Red Bull, Renault brush off ‘break-up’

Sunday Mail - - SPORT - BEN MCKAY MEL­BOURNE

THE For­mula One giants Renault and Red Bull have de­scribed as “spec­u­la­tion” re­ports that they will be end­ing their en­gine part­ner­ship af­ter next sea­son.

The pair won four con­sec­u­tive driv­ers’ and con­struc­tors’ ti­tles to­gether at the turn of the decade but the re­la­tion­ship has been frac­tious since a new 1.6 litre V6 turbo hy­brid power unit was in­tro­duced in 2014.

Renault’s en­gines have proved less com­pet­i­tive than those of ri­vals Mercedes and Fer­rari, bring­ing the pair to the brink of a di­vorce that was only averted when Red Bull failed to find an al­ter­na­tive sup­ply.

The team cur­rently run Renault en­gines un­der TAGHeuer brand­ing.

“We will have a TAG Heuer Renault-pro­vided en­gine and that will be the case for next year,” Red Bull prin­ci­pal Chris­tian Horner said. “Any­thing be­yond that is spec­u­la­tion, con­jec­ture, and there will be all kinds of ru­mours, I’m sure, be­tween now and then.’’

With Honda leav­ing McLaren for Red Bull-owned Toro Rosso, that deal al­lows Red Bull to eval­u­ate the Ja­panese man­u­fac­turer’s per­for­mance next sea­son with a view to sub­se­quently us­ing Honda en­gines as well.

Should Renault de­cide not to sup­ply Red Bull af­ter next year, the team owned by Aus­trian en­ergy drinks bil­lion­aire Di­et­rich Mates­chitz would have no choice but to run Honda in 2019. That could make it hard for it to hang on to its race-win­ning driv­ers Daniel Ric­cia­rdo and Max Ver­stap­pen.

“It’s down to us to pro­duce a good car, be com­pet­i­tive and then, of course, why would the driv­ers want to be any­where else?” said Horner. CAM Wa­ters has taken pole po­si­tion for to­day’s Sandown 500 on a qual­i­fy­ing day marred by a ma­jor crash to Su­per­cars young gun Todd Hazel­wood.

Wa­ters, with Kiwi co-driver Richie Stan­away, stole a march on their more ex­pe­ri­enced ri­vals yes­ter­day and will share the front row of the grid with the fel­low Fal­con of series leader Scott McLaugh­lin.

The Pro­drive Rac­ing pair com­bined beau­ti­fully in Mel­bourne.

Stan­away surged to be third with stun­ning ease af­ter the co-driv­ers’ qual­i­fy­ing race. Watch live on FoxS­ports from 8.30am to­day

Wa­ters fin­ished the job in the full-time driv­ers’ race by jump­ing front-row starters McLaugh­lin and David Reynolds off the line.

He held off a de­ter­mined chal­lenge for McLaugh­lin to grab a sec­ond pole po­si­tion of his Su­per­cars ca­reer.

“I’m ab­so­lutely pumped and didn’t ex­pect it,” Wa­ters said. “From the start the car was amaz­ing.

“We’re in with a re­ally good shot.

“I wanted to do a burnout at the end but it wasn’t a race.”

Stan­away said it was a “per­fect day to­day. . . an amaz­ing re­sult for the team”.

McLaugh­lin will be con­tent with sec­ond place, al­though Jamie Whin­cup - his clos­est cham­pi­onship ri­val - lurks be­hind in fourth.

Reynolds and Luke Youlden pi­loted the best-per­formed Holden, and will be­gin in third.

Reynolds said the team had been con­cerned af­ter Friday’s ses­sions in which they had been slow in the wet con­di­tions.

“But we didn’t change the car since we rolled out, we stuck with our base set-up and it’s ob­vi­ously paid off. It’s a jet,’’ he said.

The third row of the grid will be filled with two more Fal­cons - Fabian Coulthard of DJR Team Penske and Chaz Mostert, who smashed his own race lap record.

Mean­while, Brad Jones Rac­ing will be a car down for to­day’s race af­ter Hazel­wood’s as­ton­ish­ing crash.

The 21-year-old was sent hurtling into the tyre wall from a 260km/h straight af­ter Jono Webb failed to yield in the co­drivers’ race. His Com­modore was wrecked in the im­pact, while Hazel­wood was able to walk away and later raced in the devel­op­ment series.

Webb’s Te­kno Au­tosports Holden couldn’t com­plete qual­i­fy­ing and - if re­paired will start from the back to­day.

Reign­ing cham­pion Shane van Gis­ber­gen has it all to do to­day af­ter a dire day.

He tan­gled with Coulthard in prac­tice, saw co-driver Matt Camp­bell miss the start in his race be­fore botch­ing a pass­ing move of his own to fin­ish 19th.

Team-mate Craig Lown­des also suf­fered from a power steer­ing is­sue and will start from 24th in the 500km clas­sic.

Pic­ture: AAP/DAVID CROSLING

CLAS­SIC DRIVE: Cameron Wa­ters in ac­tion at Sandown Race­way in Victoria yes­ter­day in prepa­ra­tion for to­day’s Sandown 500.

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