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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 decit 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 clarication 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

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