Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Jerez, 2014

Renault admit “litany of issues” with Energy F1

2014 F1 season

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Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Jerez, 2014A “litany of issues” have prevented Renault from achieving meaningful running with their Energy F1 power unit, according to deputy managing director Rob White.

Renault-powered cars covered 668km during the first test at Jerez, while Ferrari completed nearly 2,000km and Mercedes in excess of 3,800km. Renault-powered world champions Red Bull covered the least distance of any team present at the test – less than 100km.

White said the root of Renaut’s problems had been traced back to inaccurate information gleaned from their engine dynamometer.

“We now know that the differences between dyno and car are bigger than we expected, with the consequence that our initial impressions were incomplete and imperfect.

“Our intention was to run the car; we are very frustrated to face this litany of issues that we should have ironed out on the dyno and which have deprived us of a precious learning opportunity.”

“We have not run enough laps, and when we have they have not been run at an acceptable performance level,” he added.

The engine supplier faced a range of different problems as a result.

“The underlying causes are not straightforward,” White explained. “There isn?t a single component or system that has caused particular trouble.”

“A number of related things have been troublesome, principally concerning the control and operation of the various sub-systems of the power unit within the car.

“For example on the first run day, we had problems with a sub-system within the energy store that did not directly concern either the battery nor the operation of the battery ?ǣ it is an electronic part that was in the same housing as the energy store.

“We subsequently had problems with turbocharger and boost control systems with knock-on effects on the associated engine management systems, subsequently provoking mechanical failures.

Renault have made several attempts to solve the problems, with varying degrees of success. “Between days one and two with the help of Red Bull, we implemented a later level of hardware for the rest of the test to address the problem within the energy store. This ran for the remaining days.”

“In parallel to running in Jerez, the team at Viry has run dyno test programs to investigate the trackside problems and to propose solutions.

“We identified the probable root cause of our main turbo control issues, implemented some workarounds that were first seen at the end of day three and deployed in the three cars for day four. This established a very minimalist baseline from which we could build.”

“We recognise that when the cars have run, they are not running at an acceptable level,” White added.

“We are a long way from the type of operation we had planned and prepared for ?ǣ largely as a result of the workarounds we have implemented ?ǣ but all the information is useful.

“In dealing with the issues we have moved further away from the configuration we were comfortable with, which has resulted in the relatively slow times, but the running has given us a vastly greater understanding of the issues we face.

“We absolutely expect to have a more definitive solution in place for the next session in Bahrain.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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91 comments on “Renault admit “litany of issues” with Energy F1”

  1. This seems like a real serious fundamental issue.

    1. Yep, if the dyno running has led them to underestimate temperatures all winter long, and they’re now having to run in configurations they don’t like to even crawl around, it doesn’t sound like they’ll have a neat solution inside 2 weeks which doesn’t involve a change in size or shape for the overall package.

      1. This has echoes of the Ferrari windtunnel: such a poor correlation with the ‘real’ aero, they were left stabbing in the dark and lost the development race. It’s no good spending millions on the perceived best drivers if you can’t get your design tools right in the first place.

      2. Sleepless nights are coming and the risk of not paying off is real.

        Red Bull Mercedes in 2015?

        1. @jcost: I doubt that Mercedes would sell engines to a real rival (as in the McLaren situation), or that Red Bull would settle for less than works status. Actually, that rules out Mercedes, Ferrari and Honda, leaving Renault as the only option. I suspect that Horner et al. will have their fingers crossed for the next two weeks!

    2. @neelv27

      Should be fixed by Bahrain though.

      1. Yes, but how many other problems will surface then if these got away?

        To be honest now I feel sorry for Renault and their customers, yes they will be in Australia with a much more reliable engine but how much slower will these cars be if they can’t be pushed at 100%

        1. I feel sorry for the customers really, and more so for Caterham because they will be on the back foot even if the issues eventually gets fixed.
          Renault was one of those actively championing the switch to these turbo engines, and one would expect they will at least be the trend setters as regards, reliability and performance.
          I don’t wish them failure, but they got arrogant and have now been humbled.

          1. I feel for STR. What a time to switch from Ferrari. I am not jumping to conclusions yet but I am jumping on the foregone conclusion ie. Jerez test

          2. Well RBR, STR, one and the same thing. I doubt it was their decision to switch, but more Renault – RBR influence. Caterham on the other hand don’t have the resources to get embroiled in engine performance based issues.

          3. may see marussia score their first point!

      2. @full-throttle-f1 – Well they’re going to say that aren’t they. They aren’t going to say “there are loads of problems and we’re not really sure what to do! We’ll try to get it working!” because everyone will (rightly) press the panic button.

        I hope they do get it sorted though. It’d be a real shame to have some teams and drivers really limited because of their engine manufacturer.

    3. Yep this sounds a lot more serious than I thought it would be.

  2. Wow, and I thought it was only Ferrari that got correlation issues…

    1. Chris (@tophercheese21)
      1st February 2014, 4:11

      Apparently Ferrari have sorted their wind tunnel correlation issues out, and now the numbers they get in the wind tunnel match up with what happens in real life (according to James Allison).

      1. They also said that at the beginning of last year.

  3. In resume:
    Almost Everything is wrong.
    Renault didn’t made the correct homework.
    Now, back to the drawing board and hope that Newey’s car can provide that 2 or 3 tenths the engine lacks on power…

    1. Now, back to the drawing board and hope that Newey’s car can provide that 2 or 3 tenths the engine lacks on power…

      He definitely can do that … but the problem is with the current rules the powertrain (engine +ers) they worth more than 2 or 3 tenths, i don’t know exactly how much but with the V8’s the KERS which was used only for 6s was worth an average of 2 or 3 tenths which varies according to the tracks and the cars in question

  4. Liam McShane (@)
    31st January 2014, 20:17

    Quite embarrassing really.

    1. Why so embarrassing?
      Imo – Renault more or less ruled the V8 era. They cant’t be good forever.

      1. @il-ferrarista
        It was red bull who ruled v8 era for the most part. Renault v8 has been the worst engine of them all. Weakest and least reliable.
        RB even wanted to switch to merc power back in 2010 but were blocked by mclaren who influenced merc not to sell them their engines.

        1. Weakest and least reliable.

          Most compact and driveable.

        2. @juzh
          Yes they were crap from the beginning and Red Bull wanted to switch to mercedes that’s true, but as of the middle of 2010 the clever engine mapping appeared on the RB6 thanks to the many permissions that Renault got from the french FIA, in this article Axel Plasse the responsible of the RS27 project explains how they developed the engine in the engine freeze regime

          1. @tifoso1989
            Everyone updated their engines throughout the engine freeze, not just renault. Ferrari was without doubt the most powerful by some margin in 2013. And I’ve read articles how they were allowed on “reliability grounds” to “fix” their pneumatic valves air leak and in the process just happen to gain additional 9 HP.

      2. but to go from dominating to being domineered in a matter of months reeks of a fundamental failure

        1. I think it is early days yet, and they have time…more time than just getting to start reasonably well at the first race. They all will be on steep learning curves for a time. Who’s to say RBR won’t have things sorted and be their usual threat by race 4? Who’s to say those who look strong so far won’t have issues once they race in anger…perhaps even just at certain tracks? Of course Renault are already on their hind feet vs some, but they deserve some time and some patience to ply their trade and tackle the challenge.

  5. Renault = facepalm…..

    sorry forgot it was 2014…..i meant #faceplam

    now #testing is over I am going to get some #dinner and a cup of #tea and go to #bed

    1. ha ha. Best post ever! Thank you for that one.

    2. I enjoyed this #redundanthashtag

      1. I remember when #hashtag was called #pound

  6. “The underlying causes are not straightforward,” White explained. “There isn’t a single component or system that has caused particular trouble.” translates to “We’re in a major state of panic and have no idea where we went wrong”…

  7. Vettel NOT winning the opening race of the season will do wonders for television ratings this year, this is good news for the sport overall if Red Bull have a slow start. Let someone else have a go at winning now.

    1. The worst possible outcome for me would be RedBull being written off in pre-season, then finding pace and reliability during the season and winning another championship as resurgent underdogs. That would be pretty unbearable!

      1. Actually that sounds like an awesome season!

        1. And with the last three races being twice as important, they’ll be shifting their R+D towards the end anyway…

        2. + 1 where do i sign up for that season

          1. Ha, yes, I suppose that does sound dramatic! I guess, rather, I should say the outcome I wouldn’t want would be RedBill winning everything, but acting as if they’re somehow underdogs — similar to how Audi portrays themselves at Le Mans if you watch the Truth in 24 documentaries!

      2. It would be ironic if the very double points rule designed to stop them winning the championship, was the means by which they won it after a troubled season.

        1. It was not designed to stop them from winning, no one has any idea of how the 2014 F1 season will look like even after Jerez test, and the speculation were going in favour of the manufacturers teams Ferrari and Mercedes, that stupid rule was designed to keep the season artificially alive till the end regardless of the winner in order to increase the profit in Bernie’s pocket, Bernie wants seasons like 2010 & 2012 every day he doesn’t care about Red Bull or Ferrari or any other team, all what he cares about is the money and nothing else

      3. “Winning another championship” with the help of double points in the last race!

      4. Indeed, that’s a fantastic season, in fact, it’s the 2012 season.

  8. Now wouldn’t it be excellent if Red Bull dominate the following season, with all the Renault powered teams in hot pursuit?

  9. . . . inaccurate information gleaned from their engine dynamometer . . .

    Ouch. A couple of days ago I asked whether Renault had actually run their powerplant in a chassis and not just on a dyno. Now I think I have the answer: no, they didn’t bother.

    1. Unbelievable, Renault. Even put it in a Clio and do some limited testing. Mmm, Clio V6 Phase 3…

      1. I’d pay a shed load of money for that
        Or even better, put it in their V10 Espace to power the front wheels (V10 for rears, V6 turbo for fronts)

    2. It’s frankly unbelievable isn’t it…. What on earth were they thinking not testing it to make sure it works!?

    3. It’s unfair to ridicule Renault. If they could have tested the engine in a relevant chassis, they would have. They are in worse position than Mercedes and Ferrari because they didn’t have the benefit of a works outfit supplying EVERY information about the ’14-spec car and building the car around the engine from the very begging. They are supplying engine to separate customers, each with different chassis, including one known for implementing risky solutions which often result in bad reliability. Red Bull’s disaster in Jerez is partially their own fault, we have to remember. It was impossible for Renault to predict precisely how the chassis from Red Bull, Caterham and Toro Rosso will impact the engine’s performance and reliability.

      1. Red Bull is their works team.

      2. @cyclops_pl
        But how did mercedes know then how chassis from mclaren, force india and williams will impact their engine’s performance and reliability? Renault simply screwed up. Nothing more to be said.

      3. Well no, I’m not ridiculing Renault. I’m ridiculing their apparent reliance on a single piece of testing equipment. They’ve had a couple of years to put it in a ‘relevant’ chassis. It seems that Ferrari managed to stuff it into a modified road car and I suspect MB did something similar – or maybe they made a ‘mule’ out of elderly race car from another formula. Heck, couldn’t Renault have put it into an old World Series by Renault car?
        I appreciate they are supplying the engine as a component to the eventual car builders, but anyone would expect that component to have been operationally tested before supply to a customer. And I can’t really believe that mighty Renault didn’t do that.
        It would also suggest that they only ran it on ONE dyno. Had they run it on another dyno, the ‘inaccurate information’ might have become apparent from differences in the results.

  10. if the car only drove as good as it looks! I think this red bull looks better then any previous years

    1. With or without the bonus holes?

  11. What is the date for the engine freeze? And to what extent would any remaining problems also be frozen?

    1. @mike-dee – They’ve allowed changes to increase parity previously. It sort of makes a mockery of having multiple engine suppliers to be fair but if the Renault is terrible following the engine freeze, they’ll allow improvements.

    2. 28th February, and they are allowed to make changes for reliability reasons, but the FIA has to approve them and the other engine suppliers will be able to ‘comment’ on the changes before they are allowed. It’s in Appendix 4 of the Sporting Regulations.

    3. Just think about if for a moment. This power units have to last twice as much as V8s. If renault will not be allowed to make their PU reliable, then I don’t see them in F1 for much longer as no one would want an engine which simply doesn’t work. Not to mention all the bad press renault would get because of it. F1 can’t afford to loose another manufacturer currently.

  12. Now we know why Bernie is pushing for the “triple” double points rule!!!! His knows his favourite team and driver may be weak at the beginning and need a good end of season recovery to have a chance!!!!

    (before anyone jumps down my throat…..please read this post with a sense of humour….it is a joke)

  13. So… Mercedes engines for Red Bull next year…?

  14. I have no sympathy for Renault here – only the teams. How can this have happened!? Surely they should have tested this engine to death months before testing started? With the sort of money that is involved in F1, I would have expected them to have tested it in a car – as Ferrari did.

    I am truely amazed that this could have happened. Where does it leave the Renault teams if they can’t get this fixed!? We could have several teams including the defending champions effectively out of the championship! Can they change engines this late?

    1. What car are they supposed to test it in? a Clio?

      1. Formula Reno car……

  15. And THAT is why proper MANUFACTURERS came up with god power units. Now it really IS a manufacturers championship and we are finaly back to the point where engines and drivers mean the most!!! I am absolutely loving how this season is shaping up!!! It´s going to be a Ferrari/Merc engine battle!! LOVE IT!!!

    1. So in your world Renault is not a manufacturer!

      1. @rockie
        Renault, yes. RBR isn´t.

        1. @karter22: So Ferrari and Mercedes lost against a team who isn’t a manufacturer? How embarissing for the engineers that worked there at Ferrari and Mercedes.

    2. @karter22 I agree, Formula One is better off with 2 teams racing each other instead of 11!

      Let’s just ban every team other than Merc or Ferrari!

      Fabulous idea!

    3. C’mon! Renault has a long and successful track record, show some respect.

  16. I hope they can solve their problems because it is no good for the sport to writte off a bunch of teams (if their problems are as big as seem to be). To me this underlines the problem with limited testing. Such radical changes need a lot of testing before hand.
    My simple solution to the problem, inspired by the double points, is to half the points for the first three races as well :P

    1. if you have unlimited testing . Ferrari and Merc would win everything. SO I would say more testing rather than a lot .

      1. @hamilfan Well of course, but I think some things need tests. No one, until today as far as I know, has ever released a product of such complexity out of the box with only some indoor simulation and without testing it in real world where it would operate. Anyway, I wait for the next test to see how much of a problem this seem to be, hope things will sort out by that time.

      2. @hamilfan
        Why would merc and ferrari win everything if unlimited testing? RB has the largest budget of all teams on the grid. I’m just curious what makes you think that.

  17. I wonder if they are trying to be to clever with the turbocharger and it’s so called thermal energy collector, it sounded almost as if they are trying to control the the turbo rpm electronically, could be a great idea IF it works but also a reliability liability of enormous consequence considering how high a turbo revs and how rapidly it has to respond to acellerator input.

    1. I believe there is a system to keep the turbo spinning while off throttle using ERS energy.

      1. @johnnik, that is what I was refering to, sounds, from the comments, as if they are trying to do more than just maintain a constant boost.

        1. What he refers to as a “boost control system”

  18. Enjoy it as long as you can. Mark my words. Red Bull is going to be on the front row in Australia

    1. and then they will retire a la 2012 Valencia

    2. They weren’t in 2012, were they?

  19. How come I just can’t help feeling a bit like Kyle did when he found out Cartman had AIDS….?

  20. Red Bull are where they are because they have worked harder than the other teams. I remember this is how Vettel described their late season domination last year. So have they worked less now?

  21. Maybe we will never know if Newey did the usual great job this year:)

  22. Looks like viry chatillon has a LOT of work to do QUICKLY !

  23. This is about engineering. In engineering, things not working can be as beneficial, even more so, then when everything does work.

    Imagine the Renault working well in Bahrain but the Merc and Ferrari engines having trouble with the heat? Folks will be writing off the season again saying it’s going to be Red Bull domination again.

    I recall in 1994 when the Williams came out of the blocks stumbling, with Senna not finishing the first 3 races (tragically with the 3rd), yet with Hill, they came within 1 point of the Championship.

    With engineering, and F1 in particular, it’s never about the first iteration of something, it’s the development of it. It’s about the quality of the team that is in place, and the processes they have. They aren’t there because of a fluke or because they’re punching above their weight, rather Renault and RBR have shown themselves capable of excellent engineering development. I don’t foresee a Mclaren-esque 2013 on the horizon for them at this point.

  24. Engines have to be finalised and homologated at the end of february right? Going to be a busy month at Renault.

  25. This is a sad situation for Renault. Renault were the first with turbos in F1, and the first with v10 engines, and they have had massive success in those eras. In the past decade, Renault have had a lot of success again, but it is mainly because of the success of the car their engine is installed in, because they have been far from the best in F1 engine performance since the late 90s, they have been underpowered ever since, behind manufacturers like Mercedes, Ferrari, BMW and Toyota at all times. Maybe, this is the year that will break Renault, they have produced an inferior engine for the past decade and a half, but the changes in the formula have not seen them suffer so much for the difference. With this years overhaul, maybe we finally realise that Renault is not what it was 20 years ago at Williams. Renault had the most KERS issues of the manufacturers in the past few years, and it looks to be continueing in 2014 with the ERS battery failures in Renault equipped cars. I feel that Redbull’s expertise at producing a great car will not be enough this year because of RENAULT mechanicals, and it might be a year we see Redbull cars behind Mercedes engined and Ferrari engined cars.

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