Tag Archives: Red Bull Racing

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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Paddy Lowe: Red Bull’s engine proposal is “all about self-interest”

Mercedes F1 technical chief Paddy Lowe says that Red Bull’s push for changes to power unit rules is motivated purely by self-interest.

Christian Horner and Helmut Marko have both called for a move to a ‘low-tech’ twin-turbo V6 for 2016, which they also claim will cost less.

“Apparently a twin-turbo is supposed to be cheaper and a cost saving measure against a single turbo,” Lowe told this writer. “I haven’t quite worked that one out! Perhaps we’ll find out how that works.

“We’ve got clear rules, it was all designed with everyone’s agreement. The reason you have rules for stability in F1, particularly around the power unit, is that it allows people to set good regulations at a distance to be uninvolved with your relative performance. When people are asking for rule changes at short notice it’s all about self-interest.

“Nothing could be a clearer example than what we’re seeing, where somebody is feeling that he’s not on top of the heap at the moment, therefore the rules are all wrong. I don’t remember that happening before. I’ve worked in teams who have had good years and very bad years, I don’t remember anyone ever saying that we should change the rules so that I can win again. I don’t get it.”

Lowe is particularly sceptical about the cost element: “It completely contradicts all the other discussions in F1 which are around being cost effective and maintaining a platform whereby teams can compete whether they are financed as we are one end of the grid, or at the other. There is one simple fact in F1, rule changes cost money, particularly ones involving the engine, so it’s just the most ridiculous idea I’ve ever heard for how to save costs in F1.”

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Helmut Marko: “We have to change back to a racing engine…”

Red Bull’s push for a change of engine formula for 2016 is likely to continue to be a major talking point in the coming months, although it remains to be seen how much support the team gets.

Christian Horner and Helmut Marko share the view that the sport should go back to a simpler twin-turbo version of the current V6, which would create a better sound and allow the drivers more input into how it is operated.

Such a change could in theory be introduced for 2016 via a majority vote in the F1 Commission, should the idea get past the Strategy Group. Although Bernie Ecclestone supports change, it seems highly unlikely that it will progress. Clearly Mercedes and its customer teams will oppose any change, as will Honda, the Japanese manufacturer having just spent enormous resources on readying its hybrid power unit for 2015.

“For next year everything goes by regulations,” Marko told this writer. “We don’t ask any favours from Mercedes, we go with what the regulations allow. We hope to have a reasonable increase in performance. We can’t catch Mercedes, we know, but we want to be nearer.

“And for 2016 it’s all a new game. As Christian has said we want a new engine, because this engine is so expensive and so complicated. It’s steered by engineers. What we want is a racing engine with noise, and where the driver is in charge.

“Cost-wise, the costs can be reduced we hope by more than 50%. I think a V6 or a V8 is for sure less expensive than what we have at the moment. We could use this V6 and put a second turbo, with the wastegate, and you have the noise then. And you could put on a standard KERS, like we had on last year, and the cost that we calculated is 50% down.”

Marko is adamant that fans want the change: “We have to think globally. The viewing figures are going down, and the interest generally, and these engines are unfortunately, not the right development. It proved what F1 technology can do, but for the medium term we have to change back to a racing engine.”

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Vergne reveals that he’s been dropped by Toro Rosso

Jean-Eric Vergne has used Twitter to reveal that he won’t be driving for Toro Rosso next year.

Red Bull’s Helmut Marko told this writer in Abu Dhabi that an announcement would come next week, so clearly Vergne has decided to or been allowed to pre-empt that.

Once source told this writer than Vergne has known since August – in effect when Max Verstappen entered the picture – that he would be out. It’s understood that team principal Franz Tost was keen to retain him in order to have one experienced driver in the line-up, but the decision was made by Red Bull.

The Frenchman said: “Despite a good season & 22 pts, I’ll not drive anymore for Toro Rosso in 2015. Thanks for those years. Let’s go for another big challenge.”

Confirmation of his departure obviously leaves the door open for Carlos Sainz Jr, who drove for Red Bull in Abu Dhabi yesterday. GP3 champion Alex Lynn, who tested for Lotus today, could be the logical choice as third driver for STR/RBR.

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Sebastian Vettel: “It has been an incredible journey”

Sebastian Vettel’s six-year stint with Red Bull Racing came to an end with a frustrating drive from the pitlane to eighth place in Abu Dhabi, and as such it was a disappointing day for the putgoing World Champion.

The German got caught behind other cars and ultimately finished 35 seconds behind team mate Daniel Ricciardo, who also started from the pits. After the race Vettel admitted that his farewell weekend had been an emotional one.

“Once you’re in the car, and in that case the pit exit light goes green, you’re back in the rhythm and you do your race,” he said. “You don’t really have time to think about too many things. For sure crossing the line, it’s different coming back to all the previous years. This season hasn’t been great, so jumping out of the car, and not being happy with the race, for now I’m not the happiest guy.”

Reflecting on the end of his time at Red Bull he said: “I think it has been an incredible journey. Obviously we didn’t expect that when we started working together. You can never expect four titles, drivers’ and constructors’, in a row. Obviously you get to know some people in a very good way, you go through happy days, sad days. I think I learned a lot. That’s why I feel ready for the next step.”

Meanwhile he expects Mercedes to continue its winning form into next season.

“First of all they are the favourites going into the next season. I think it will very tough for [Lewis] to keep Nico behind, I think they had a very tight battle. I think Nico surprise a lot of people in many ways. I think it will be tight amongst then, and for the rest we will try our best to try and catch up. For now, in terms of regs, it doesn’t look like there’s too much progress being made, with Mercedes blocking the other teams. We have to wait and see what happens.”

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