Tag Archives: Red Bull

FIA made right calls on Vettel/Alonso fight, says Horner

Christian Horner says that the battle between Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso at Silverstone was a fair one, despite some controversy about how much of the run-off area they were using.

Both drivers complained on team radio about their rival exceeding track limits, something that the FIA had brought up before the race. Vettel eventually got past, and pulled away to claim fifth.

“It was two guys going at it hammer and tongs,” said Horner. “And it was great racing. The problem is they’ve introduced all these rules about circuit limits. They’re both professional, they’re both going to be pointing out the errors of the other. At the end of the day it was great racing. Sebastian made a massive move.

“It was on the limit, but it was racing, firm racing. Seb made his move stick, and he was very, very brave. Fernando is the type of driver that you can go wheel to wheel with like that, and he’ll just about give you the space, but no more.”

Both drivers received warnings from the FIA about exceeding track limits.

“They were both on the limit. It was six of one and half a dozen of the other. It would be wrong to penalise one of them. Fernando was benefiting at Turns 9 and 18 constantly, which Sebastian was quick to point out. And Sebastian was doing whatever he could to try and pass him.

“Charlie [Whiting] pointed out a couple of times track limits to Seb, and Alonso got a warning flag, which was for track limits. The problem is when you’ve got run-off like that, and it’s quicker, drivers are going to want to abuse it.”

Horner said that the FIA made the right calls: “I think that we’ve just made a move to allow a bit more freedom to allow the guys to race. I think that’s a good thing. The problem is there have got to be rules, but where’s the line? And you’ve got to give the stewards a degree of freedom to make sensible decisions.”

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Red Bull set to take over Viry and design new engine for 2016?

Rumours to the effect that Renault could be planning to sell its F1 engine department in Viry come at exactly the same time as suggestions from Helmut Marko that Red Bull wants to do its own thing on the power unit front – and it’s not hard to tie the two together.

Sources suggest that rather than attempt to start its own engine operation from scratch there are plans for Red Bull to take control of the Viry operation, although whether that would involve an outright purchase of the facility in the short term is not yet clear.

It’s worth noting that Dr Marko has been spending a lot of time at Viry recently. The suggestion is that Caterham boss Cyril Abiteboul, respected by Red Bull and previously a leading light at Viry as Deputy Managing Director of Renault Sport F1, might return to oversee any restructuring.

With Renault’s agreement Red Bull would introduce its own systems and key personnel in an attempt to improve the current power unit within the homologation rules for 2015. It would then use the Viry facilities to build a new unit to a Red Bull design for use in 2016 and beyond.

If that happens it could transform the future prospects of Red Bull Racing and help the team to hang on to the frustrated Sebastian Vettel.

On Sunday in Austria Christian Horner hinted at a restructuring at Viry: “There needs to be change at Renault, because it can’t continue like this. It’s not good for Renault, it’s not good for Red Bull. We need to work together as partners – there will not be another engine in the back of the car next year. We want to be competitive, we want to run at the front, and these kinds of issues can’t and shouldn’t happen.

“Something needs to happen, because whatever’s being done there is not working at the moment. It’s not our business, it’s not our responsibility, we’re the end user. It’s just frustrating that the product is just not working at the moment.”

As Horner noted, Red Bull is committed to using the current Renault engine next year. While the immediate priority will be to take full advantage of the FIA’s winter update window, the intention is to abandon the currently homologated engine and start afresh using all the knowledge gained by Renault and Red Bull in recent months, and from observations of the route Mercedes has taken.

A brand new power unit – perhaps badged as a Red Bull or Infiniti – could then be homologated for 2016. In theory it would be several steps ahead of what the regulations would allow Renault to update should the company simply continue with the current unit.

This new engine would not be designed by the team that produced the current Renault, but will instead be a product of the new Red Bull technology centre, which will be overseen by Adrian Newey. His old pal and Ilmor founder Mario Ilien is expected be part of the process, and it won’t be hard to draw on ex-Mercedes/Cosworth personnel in the Milton Keynes/Northampton area.

Mercedes and Ferrari clearly won’t be happy at the idea of Renault/Viry having this opportunity to in effect by-pass the homologation rules and enjoy a second chance build a V6 turbo power unit, even if is badged with a different name.

However, the key thing as far as the FIA is concerned is that Red Bull would own the IP of the new engine, and it would not be seen as a second attempt by Renault.

While this would be an expensive exercise, the drinks company is already paying two substantial power unit bills each year for RBR and Toro Rosso, and simply adding those figures together represents a good starting point for the budget required.

In addition sources say that Red Bull (and in particular Dr Marko) has been paying close attention lately to the future of Caterham, which is expected to announce a restructuring in the near future. The team is already a customer for the Red Bull gearbox, and it would be natural for the deal to be extended to cover a power unit package as well, which would provide further income to offset Red Bull’s costs. Caterham would be even more closely allied to Red Bull than it is now, as a ‘friendly’ third team.

With the more influential Lotus now expected to defect to Mercedes (see yesterday’s story) it would be much easier for Red Bull to have control of Viry. However, there could still be a fourth paying customer in the form of the new Romanian team, FRR.

The loss of Renault identity would suit Infiniti, which is keen to distance itself from the Renault name, which does not have the high-end associations it desires. Indeed Infiniti could help Red Bull to ultimately buy Viry or even, in a bit of intra company corporate business, take it over from Renault.

Some of the details are yet to emerge, but sources suggest that the scenario as explained above is a realistic one. Having said that when I asked Horner on Sunday if it was possible for Red Bull to do its own engine, he said: “It’s highly improbable. First of all we need to see what the plans of Renault are. Obviously a team like Red Bull isn’t short of choices, but we want to make sure that we’re competitive for the long term. Obviously designing and manufacturing our own engine currently isn’t part of our plan.”

It could be argued that he didn’t deny that someone else could manufacture it on Red Bull’s behalf. Indeed when I asked Christian if it would be possible under the rules for Viry to build a new engine for Red Bull, badged as something else, he simply smiled and said he believed it was…

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Daniel Ricciardo: “The race came to life at the end…”

Daniel Ricciardo scored a hugely popular maiden GP victory in Canada, and while it took a little bad luck for Mercedes to make it happen, the Aussie had to be there to take advantage.

Crucially he got ahead of team mate Sebastian Vettel at the final stops, and then passed Sergio Perez with five laps to go. Two laps after that he was able to blast past the Mercedes of a struggling Nico Rosberg to claim the lead.

“It’s not that we were leading the whole race,” said Ricciardo. “So it’s not that I had time to understand that I was going to win, it all happened in the last few laps, so I think that’s why it’s still taking a while to comprehend in my head. But really nice, a really good feeling. The race came to life at the end. Mercedes had their issues and it enable us to close on them. We had a good fight with Perez and we were really struggling to pass them.

“They had, as we know, a really strong car down the straight and it was doing a good job through the corners as well to keep me behind. But then out of the last chicane I got a really good run on him and made the move stick in turns one and two. I was close to overshooting it, dropped a couple of wheels in the grass but it was fine and then Nico in the closing stages. Really, really nice. I wasn’t sure if the two drivers on the last lap were OK, so I just wanted to make sure they were cool before we got celebrating, but I believe they’re fine so really, really happy with the result.”

Ricciardo said he’d worked hard to find a way past Perez.

“To be honest I was trying the whole time I was behind him. I was looking for opportunities and, as I said, he was driving well and wasn’t making any mistakes and realistically I needed a bit of a mistake from him because they were just getting off the corner so well. But then I think, yeah, he got quite close to Nico and perhaps just overshot the braking a little bit in the last chicane. I managed to just stay with him on the exit, get the tow and use the DRS.

“I knew we were strong braking into Turn One, we were really quick into there so, yeah, once I had the outside line free I just basically went in and made it work. Yeah, that was the place I wanted to do it – but as I said, I was trying all the time and it was just then that the opportunity came – but I wasn’t really holding back!”

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Christian Horner: “We are now where we should have been in January…”

Christian Horner says that Red Bull is making progress in its pursuit of Mercedes – but says much still depends on what Renault can do.

At a track where the emphasis switched from the power unit to the chassis Daniel Ricciardo finished a strong third in Monaco, although Sebastian Vettel suffered a disappointing turbo failure.

“Daniel was amazing, considering where he was after the first lap,” Horner said when asked by this writer. “We got a little bit lucky with the puncture for Raikkonen. But his pace was very good. He looked after the tyres well and pushed hard at the end of the race. He was certainly than Lewis, but no chance to overtake. It was certainly the closest we’ve been. So we’re getting there. It’s the first time this year we’ve been racing a Mercedes, so it’s definitely a step in the right direction.”

Horner remains confident that Red Bull can continue to close on its main rivals.

“We’re clearly the second quickest team at the moment, and we’re nibbling into that gap of Mercedes. It’s nothing short of commitment and hard work and clever design that’s going to close that gap.

“We’re very much in Renault’s hands. We are making progress, they’re making progress, Total on the fuel side have been making progress. But really we are now where we should have been in January. And Mercedes obviously aren’t standing still. But we’re only at race six, there’s still a long way to go in this championship.”

Horner admits that the next race in Canada could be more difficult, due to the extra focus on the power unit.

“Montreal is going to be a challenging race for us, and it will be interesting to see how we fair there. Obviously Renault are working hard behind the scenes. We were much, much closer [in Monaco], it’s the first time we’ve raced Mercedes this year. Dan’s pace, particularly in the last third of the race, he was the quickest car on the track.

“So I think we take a lot of confidence out of that. But you’re going from one extreme to the other. Here’s all about handling characteristics, the next event will be predominantly straightline performance. It’s going to be very interesting to see how we fare against the Mercedes powered teams in Montreal.”

Regarding Vettel’s Monaco disappointment he said: “Obviously this weekend was pretty tough on him. He’s smart enough to recognise that, so of course, like any sportsman he’s going to be frustrated when things go wrong. There will be time to take a breath and reflect. He’ll just keep working away at it, it’s the nature of who he is that he never gives up, he’ll keep his head down and keep working harder and harder.”

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Sebastian Vettel: “We’ve had all sorts of problems…”

Sebastian Vettel will start the Spanish GP from 10th place after suffering a gearbox problem at the start of Q3.

Should the team decide that the gearbox needs to be changed for the race he could yet drop a further five places.

“I’m quite disappointed today,” said Vettel. “I didn’t get much time at all this weekend in the car. Obviously a gearbox issue stopped us running in Q3.

“I left the garage and I lost drive in second gear. Obviously it was clear there was a problem, but I still had third gear, so I thought OK I’ll manage the lap without second gear. Unfortunately then by Turn One I lost all the other gears.

“There’s not much I can do. Of course it’s a bit disappointing, and by now a bit boring. We’ve had all sorts of problems. We still managed to get into Q3, so we’re 10th I guess. Still anything can happen tomorrow, hopefully there’s no damage to the gearbox.”

Vettel said his lack of running on Friday was expensive: “I think I needed more and more laps, I was getting more and more in the rhythm. Obviously I missed yesterday. I thought it would be worth shooting for P3, I think that’s what we have in the car, but we never got that far.

“Tricky conditions today, I think everybody is running out of tyres towards the end of the lap. You’re never 100% happy. We had a good shot, probably, to what the car could do today. P3 was probably our maximum.”

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Ricciardo has surprised us, says Helmut Marko

Red Bull motor sport boss Dr Helmut Marko admits that he’s been surprised by the impressive form of Daniel Ricciardo thus far in 2014.

Marko says he hadn’t expected the Australia to adapt so well to life at RBR.

“We’re really happy and satisfied with what he’s delivering,” Marko told this writer. “He has to learn a few things – mainly the pit stops he’s always losing out, he’s coming in either too slow, or braking twice. But I’m sure that will be solved.

“To be honest he’s surprising us. We knew he was quick, but being quick and using less tyres [than Vettel], and always being there, it doesn’t matter what pressure.

“And he’s unlucky. In Bahrain one more lap he would have been on the podium, in China two more laps he would have been on the podium. But he’s always in a good mood and smiling.”

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Red Bull relying on Renault finding speed, says Horner

Christian Horner says Red Bull has exceeded expectations in the first two races given the problems experienced in testing.

Horner says that the gap to Mercedes largely reflects a disparity in straightline performance, but remains confident that the French manufacturer can make progress.

“It’s a big gap, they’ve obviously got plenty up their sleeve at the moment,” he said. “And I think we’ve done incredibly well to get as close to them as we did this weekend. Their advantage is clear, it’s in a straight line, and we’re working hard with the guys from Viry.

“Considering where we’re at with the engine to be doing what we’re doing is beyond expectation. Renault know there’s a lot more to come once they sort out driveability issues and so on. Hopefully our curve in terms of catching up on straightline speed, whilst it’s steep, we should hopefully be able to make steps.”

Horner said Renault can move forward despite the homologation of the mechanical elements of the engine, as there is still a lot to come from software.

“Yes, I think they can, because a lot of their issues are software related. Hopefully the steps can be made, and we can close that gap down. But it’s not just Renault, you saw Alonso today against Hulkenberg – Alonso on a new set of tyres, DRS fully open, couldn’t pass Hulkenberg on a scrubbed set of tyres. It’s not just Renault. Mercedes, hats off to them, have done a very good job over the winter with this new engine, with this new technology. We’ve got to work very hard to catch them.

“It’s a matter of getting all three elements working in harmony, there’s obviously the combustion engine, the turbo, and the energy recovery system, which affects your braking as much as it does your acceleration and power delivery.”

As for the next race he said: “I don’t think we’re going to have a solution overnight. It doesn’t tend to rain in Bahrain much either. We’re going to obviously try to make as much progress as we can in the week. The dynos are busy running in Paris. And hopefully we nudge a bit closer to them again if it all possible next weekend.”

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Daniel Ricciardo: “I definitely don’t want to be a one-hit wonder…”

Daniel Ricciardo insists that he was quickly able to put the disappointment of his Australian GP exclusion behind him, despite his obvious frustration.

The RBR driver says he has focussed on the positives from a race that saw him finish a popular second on the road.

“I’ve obviously had a bit of time to get over it so I’m alright now,” he said. “but Sunday was a bit disappointing obviously, it’s not the news that you want to hear when you’re trying to celebrate. Sunday night I guess I had a bit of time to think, and Monday as well I had a few cameras in my face at the airport. They let me know about it! So I couldn’t really escape it for about 24 hours, but after that I was home. I was staying occupied and not thinking about it too much more. In any case I definitely took more positives out of the result and that weekend than that negative.

“I try and stay relaxed and laid back about it all. I did the race, I did what I felt was the best I could, and then all the controversy afterwards it was not really my fight, not my position to be involved in any more, that was for the team to take over with. I was proud with what I did, I did the job that I felt I could have and should have done. The rest was out of my control.

“I would have much preferred the result I got, a second on track and having it taken away rather than having a poor start and just running around in eighth or tenth and just having a bit of a nothing race.”

He also feels that he’s proved a point: “For me personally now I’ve proved that I can race up the front. I just have to try to continue to keep going it. I definitely don’t want to be a one-hit wonder. Whether we get the points back or not, there’s still a lot of races to go, and hopefully the points will accumulate to a good position by the end of the season. There’s still a lot going on for me, and I’ll try and keep as many points as I can this weekend – and hopefully keep them!”

Ricciardo said that the saga had gained him a lot of sympathy back home in Australia.

“I got a lot of support after it, a lot of sympathy I guess. I probably gained a few fans, actually! For let’s say an Australian fan I guess they’d waited so many years to see an Aussie on the podium, and they’d finally done it at home. It was like a massive celebration for everyone, and then someone took it off them. Obviously they weren’t happy with the outcome of course, as not many of us were. I feel the same way they do!”

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Sebastian Vettel: “We might have the best car, I don’t know…”

Sebastian Vettel remains confident that the Red Bull RB10 will improve despite ongoing problems for his team in Bahrain today.

Vettel stopped on circuit after an issue with the rear brakes locked the rear wheels, and a minor fire ensued. The team insisted that issues had been addressed since Jerez, and that a new problem cropped up today.

“Obviously we’re not happy with where we are right now, but we’ve still got a long way ahead of us,” said Vettel. “It’s fairly difficult to judge where we are. I haven’t had much of the car yet. The first gut feel is OK, but surely we need more running to judge the car, to judge reliability, to judge general performance.

“It’s not easy to find a quick fix, but I think we understand the problems. As I said it’s not that easy to find the solution for the problems we found. We fixed the problems from [Jerez], we had a problem with temperature, which we seemed to fix, at least with the couple of laps we could do. But very often you fix one problem, and another problem pops up.

“There’s stuff to do on the Red Bull Racing side, in terms of reliability, temperatures, general around the car. And there’s stuff on the Renault side. But it’s not fair to separate those two. We are a team, and we’ve been very successful in the last years together. Now it’s obviously not the start we were hoping for, but we’ve obviously got some time, and clever people on board, which hopefully can fix the problems.”

Asked if this was a strange situation for him to have a bad car, Vettel pointed that it would be wrong to write off RBR in terms of competitiveness, because the car hasn’t yet run shown its potential.

“It’s more strange not to know how good the car is – we might have the best car, I don’t know. We can say that it’s not the most reliable right now, but that’s what testing is for. It’s zero points for everyone.

“Surely all the homework you get done in the winter testing helps you, certainly at the beginning of the season, because you don’t need to catch up. We’ve still got some days left. I think we know what is going on, but as you can see it’s not that easy to fix, otherwise we wouldn’t volunteer to do only 14 laps.”

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Christian Horner: “It’s obvious that Renault has had a few issues…”

Red Bull boss Christian Horner remains confident that Renault will be able to address the issues that have afflicted the RB10 this week.

Sebastian Vettel has logged only 11 laps after the car suffered problems with its energy store, one of the key elements of the energy recovery system.

“I think this test was always designed to be a systems check,” Horner told this writer. “It’s obvious that Renault have had a few issues down here that they’re working hard to get on top of. I’m sure that with more dyno time, and bit more track time, they should be fine.

“Of course any track time is valuable, we’ve just got to make sure we recover it in the remaining test days.”

The car emerged late yesterday after the team had a problem of its own, before the Renault issues struck.

“It was internal within the gearbox, and it was an issue that cost us a bit of track time, but our track time was curtailed at the end of the day anyway.”

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