Red Bull pin hopes on Renault engine upgrade
Renault plan major upgrade for Russian GP that could take former world champions Red Bull to within 20bhp of Mercedes
Red Bull are pushing Renault hard to press on with building a new engine that will close the performance gap to the leading power units.
Renault are around 50bhp behind Mercedes and Ferrari, having failed to make any real progress with their engine over the winter.
A single-cylinder engine run on the dynamometer at Renault Sport’s base at Viry-Chatillon near Paris has shown an improvement of in the region of 2-4 per cent. If this translates to the full-size six-cylinder engine, it would bring Renault to within 20-35bhp of the Mercedes engine.
This would enable Red Bull to run their cars without the aerodynamic compromises required on most tracks because they are down on power. That might be just enough for them to challenge Ferrari and Williams for best-ofthe-rest status behind Mercedes.
Renault Sport boss Cyril Abiteboul has promised a signicant change for the better. “There will be an improvement to the engine, an upgrade in the course of this season,” he said, “and I really hope this will be the type of upgrade that is visible not just to our customers and performance engineers but to everyone – including me.”
The upgrades are aimed at improving the combustion process of the Renault engine, which both parties accept is its major shortfall compared to Mercedes.
Red Bull are keeping up the pressure, both privately and in public. Over a difcult 18 months, the former world champion constructors have frequently and severely criticised the engine partner with whom they won four consecutive world title doubles.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says the earliest the upgrade can be expected is at the Russian Grand Prix. “They now have some strategic decisions about implementation, and the direction they want to take their development for the rest of this season – and that has an impact on next year,” Horner said.
“Of course it tests our patience. Like any competitive team we want performance yesterday, and with engines the lead time is a lot longer than with the chassis. Patience is something that we are not really good at. We want to have performance as soon as possible.
“From where the concept is at the moment you are looking at least at a couple of months. It needs to happen this year – but also what we learn this year will help us next season.”
An impatient Red Bull have had to compromise on aerodynamics this year to make up for the lack of power from their Renault PU