainly worth a good debate.

“It’s certainly interesting. I would think Renault would certainly consider it – it’s more of a question for Renault than it is for me. But I would have thought they would certainly consider it.”

The biggest challenge is how the FIA would ensure that there’s far competition between the two types.

“There are all kinds of permutations that clever engineers can come up with, but first of all let’s have a look at the concept. These days simulation is very accurate, we can simulate what the outcome could be, and then decisions could be made on an informed basis rather than guessing.”

Asked what the odds were on F1 ending up with two engine specs in the future Horner said: “No idea. Ask me in a month…”


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Kvyat will get stronger and stronger, says Horner

Red Bull boss Christian Horner says that Daniil Kvyat’s drive to ninth place in Bahrain will serve as a big boost for the Russian, who has had a difficult start to his first season with RBR.

Although Kvyat earned the same result in Malaysia this time he has to fight his way up from 17th after a troubled qualifying session.

“I think both drivers did a good job, they got everything they could out of it,” Horner told this writer. “The recovery Dany had from 17th was pretty good really. He drove a good race in Malaysia, but he’s had the lion’s share of bad luck. If anything’s gone wrong it’s tended to happen with him.

“It’s good for his confidence, a race like that. He just needs a clean weekend really, and the potential’s there. Then you’ll see him just get stronger and stronger.”

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Renault Sport confident that reorganisation will pay off

Renault Sport managing director Cyril Abiteboul is confident that a restructuring of the organisation will pay dividends in 2015.

After a difficult debut with the V6 turbo – which nevertheless saw three victories for Daniel Ricciardo – Renault will supply only Red Bull and Toro Rosso this year, unless Caterham is able to survive in some form.

“F1 constantly moves forward at a very fast rate,” said Abiteboul. “The sport evolves, technology evolves and the competition never sleeps so Viry needs to evolve at the same rate. Viry needed a refresh. We did not suffer from a lack of resources or finances in 2014, it was simply that the resources were not joined up in time or used to their optimum.

“In the short gap between seasons we have therefore taken a number of steps forward. First and foremost we have implemented a new organisational structure. There are a number of changes in this new structure. I’ll underline three of them to indicate where the focus will be in 2015.

“This new structure will emphasise the need for perpetual change and adaptation within Renault Sport F1. This will be achieved through two new streams led by Rob White and Jean-Paul Gousset. As Chief Technical Officer, Rob will use his in-depth knowledge of Renault Sport F1 to set the strategy and road map for the acquisition, development and utilisation of technical skills within the company. Naturally this will always be with a close eye on our F1 project.

“In parallel, F1 performance is driven by human performance. Jean-Paul, who was previously head of production, is now appointed as Organization Performance Officer, and becomes responsible for organisational matters, procedures and protocols, from the small details to the large changes that together create and harness the racing spirit we want to see in Viry-Châtillon.

“Another substantial change is the creation of the Development Department, headed by Naoki Tokunaga. In addition to overseeing the Engineering Department, which is still managed by Jean-Philippe Mercier, Naoki will be directly responsible for Performance and Reliability Groups. These two groups are tasked with clear responsibilities as their name suggests, and allow us to get closer to the organisational model of F1 teams nowadays. This should build natural bridges and synergies with our customers.

“The last noticeable change is that Rémi Taffin will now oversee all track and factory operations, including assembly and dynos, in addition to continuing to look after the track operations. Regrouping all operations under one person aims to bring the excellent spirit of the track to the factory, simplifies our lines of communications, allows us to simplifies our lines of communications, allowing us to respond to changes or needs more quickly and ensure overall quality control and cost efficiency towards our internal and external customers.

“It is still very early to see the direct effects but all the changes are made for long term gain. We should start to see the full impact in development by the mid-season with greater flexibility, dynamism and efficiency across all our operations.”

Abiteboul remains confident that Renault can do better than the three victories achieved with Red Bull last season.

“We knew what we had to do over the winter and we know what we have achieved. We believe we have made a very big step in performance and will be more reliable. We do not know where the others will be: we may not have erased all the gaps, but we are confident that we have gone a long way to making up the deficit of last season.

“Our objective is to close the gap as much as possible and give Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso a more competitive car on most circuits, independently of their characteristics and sensitivities.”

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