Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Albert Park, 2018

Red Bull pushing Renault to develop qualifying engine mode

2018 F1 season

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Red Bull is pushing Renault to develop the same kind of high-performance qualifying engine mode which rivals Mercedes and Ferrari have access to, according to team principal Christian Horner.

Renault have “bits in the pipeline” for its engine according to Horner but Red Bull isn’t aware of exactly what they’re working on “because obviously they’re not divulging everything that they’re up to.”

Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen, Albert Park, 2018
2018 Australian Grand Prix in pictures
But a qualifying engine mode is “certainly something that we’re pushing for”, he added.

How significant a role Mercedes’ qualifying mode was in Lewis Hamilton’s six-tenths of a second margin over the field in qualifying on Saturday was a major talking point.

Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff said Hamilton used its ‘party mode’ during both his runs in Q3, indicating it did not account for his improvement between his two runs. However Horner remains convinced Mercedes’ engine mode accounts for most of their qualifying advantage.

“Lewis’s time came predominantly, as he did last year, between Q2 and Q3,” he said. “They have a quali mode that they don’t need to use in the earlier part of qualifying because why stress the engine that needs to do [seven] races.

“I think his first lap in Q3 was conservative because there was a bit of hydraulic fluid from his team mate at turn one. I think Q2 he was on the back foot, had to go for it, that was everything they have, which was mighty impressive.”

But Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel believes Mercedes’ qualifying mode doesn’t give them as great and advantage as it did last year.

“We do get a bit of data, GPS data and stuff like that. I think they did turn it up for Q3 but not by seven-tenths.

“I think probably if you look at qualifying carefully, I try to do so last night, it’s fair to say they were quick in Q1, quicker than us, Lewis was quick in Q2 and then his second run, I don’t know, something happened. So, his last run in Q3 was the only proper run at the end and he had a clean run and I don’t think the gain that he had in time was down to engine. Probably a tenth, a little bit more, but not seven tenths.”

Qualifying engine mode ban proposed

Horner also suggested the FIA could step in to prevent teams switching engine modes between qualifying and the race.

“One could say perhaps you should have the same engine mode,” he said. “Like you have to have parc ferme, when the cars leave for qualifying, maybe the engine mode should be the same from the moment you leave the garage to the end of the grand prix.”

FIA race director Charlie Whiting said they have “not come under any pressure” to look into introducing such a rule “and until such time as that happens then we won’t.”

“There’s all sorts of modes in these engines,” he added. “We know full well that they change at various times during the race.”

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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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  • 40 comments on “Red Bull pushing Renault to develop qualifying engine mode”

    1. Maybe he should start by getting his two pilots to stop making silly mistakes. Verstappen and Ricciardo have not been inpressive at all this weekend, and there is much more to get from them amd their talent than a few tenth in quali.

      1. How often does Ricciardo make a mistake? Let me answer that for you …not often. I’m not the biggest fan of Verstappen he pushes hard all of the time, but his spin was an anomaly, it’s not the type of thing he is known for in a race.

        1. Red flag thing was unfortunate but nevertheless a mistake of his own that impacted his race badly.

        2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          27th March 2018, 13:16

          Was anyone else surprised by how unsettled the Red Bull looked compared to the Haas in the corners? I saw that spin coming a few laps before it happened. Red Bulls are usually the most poised cars on the track and Verstappen’s rear was literally sliding in a corner while Magnussen’s was planted.

          1. the car was damaged @freelittlebirds

          2. Nope, he was running a lot closer to the back of the Haas than pretty much any other driver managed behind any other car all race, he was just cooking the tyres in the turbulent air and eventually they cried enough. There was also a little floor damage to make matters worse.

            When the car was in clean air, it looked just as poised as the Merc and Ferrari. As a comparison, Hamilton got scruffy behind the Ferrari and Vettel was pretty much nowhere in the turbulence of Raikkonens car. In fact the only car that looked poised relatively close to any other car was Kimi’s….

        3. @johnrkh +1. Ricciardo hardly makes any mistakes at all. Verstappen is more aggressive and more mistake prone, but I don’t think he makes more mistakes than Vettel or Hamilton.

      2. Antoon van Gemert
        27th March 2018, 13:06

        @Pyon. The spin of Max Verstappen was caused by damage on his car. This happened in lap 5 at turn 4, but was not caused by going too hard over the curbstones. Something just broke of the car, as also happened during wintertesting in Barcelona. After that the RB14 was difficult to drive, especially going into the corners, for the rest of the race. So it was not his mistake. His start was good but was blocked by Vettel and caught by surprise by Magnussen. Can happen. Alonso was Lucky during the VSC-period as Vettel was. The only mistake of Max was during Q3 in turn 13 and cost him a front row position next to Lewis. Afterwards you could argue that this mistake had big consequences for the race. But come on, wouldn’t it be frightning if a driver made no mistakes? Even Hamilton had his moment.

        The penalty for Daniel Ricciardo, although right by the letter, was so unnecessary, because there was no real danger at the track and he slowed down. Ricciardo had the better race of the two (Max was better in qualifying), drove the fastest lap (Max had the fastest pitstop) and proved that the RB14 is a really good car right from the start that will challenge Ferrari and Mercedes in the coming races!

    2. FIA race director Charlie Whiting said they have “not come under any pressure” to look into introducing such a rule “and until such time as that happens then we won’t.”

      So is he implying that someone just needs to put pressure on the FIA to change any technical rule and they will happily consider it?

      I think this is about F1’s philosophy – you should ban something if it goes against it, not just because one team has mastered the technology better than the others. You can ban e.g. traction control if you believe that it makes F1 too robotic and also close unintended loopholes in regulations that lead to anomalies (double diffusers, F-Duct systems etc.). Cost control is a good reason for banning something – arms races should be avoided. But is Mercedes’s ‘party mode’ really one of those cases? Or is this just a case of ‘Come on guys, we cannot run as fast as you so please run a little slower’?

      1. @girts +1.

        If Horner is successful in lobbying Whiting to restrict engine modes to suit the whims of RBR…I’m out.

    3. F1 is all about technology innovation an arms race as Girts put it. Without it the sport will stagnate.
      I have heard the arguments about costs and the small players. The fact is and always has been, the major car manufacturers have always dominated F1 and driven it forward. They have also caused the smaller teams to become even more imaginative and this has only improved the sport.
      It’s going through a hard time at the moment due the lack of passing. Some rules do need to be changed, but putting limits on the tech will not help in my opinion.

    4. @girts – I don’t think Charlie was implying that they would consider a technical rule change but being a little more polite in saying Horner needs to pipe down a bit. Horner can see that Red Bull seem to have pretty good race pace but with so little overtaking in F1 at the moment its doesn’t so much as quali pace seems more important keeping track position.

      To argue a engine mode should become part of the parc ferme rules I think is a little thin, even as a Daniel fan- its always been the F1 way to crank it up in quali and that what makes Saturday arvo so great.

      That said what can teams actually change quali to the race from a software prospective ??

    5. From a technical standpoint, I don’t think Renault will succeed to implement an engine mode as efficient or even closer to the ones developed by Mercedes/Ferrari. Mercedes did have it since the hybrid era began, Ferrari introduced their special engine mode in Canada 2016 using the TJI technology provided by their technical partner MAHLE. That’s a huge advantage that cannot be overcome unless Renault are willing to invest heavily in the technology something that, as far as I understand, they are not very enthusiastic about.

      So the easiest way to catch Ferrari and Mercedes in that field is to get the special engines mode banned by the FIA which explains the direction Horner is pushing for. The thing is Mercedes and Ferrari which are harmonious when it comes to engine regulations and it’s a no brainer that such suggestion will be opposed and even vetoed.

      It has to be mentioned that RBR triggered the trick of manipulating engine modes in qualy back in the early 2010 and that was for extracting the maximum amount of gases to feed into the diffuser. Renault kept upgrading their V8 engine under special permissions from the FIA for reliability purposes and RBR was getting stronger and stronger, they have gone too far with engine mappings in Valencia 2012…

      1. So what is it exactly that is coming around? All engine manufacturers back then tried to take full benefit of the exhaust blowing into the diffuser. Only red bull was able to build a chassis to fully take benefit of it. But everybody was “manipulating the trick of engine modes” back then…

        Also everybody used the reliability clauses to upgrade their engine performance back then. But only renault was left behind so in 2010 (if I recall correctly) renault was given special permission by fia to improve their engine that lacked power.

        Valencia 2012 red bull had alternator failures. What does it have to do with engine modes?

        Whatever red bull does it is always wrong, that’s it?

    6. Seems logical to me, they want something, if they can’t have it, they want to prohibit the others from using it

      @keithcollantine @dieterrencken since we are on the subject of engines, any of you have any insight on the Ferrari engine, particularly why does it have some sort of mist coming out of the back (around the red light/rear jack mount), I saw it in one of the Ferraris and on both Haas. Will try to find a video and share it

      1. it can be seen here it does appear to be smoke, but I haven’t seen it in any engine, only the Ferrari

        Minute 3.30 also, on Seb’s car

        I just noticed on this engines for some reason, the first couple of times that I saw this, I actually thought the engines were about to pop, clearly they worked fine.

      2. @johnmilk
        In the below Sky Sports article there is a logical explanation of the phenomenon that is the new regs about fluid that must be extracted and not routed back to the engine in order not to be used in the combustion process.

        1. thank you very much @tifoso1989

    7. My thoughts exactly. If you have to start the race on your fast time Q2 tires then you should run the race in your Q3 engine mode.

    8. The gap between Hamilton and Verstappen in Q1 was 0.659 seconds, whereas in Q3 it was 0.715. Plus we know that Hamilton pretty much nailed his final run but Verstappen didn’t, meaning the gap could have actually been smaller in Q3 than Q1.

      So what exactly is the evidence that Mercedes are doing something with engine modes between Q1 and Q3 that Redbull-Renault-TagHeuer are not?

    9. Why does Christian have to lie so much? Renault DO have a qualifying mode. All the engines do. It is simply that the Mercedes mode gives them a higher boost – due to better engineering.

      And how on earth is it possible to ban a “qualifying mode”, when it is an integral part of the engine???

      We are back to the days of red Bull lobbying the FIA through propaganda and incessant moaning. Anyone remember the FIA allowing Renault to improve their engine dues to “reliability issues”, and also Pirelli changing the tyres to suit Red Bull?

      1. It’s just a backhanded approach to get engine parity. That’s all it is. He better hope the Honda engine has a “super ninja mode”.

      2. Mercedes’ advantage is in the oil burn which allows those higher boost levels.

        Engine parity would be great for racing. We could have 6 teams competing for podiums instead of 2.

        1. Mercedes said they weren’t burning oil. Besides, now the vapours from the engine sump have their own exhaust pipe, and you could see traces of vapour or smoke coming from it at times during the race.

          1. Mercedes said


    10. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      27th March 2018, 13:13

      The problem is that it’s too late to do that because they only have 3 engines and if adding a quali mode ends up killing 3 engines, you’ll lose more positions from penalties than you might gain. It also only really benefits Red Bull who can qualify higher and keep that spot.

      The other teams would eventually lose the positions during the course of the race so the added benefit ain’t worth the risk.

      The name of the game for 2018 is reliability – it’s foolish to request a change that can affect reliability and bring them back to 2017 levels of reliability for Renault.

    11. SparkyAMG (@)
      27th March 2018, 13:51

      I’m getting a bit tired of hearing fans and professionals alike moan about Merc’s so called party mode whilst completely neglecting the fact that they look to have produced an incredible chassis this season.

      Vettel himself has confirmed that most of Hamilton’s time was found in the corners and that the engine mode wasn’t as significant as is being reported and may even be less potent than last season.

      Watching the on-board footage of Hamilton’s pole lap confirms just how much confidence he had in the car when attacking corners and he was able to get on the power incredibly early. The hard work surrounding suspension kinematics and tyre behaviour that has been done back at the factory looks to have paid off, and I’d go as far as saying that the W09 will be Mercedes’ most dominant car in the hybrid era.

      1. @sparkyamg

        Vettel himself has confirmed that most of Hamilton’s time was found in the corners

        That’s because Mercedes can run a higher downforce set up than any other team and would still get away with it since its superior power will neutralize the drag penalty.

        1. SparkyAMG (@)
          27th March 2018, 16:35

          @tifoso1989 yes that seems to be the popular opinion of a lot of people at the moment. Let’s revisit this after a wet session or after some of the races where power unit supremacy is neutralised, but I’d bet money that the W09 won’t struggle at Monaco, Hungary or Singapore this year.

        2. Or perhaps the car just has excellent usable downforce and slightly over 1000 bhp.

          It is quite obvious when they start to struggle while following another car. All that nice downforce gets disturbed. If they had an unefficient aero package and much more power they would struggle less.

      2. Yes, I agree, this is a great car. People overlook how good it is because Vettel won the race via a fluke of the rule book, not by superior car performance. As I think about this an F1 engine has a fuel flow limit, so when you are at full throttle then the engine is using the maximum fuel flow allowed (and yes, the Stewards do check). So Mercedes don’t get their advantage that way because the fuel flow limit is the same for all the engines. So where do you go to get more power? Better thermal efficiency is probably the key to this, if so Mercedes got more thermal efficiency = more power for the same amount of fuel by increasing the compression ratio. I don’t see why this couldn’t be manipulated via the MGU-H software, but that should be obvious to the guys at Red Bull and Renault. So maybe Renault don’t want this feature themselves, and if they don’t want it then their customers can’t have it either.

    12. Horner also suggested the FIA could step in to prevent teams switching engine modes between qualifying and the race.

      I have no idea what I’ve just read. This is crazy.
      Let’s forbid Mercedes to have more horsepower than Renault. Let’s forbid Mercedes to use softer compounds. Let’s forbid Hamilton, because he is driving too fast.

      1. That’s Horner for you. I’m amazed people keep taking him seriously.
        If he were Italian, he’d be the laughing stock of the paddock.

    13. I don’t know why Horner is bothering to badger Renault when I seriously doubt they’ll be using a Renault engine next year anyway.

      1. That’s because they could have a shot at the championship this year if they got a quali mode soon. If they switch to Honda power next year, it’s game over in the championship battle anyways.

    14. My question at the moment is : how can we explain FI and Williams’ quali and race if everything is in the engine? Don’t they technically have the same?

      1. It is a totally different league. That Mercedes is fast everywhere, displays no apparent weakness.

        Williams has unexperienced pay drivers, with an underconstruction car and SFI is in the middle of turmoil.

        Also others have somewhat similar engine performance.

    15. With two of the most partying drivers it is only fair they provide them with a “party” mode.

    16. Someone tell Horner that Red Bull is just a Renault customer team. Even if Renault had a powerful Q3 engine mode they sure as hell would use it best for their own team and not simply hand it over to the disgruntled customer who’s been moaning about them for half a decade now.

    17. Oh dear, here we go with the Horner bashing again.

      OK, simple facts.
      Yes they’d like to have a qualy mode for their PU because let’s be real here, if you cans start from row 1 your chances of a win decrease dramatically in most races.
      No, they won’t get it anytime soon from Renault (by Renault’s own admission). Even if Renault could be bothered, I seriously doubt they’d let RBR use it.

      Bottom line is that RBR are unlikely to win either a Constructors or a WDC, or even get close as a customer of Renault who even in the V8 era fell behind in the “power” area. Horner bashing, whilst fun for some, doesn’t hide the fact that Renault PU’s in this format are uncompetitive in qualifying at most tracks.

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