is the Renault engine. Red Bull themselves have made that abundantly clear since the start of the season – and Renault admit it, too.
Red Bull have communicated this obvious reality in an antagonistic and confrontational manner unusual for an F1 team dealing with their engine partner, and that has led to tensions with Renault. Tensions that Renault Sport boss Cyril Abiteboul insists have been “more public than private”. Depending on who you speak to, the Renault engine is between 50 and 70bhp down on the Mercedes. But more than the performance decit itself, the big question is: why haven’t Renault improved?
Ferrari, after all, have made huge progress with their engine since last year, to the point where, even following the FIA clarication imposing a minimum fuel ow, it is now pretty much equal with that of Mercedes. The speed-trap gures from Canada, in which the Mercedes- and Ferrari-engined cars were neck and neck, prove that.
In 2014, Ferrari’s engine was arguably worse than Renault’s. It might have had a little more top-end power, but its drivability and hybrid delivery were noticeably inferior. So how did Renault end up at the start of this season with an engine worse than the one with which they nished 2014?
Abiteboul is at a loss. “If I had the answer to that question,” he says, “it would not have happened.” He says the reason is linked to the problems at Renault that led them to be uncompetitive in the turbohybrid era in the rst place. He describes this as “the whole setup of the way we are working together from a technical and commercial perspective”. Horner says it was too little investment, too late.
“The reality is that there was no way we could catch up over the winter given the shortfall in performance,” Abiteboul says. “And, therefore, the only plan that could have worked was one where