Tag Archives: Red Bull Racing

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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Red Bull doesn’t want third cars, Horner insists

Christian Horner denies that any progress has been made on the plan to run third cars in 2015, despite the smaller teams believing that discussions have progressed on the subject.

In theory Bernie Ecclestone has the right to request RBR, Ferrari and McLaren to field extra entries should the grid fall below 18.

In addition to the alternative path of customer cars the idea of Super GP2 – in effect a Class B to bolster the F1 field – was mentioned in discussions last weekend. Lotus, Sauber and Force India are vehemently opposed to any change to the current system, and all three suspect that moves are already in hand to make changes that put a focus on the top five teams.

“Not at all,” said Horner when asked if there was an agenda. “Certainly Red Bull’s position is that we want to see a full grid of two car teams. We have an obligation, as do a couple of other teams, that if the numbers drop below a certain number, then we will be required by the promoter to field a third car. The numbers haven’t dropped significantly low enough, and we haven’t been requested by the promoter to run a third car. Our preference is that we have at least 10 healthy competing two-car teams.

“I think the third car is only a scenario if the numbers drop, and at the moment it’s not something that we’re planning, it’s not something that we are pushing for. If we were requested to do it, the obviously we would have to look at it at that point.

“Personally I’m not a big fan of three-car teams. I think it’s moving away from what F1 should be. But of there’s no option, no alternative, then Red Bull would have a commitment that yes, we would have to field a third car.”

Regarding the extra cost he said: “If there was a third car that was requested to be run, we couldn’t do it within our existing budget. You’re looking at €35-40m.”

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Red Bull not pursuing its own power unit, Horner insists

Red Bull has referred to "our Formula One power unit" in Autosport job ads

Red Bull has referred to “our Formula One power unit” in Autosport job ads

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.”

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Christian Horner: “Sebastian is having a tough time at the moment…”

Christian Horner expects Sebastian Vettel to get to the bottom of the problems that have held him back thus far in 2014.

The World Champion is not fully comfortable with the RB10, and has been suffering through being harder on the tyres than team mate Daniel Ricciardo.

In China Vettel was asked to move over and let the Australian past, and a discussion followed before the pair finally changed places.

“Obviously Sebastian is having a tough time at the moment, because he hasn’t got that feeling from the car that he’s looking for,” said Horner. “He’s tremendously sensitive to certain aspects of the set-up, and he’s not getting the feedback from the car that he wants. And then the compound effect of that is that he’s damaging the tyre more.

“Which is very unusual for Seb, as we’ve seen since Pirellis were introduced. It’s highly unusual for him to be going through the tyre life quicker than the average. That’s just the culmination of the issues that he’s currently got, and as soon as we’ve worked those out he’ll be back with a bang.

“He’s just going through the tyre quicker, the tyre’s opening up quicker with him because he’s not found that sweet spot that he requires. Whereas Daniel as we saw on Friday had extremely good tyre degradation, and did so again today.”

Horner said he understood why Vettel was initially reluctant to let his team mate past.

“He’s a racer, and of course he asked us first of all what tye is Daniel on? And then at that point what he didn’t realise was that we were looking at a different strategy, because Seb was going through the tyre phases quicker, to convert Sebastian onto a three-stop. As soon as he understood that he immediately let him through, and you could see that he simply didn’t have the pace to hold him back. Therefore it was pointless.

“The situation was that his tyres were quite a bit older at that stage, he was going through the tyre quicker, and it looked like a three-stop. The problem was that the windows of traffic weren’t opening up for him behind. We could see that with our lack of straightline pace that overtaking, despite fresher tyres, would be difficult. So therefore in the end we concluded that a two-stop would be the best strategy for him as well.”

On the pitfalls of team orders he said: “We’re doing our best as a team, and obviously we’re trying to beat the cars ahead of us. It’s not just about out guys racing themselves. They race for a team at the end of the day, and they both understand that. Our objective is to maximise our chances, and our best chance in the race today was with Daniel.”

Meanwhile Horner was full of praise for Ricciardo’s performance.

“It was a massive performance by Dan, he’s been hugely impressive all weekend. He’s really been outstanding this season, in all four Grands Prix this year I think he’s done a tremendous job. His confidence is growing.

“He seems so calm in the car, his feedback is exceptional when he talks on the radio it’s like he’s having a coffee in a coffee shop up the road, especially with the lack of noise now you can hear it perfectly. And he’s enjoying what he’s doing, he’s enjoying being a Grand Prix driver, he’s enjoying driving for the team.”


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Daniel Ricciardo: “I’ll get my revenge and get some points…”

Daniel Ricciardo’s season with Red Bull could hardly have got off to a more unfortunate start, with his exclusion from the Australian GP followed by the pit drama in Malaysia – which has in turn triggered a 10-place penalty that will ruin his Bahrain weekend.

Nevertheless the Aussie has done an awesome job in the cockpit and convinced any sceptics that Red Bull has chosen a worthy replacement for Mark Webber.

“I definitely feel disappointed,” he said of his curtailed race. “It was looking like we could have a solid points finish, and the race was going pretty well. The start was really good and I made up a couple of positions. I was starting to mix it up at the front, which was nice, it’s fun being up there and fighting for the top few spots. But then at the last pit stop we had an issue, and we had a puncture, a front wing failure. A few other things went on, and then the stop and go. So it went pretty quickly for us from looking good to looking pretty bad in a short matter of time.”

In typical style he’s seeing the positives: “Deep down I’m really disappointed, but at the same time there’s a little bit in me which is happy, because in the first two races I’ve come out how I’ve wanted to. Obviously I still want to improve, but we started off on the right foot. So for that I’m pleased, and I know a little bit of luck will turn around soon, and I’ll get my revenge and get some points.”

In Malaysia he showed that he wasn’t afraid to mix it with the likes of Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso, which bodes well for the future.

“A lot of people probably don’t expect it because I’m always the happy guy and smiling, they think I’m too nice for that, but I’m here to race and I love racing up the front. It’s been a privilege but a lot of fun for the last couple of rounds to do it. It’s a bit addicting, I want more, so you’ll see me up there plenty of times this year.”

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Analysis: Is Alonso still in the frame at RBR?

The consensus in the paddock at Spa was that Daniel Ricciardo had already got the nod for the second Red Bull seat, and Mark Webber added fuel to the fire by telling Australian TV that it was a done deal.

However Christian Horner continues to insist that the team has yet to decide who will get the drive.

Ricciardo is signed to Red Bull Racing anyway, and in effect the team could call on his services at any time up to the start of next season. Even if the Aussie doesn’t get the RBR job he will be in a Toro Rosso with an identical powertrain/gearbox package to the RB10, and thus potentially in a competitive seat.

There appears to be no logical reason why Red Bull would not have announced Ricciardo if he had already been guaranteed the drive. Indeed from a PR standpoint an early announcement would be a show of faith in the junior programme at a time when other options were available.

The bottom line is that Horner wouldn’t be doing his job if he didn’t continue to explore other interesting options, given that Ricciardo isn’t going anywhere. Two World Champions are currently without a 2014 contract – Kimi Raikkonen and Jenson Button – while sources continue to suggest that Fernando Alonso is still not 100% committed to Ferrari.

When this writer asked Bernie Ecclestone if he thought that Felipe Massa would be staying at Maranello, he replied: “They should be more worried about hanging on to Alonso…”

The value of having two experienced, proven winners on board for what will be a complicated season for all the teams is obvious, and at the same time if RBR takes a second top driver it will in turn damage a rival.

“There’s plenty of speculation about, but nothing has been signed yet,” said Horner at Spa. “So the situation is still as I said before the race, we’ve got time to contemplate who we’re going to put in the other seat, and there will be no announcement certainly before Monza.

“Mark obviously isn’t privy to all of the discussions with drivers. When there’s something to announce, we’ll certainly announce it. It will probably go on beyond Monza.”

Elaborating on Ricciardo’s situation, he said: “Both Toro Rosso drivers are on Red Bull Racing contracts. They’re on loan to Toro Rosso, so at any point they are available for us to call upon. So we don’t have to worry about those two, because they’re products of the Red Bull junior team, and the reason we’re taking the time is to look at what other options are about.

“Obviously they are very big shoes to fill next year. We want to field the strongest possible team that we can, so therefore it’s absolutely prudent to look at all the options that are available. It’s actually surprised us the options that are available that perhaps we didn’t think were.”

It’s widely assumed that it would be impossible for Sebastian Vettel to operate alongside a proven superstar, but Horner says that’s not an issue.

“To be honest with you Sebastian has no input or veto or requirement for any blessing over that second seat. He wants obviously to have a competitive team mate, because he wants to be pushed, as Mark has pushed him. He hasn’t voiced any opinions, strongly or otherwise, in any way. He sees it very much as a team position, and that’s very much the way it is.”

While many observers struggle to understand why Alonso might want to leave Ferrari, it may well be that he simply has fears about the competitiveness of the 2014 powertrain package.

It remains unclear in what circumstances Alonso might be able to walk away from what appears to be a solid Ferrari contract, unless it contains a generous performance clause that works in his favour – for example something that relates to driver and team having failed to win a World Championship over their four years together.

Of course as ever there are some potentially some games in the background, and it’s easy to suggest that Alonso is simply finding ways to motivate his current team, while Horner is destabilising the likes of Ferrari and Lotus by keeping the driver debate open.

However, it’s worth remembering that it’s dangerous to second guess what Alonso might do. Not many people expected him to leave his home at Renault for McLaren, or indeed walk away from an ultra competitive McLaren at the end of 2007 – even allowing for the rather awkward way that season unfolded, and the breakdown of his relationship with the team management.

As someone close to Fernando said at Spa, “At McLaren he finished a point behind the champion, and he still quit…”


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Ricciardo gets his chance with Red Bull test

Not surprisingly Red Bull has changed its plans for the Silverstone Young Driver test, and the team will now be giving both race drivers and Daniel Ricciardo some miles in the RB9.

Ricciardo’s inclusion is clear evidence that the Aussie is on the cusp of landing a 2014 race seat, with Kimi Raikkonen as his obvious rival for the job.

Red Bull’s ambitious run plan sees it split each day in half as it tries to squeeze in mileage for five different drivers. The schedule is as follows:

Day 1: António Félix da Costa/Daniel Ricciardo

Day 2: António Félix da Costa/Mark Webber

Day 3: Carlos Sainz Jr/Sebastian Vettel

The team points out that “Antonio’s test with Infiniti Red Bull Racing fulfils the team’s commitment to grant the mid-season leader of the World Series by Renault a full day’s test in the RB9.”

Meanwhile Toro Rosso will be equally busy at it too runs five different drivers over the three days:

Day 1: Johnny Cecotto Jr/Johnny Cecotto Jr

Day 2: Carlos Sainz Jr/Daniel Ricciardo

Day 3: Jean-Eric Vergne/Daniil Kvyat

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