Toro Rosso, Melbourne, 2015

Renault drive-ability still worse than last year

2015 Chinese Grand Prix

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Toro Rosso, Melbourne, 2015Renault has said the drive-ability of their 2015 F1 power unit is still inferior to what their teams had at the end of last year, but expect further gains this weekend.

“In Malaysia we got close to what we would consider the normal level of drive-ability we had at the end of 2014,” said director of operations Remi Taffin.

The engine manufacturer will have “some small steps forward” for their power unit for this weekend’s race, he added.

“We have continued the intensive test program started after Australia and we will see further results in Shanghai,” he said.

Renault took a conservative approach at the last race to get their cars to the chequered flag, said Taffin, but they will be more bold with their approach at the Shanghai circuit, which featured the longest straight on the F1 calendar.

“Performance was an improvement in Malaysia,” he said, “although we did keep some in reserve to safeguard reliability”.

“Now we are getting more confident in this area we can afford to be more aggressive and we should see better results on the straights, with a higher top speed”.

Taffin said he expects Red Bull to “be on top of the issues experienced in Malaysia” which left both their cars behind the two Toro Rossos at the chequered flag. “With the improvements to drive-ability and overall performance, we hope we can fight the Williams’ cars and grab some more points in China”.

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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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  • 52 comments on “Renault drive-ability still worse than last year”

    1. Worse than last year? Of course, they can sort some of the issues by altering engine maps, but they won’t erase power deficit to Mercs and Ferraris, maybe in a couple of years.

      1. Well, three weeks ago, everyone was saying that Renault and Ferrari didn’t have a hope of catching up to Mercedes… so at least now it’s Renault can’t catch up to Mercedes and Ferrari (in spite of having more tokens left to spend than anyone else).

        1. knoxploration
          8th April 2015, 19:09

          Ferrari haven’t remotely caught up with Mercedes. They were gifted a win by Mercedes botch job of qualifying and the safety car / race strategy.

          Which isn’t to say that Ferrari didn’t work for or earn it, but let’s not confuse that with an actual battle, or we’re going to be very disappointed in a few races time. Merc still have a yawning chasm of an engine advantage, and the rules have tied every other competitor’s hands behind their backs.

          1. I think it’s fair to say that the weather did more than that safety car…

          2. So how does one explain the speed of the Saubers?

            1. @hohum what’s there really to explain? Sure they’re in fourth in the WCC at this point, but that’s all points from Australia which wasn’t exactly a representative race. Looking at Malaysia, only Manor (duh) and Force India (troubled winter due to being underfunded and thus missing testing) were slower and McLaren was putting up a good fight against them. Both Renault teams beat them.

              I don’t think the outlook on Sauber is fantastic at this point. I think they will soon slip away in the WCC standings.

          3. No, no, no. Ferrari is quick. Period.

    2. I think this is Renault overplaying their disadvantage to glorify their gains. Also doesn’t explain why RBR finished behind STR in Malaysia.

      If engine is the same across both teams, does it mean STR had a better chassis than RBR for Malaysia?

      1. @evered7 a lot of factors can explain why the STRs were on front. The RB could have a tighter package which can be prone to more failures and therefore the engine has to be tuned down even more compared to the TR, that could make the difference all together. I expect that RB will mend its problems and easily beat the sister team. I can also be wrong and that would be quite funny to be honest

        1. Very true. Intercooling (charge air temperature) is critical in turbocharged engines. Red Bulls tight packaging may mean thatbthey were running higher post intercooler temperatures than Torro Rosso. That would mean retarded ignition timing to prevent pre-ignition / detonation and therefore a loss in power. Running an engine rich can also be used effectively as a form of “in cylinder” cooling but once again this is using fuel for cooling rather than making power and therefore compromises performance. I also believe Red Bull made a poor brake pad compound selection for that race in particular which meant they were braking earlier and less aggresively. All in all, for sure, obviously… a crap weekend all round for RBR.

        2. @johnmilk For their Vettel years to be bookended by being beaten by STR in the WCC would indeed be a bit funny, I guess!

          1. @davidnotcoulthard remember that in Vettel first complete season with STR they beat RB.

            1. If nothing else it reminds us that Torro Rosso is actually a legitimate competitor.

          2. @celeste By bookended I meant 2008 and 2015.

      2. The question you have about str being as fast or faster than rbr is easy to answer. All this time RBR has been complaining about engine issues and why they are so slow. The fact is they have a chassis issue too that they haven’t completly disclosed (but are very happy to talk about their engine issues lol).

        1. kenneth chapman
          8th April 2015, 13:55

          any evidence to support your claim?

          1. maybe the fact that they are getting beaten by toro rosso, who have the identical engine as them??

            What more proof do you need?

            1. ricciardo had damaged FW and both cars were struggling with braking. Even then kvyat was catching TR at the end of race despite being spun round and had to overtake both FI again.

            2. @todfod @ijip Caterham beat RBR at testing in 2014!

              Yes, I know we’re into the season already, but the same ‘principles’ (any better terms than that?) may apply here.

              It may be that, as @johnmilk said, RBR have got a tighter package. Last year it resulted in Caterham beating them in testing. This year it may have resulted in STR’s advantage over them thus far (or at least in Malaysia).

              So we need more than STR beating RBR for a race, or 2 races. We’ll probably have enough by Spa and it’ll be indeed a bit fun to see you 2 be correct, but at the moment you’re speculating too much. Way too much.

              Might as well say Rush WILL play Caress of Steel this tour based on the words used to promote the tour!

            3. @davidnotcoulthard

              It’s not impossible that Toro Rosso is quicker than Red Bull… Heck.. they were quicker than Red Bull in 2008. Infact they developed the car at a better rate than Red Bull, and were clearly quicker than Red Bull in the 2nd half of 2008

              The fact that they are doing a better job than them right now also suggests that Red Bull haven’t got a car as good. Maybe RB might develop their car at a better pace throughout the season, but as it stands right now, Toro Rosso have a better car than RB.

              Unless you think Max and Carlos are better drivers than Dan and Dan… which sounds kind of ridiculous

            4. @todfod But your sentence in the other post was in such a way that it suggested that it’s impossible for RBR to be faster than STR, which isn’t exactly the opposite of ridiculous.

            5. @todfod But your sentence in the other post was in such a way that it suggested (especially with the “What more proof do you need?” part) that it’s impossible for RBR to be faster than STR, which isn’t exactly the opposite of ridiculous.

          2. I think Marko came out in Malaysia and said they had some work to do on the chassis, that it wasn’t all the engine.

          3. Yes, here.

            Just as @uan said, Marko admitted to chassis problems with RBR. @todfod @ijip (of course the guy who wants evidence has no account to link to.)

          4. Evidence? I guess this should do kenneth chapman

            “There are some things in the chassis that do not work optimally,” Marko added.


            1. @eclairstone @hobo Are those not a tad too circumstansial?

            2. @davidnotcoulthard – If you mean the reference in the article to the brakes in Malaysia being one of the chassis issues, then I would say that yes, that may be too circumstantial.

              The article also says that Marko said “chassis issues,” i.e. more than one. And it also says that it is clear to Kvyat, moving from STR to RBR, that the issues are deeper/larger than just with the Renault power unit. And even without this admission/statement by Marko, it seems pretty clear that something is wrong with the RBR design beyond the power unit. Either chassis or aero, it’s probably not too far off to think that there may be chassis issues.

        2. dod you really think STR would have gained 1.5 seconds just in aero to RBR in one year? that is unheard of.

          1. Nope. RB could have dropped some time as well. Mclaren dropped a good 2 to 3 seconds.. didn’t they? ;)

      3. @evered7 I think there were 2 things different between RB and STR: the chassis and the brakes! Like @johnmilk said a much tighter package can be a problem, but there is also the fact RB works with a lot of downforce because of Newey’s style and it can affect even more an engine that isn’t good enough in terms of power and speed!
        The other thing is the fact they changed the brakes supplier and we could clearly see in Malaysia it wasn’t the right decision! The drivers had no confidence and missed a lot of breaking points.

        But I think if they develop in the right direction (like they traditionally do) everything will go back to normal: RB > STR.

        1. You could see the masses of black carbon dust coming off the brakes every time they entered a braking event. There was certainly an issue with RBR’s brakes, and having less braking force will probably have cumulative effects to reduce performance (e.g. not harvesting power as efficiently perhaps).

          1. Yeah, you are right! I forgot that not so little detail lol… Certainly they had some problems with the MGU-K because of it!

        2. Engine mapping problems could cause the MGU-K to under-harvest which would lead to more brakeing load and higher fuel consumption which could lead to smile failure. @key75

          1. @hohum Nice explanation! Thanks!!! That’s another good view for the problem in Malaysia. But what we really know for sure is that RB needs to work a lot to solve all these little problems quickly lol

      4. STR finished ahead manly because of RBR’s brake problems paired with Ricciardo’s front wing damage. RBR and STR are closer than usual but it’s RBR that’s late with their 2015 nose.

      5. Thanks to everyone who replied. I am of the opinion that Renault and RedBull haven’t worked closely enough to build a chassis/engine to suit the engine/chassis during the winter period.

        That was one of the main advantages of a ‘works’ team as exhibited by Mercedes and Ferrari.

        Maybe they will come good as the season progresses, maybe they won’t. First target would be to beat STR though. They got the combination of a good car and two good/promising drivers.

    3. Why do people need to start the STR vs RB discussion over and over again? This article is purely about Renault announing improvement, while admitting failure.

    4. Chris (@tophercheese21)
      8th April 2015, 16:31

      “Drive-ability” sure has been the buzz-word so far. Every second word that comes out of Johnny Herbert’s mouth is “drive-ability”.

      1. Been thinking the same. I don’t quite understand it tbh, just feels like marketing talk not wanting to admit their engine is “bad”… I understand a car’s drive-ability as a whole package being a quantitative measure, but how is it possible to determine the difference between an engine’s “drive-ablity” rather than it’s “performance”

        1. @tophercheese21 @skipgamer This video, which was posted in the round-up a while ago, gives a good impression of a particularly extreme example of Red Bull’s drive-ability problems:

          1. Brilliant video Keith. Thanks for sharing.

            Now if someone can share a start of the Malaysian GP for a comparison please!

            1. I think this is the crux of the problem though. It’s not necessarily at the start, it’s intermittent, so the driver can’t get a feel for it.
              Maybe the start in Malaysia went ok but there were some power spikes exiting T4, then on lap 2 T4 was ok but T9 was a nightmare.
              (all just hypothetical examples)

          2. but what makes that an engine with poor “drive-ability” and not just “bad performance”? Any other decade it’d just be call bad, now all of a sudden it’s being called having “bad drive-ability” to make it seem somehow less of a dog.

            1. @skipgamer Very simplistic; a car could have 1000bhp and go 400kph easily but only when you gear up between 8500-8600rpm, otherwise it will bog down. So on paper it might sound great but if you miss the window to shift gears it’s a terrible car to drive.

            2. It has always been the case with Turbo Charged engines I suppose. Even in passenger cars (Diesel TC ones) I have seen people modifying the engine mapping to have more torque at lesser rpm to aid in low speed driving (inside cities etc) than have torque produced at higher rpms.

            3. At its simplest poor driveability is when you get a different result every time you depress the accellerator.

    5. Don’t discount the Toro Rosso’s drivers! They have a lot to do with it.
      These 2 guys are phenomenal.

    6. Was the TR in a highe tune than RBR , anyone?

    7. @xtwl You will find many for Ferrari I am sure. Many saying that F1 is bigger than Ferrari and that they can start their own series etc. You will also find counter points stating how Ferrari IS F1 and it will be a massive loss if they leave etc.

      The argument holds true for any team. If the team takes a decision to quit, then it is in their best interests. They don’t give two hoots about the supporters or fan’s opinions.

    8. Driveability not drive-ability. Petty I know but it is rather annoying.

    9. Renault promoted this formula in order to gain value from the research and developement involved in F1, it appears they certainly needed to gain experience in the area of hybrid power, by the time this PU is competitive they should be ready to take on the hybrid road car market with confidence that they have ironed out all the potential problems.

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