Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Monaco, 2018

Renault frustrated by wait for Red Bull engine decision

RaceFans Round-up

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In the round-up: Renault’s Cyril Abiteboul says the engine supplier is struggling to understand why Red Bull are taking so much time mulling their options for next year.

What they say

After Lewis Hamilton was critical of the on-track action during yesterday’s Monaco Grand Prix, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff likened the race to a dreary, goalless game of football.

He wears his heart on his sleeve, he says what he thinks. This is Monaco. It’s rare that there is no Safety Car or no major incident and it’s happened this year. There’s good football games and there’s bad football games. This was one of the more rather calm ones.

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Comment of the day

After more teething troubles experienced by some F1TV users attempting to watch yesterday’s race, @lancer033 is disappointed by the service that has been offered thus far.

As someone that’s been wanting F1 to come out with a streaming service for years now, i’ve got to say i’m a bit disappointed. It’s the right idea, just not ready for prime time yet. Where are all the extra camera angles and such? What about the F2 races? What about all the archive footage they have? I didn’t find anything that wasn’t on either their youtube channel or website for free. An unreliable stream that doesn’t give me any options beyond what ESPN is showing isn’t worth keeping. I feel bad for canceling it because i do think they’ve got the right idea, i just want more from it than they’re giving now.

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On this day in F1

  • On this day in 1998 Ayrton Senna took pole position for the Mexican Grand Prix in his McLaren-Honda MP4/4

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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61 comments on “Renault frustrated by wait for Red Bull engine decision”

  1. Renault: ‘We’ve told them the engine will be fantastic in Canada! We’ve never over-promised and under-delivered in the past, so we just can’t understand why they won’t tie the fortunes of such a huge enterprise to us until they’ve actually been able to test the product! It’s all very unfair.’

    1. Renault:
      “It is wrong that they are delaying their decision as long as their contract allows. They should make the decision when we want it. Not as late as our contract allows.”

      1. Sush meerkat
        28th May 2018, 1:34

        Ohh @bookgrub and @socksolid, fun comments, may I join in?

        Squirrel Irritable of Renault;
        “Why does a paying customer think they have the right to choose in what package and deal they want with their money?! It’s completely unfair”

      2. “It is wrong that they are delaying their decision as long as their contract allows.

        @socksolid – do you know by when RBR are contractually obligated to inform Renault? I was only aware of the FIA deadline of mid-May IIRC, is there another hard date that is also at play here?

        1. @phylyp I am pretty sure RedBull wants to wait and see the upgrade that Honda will bring in Canada and that’s the main reason of the delay… If it really bothers Renault that much, they could still drop RedBull. If they keep waiting, it means that they want RedBull to use their engine somehow.

          Recap, RedBull is waiting for more insight before taking the decision (especially regarding Honda’s PU) but Renault should be able to extract the full price out of RedBull in case they decide to stick with them, probably why they keep waiting.

          1. @jeanrien – nice point about full price, that probably best explains why Renault are still waiting for RBR’s confirmation. I think a secondary/side benefit is that they can also retain Sainz by extending the RBR alliance, since apart from rumours, there doesn’t seem to be clear indication that other drivers (e.g. Alonso) are pursuing a Renault seat.

        2. The rules do say in May, but the facts will never stop a few fanboys making up their own stories which suit their narrative.
          If Red Bull do decide to go with Renault engines, I hope Horner understands when he gets his engine two weeks later than he’s expecting to put it in his 2019 car. Hopefully for him that’s in time for the pre-season test sessions … at least that’s how I’d handle it from Renault’s perspective.

    2. Exactly, but on the less humorous side, once the design is finalised the size of the production line is pretty irrelevant .

      1. @hohum – does that really hold true for these small volumes, though? I’d wager that a PU manufacturer supplying a works team and two customers (6 cars in all) will probably produce less than 100 engines in a season, including dyno engines, testing engines, race engines, spares.

        So, a customer leaving can easily reduce that number by 25%, which can have implications on supply chain, and manufacturing lead times, not to mention employees. I also hear that the curing & treatment times for some components (like crankshafts, valves, IIRC) is quite lengthy.

        For sure, some of this is just posturing to force Red Bull into a commitment, but I believe there’s a grain of truth to some of his reasons.

        1. @phylyp, you’re quite right, RBR going to Honda would make the cost per engine greater for Renault but they have to go ahead with development etc. for 2 teams regardless of RBR so they should be doing everything they can to keep RBR onboard. As far as performance superiority goes with Renault engines it’s been nothing but promises since the previous turbo era.

        2. I’m sure there’s genuine and worthwhile and totally understandable motivations behind desiring a commitment earlier, but:

          They want to wait until Canada, but on Monday after the race in Montreal there will be no revelations.

          That is not at all certain. If I was involved at a high level in RBR, I’d be encouraged by signs of progress this year, heartened by the apparent driveability of the engine, and eagerly awaiting a full-blown, competitive, high-engine-stress race to see if the data actually holds up under race condition. There’s just no way “but we promise, for real this time” is something on which to base the operation of a company spending 9 figures a year.
          If Renault wanted RBR to take them on faith, they needed to deliver on more of their historical claims.

          1. eagerly awaiting a full-blown, competitive, high-engine-stress race to see if the data actually holds up under race condition

            @bookgrub – it’s not just a performant engine, is it? :-) RBR need that performant Renault engine to actually hold together for a series of races. So even if Renault deliver the high-performance engine in Canada, it’ll take RBR about 3-4 races to be confident it is reliable, and able to still deliver the required power.

            I’ve not heard either party mention anything about when the RBR/Renault contract states RBR have to inform Renault of a 2019 deal. If RBR have the time, there’s no reason to commit early – as you very rightly say.

          2. ColdFly (@)
            28th May 2018, 8:21

            And even though RBR won Monaco it was despite a Renault PU component failure.
            That will give RBR enough reason to wait with their decision until the last (contractual) possible time.

          3. @phylyp
            ‘Renault team principal Cyril Abiteboul has said a decision on whether they will continue with Red Bull needs to be taken by May. But Horner told RaceFans: “that’s different to the conversation we’ve had with Renault.”

            “Obviously they’re keen to know sooner rather than later. The reality is we have until the summer break to make a decision.’


          4. Many thanks @reh1v2-0 , that’s interesting to know!

    3. No kidding Cyril

  2. it is the duty of the competitor to satisfy the FIA … they were having difficulty satisfying us. Here, we are now satisfied.

    The joke writes itself…

    1. It makes sense @biggsy – he’s saying they weren’t satisfied after Baku or Spain but are now. I guess my take away questions from that is why weren’t they happy with Ferraris explanation in Baku and Spain and what was the issue to begin with ? We’ve seen cars disqualified for breaking fuel flow limits so why is this just being swept away ? Is it just a non issue / misunderstanding ?

      1. @tom, I think you may be too pure of heart to have grasped the implicit joke. My congratulations.

    2. The glitz of Monaco does have that effect, especially after the forbidding visage of Baku. @Biggsy @bookgrub

    3. @biggsy in fairness at Charlie’s age, it probably does take a little longer now for him to be “satisfied”

  3. Albeit a very long shot, it would be funny if Red Bull switch to Honda for next year and end up winning the driver’s title this year. haha

    1. Will it also be driven by Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny?

  4. The whole FIA – Ferrari investigation doesn’t fill me with confidence. It just sounds like they don’t actually understand what Ferrari are doing so have just sad it’s ok.

    1. It’s kind on fishy that Ferrari have adopted such a complex solution for something that other teams have implemented in a really simple manner. I mean, if there’s no performance gain from their solution, why implement such an unnecessarily complex way of doing it?

      1. ColdFly (@)
        28th May 2018, 8:29

        Maybe it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, but it ‘satisfied’ FIA when it asked for a massage.

        PS standard FIA procedure since the Mosley days ;)

  5. I don’t think Hamilton is wrong with what he said. Monaco’s races can be processional, and boring for the spectators, but the drivers still drive at the the fastest speed possible considering the circumstances. But this time they were cruising. Alonso also said it was the most boring race ever.

    It wasn’t that they couldn’t overtake, they know that already, the problem was that they couldn’t drive fast. That’s what they say anyway. I thought Abu Dhabi last year was even worse to be honest.

    As for the COTD, I contacted the F1 TV folk during the race, and they replied me:

    First of all,I want to thank you for being such an avid F1 fan !
    Secondly,to respond to your query , we are working our best to minimize the issues you’ve suffered today. Allow me to collect your feedback to be further analyzed by our specialists and to be fixed .
    We will try our hardest to not disappoint you again !

    Kind regards,
    From the Pit

    I’m asking for a refund anyway. I subscribed for a month and both races during this month were unwatchable for me…

    1. Barcelona was a borefest too, Lewis….

    2. As for not being able to drive fast, I don’t understand how they all ended up on the wrong tyre as they did. Bottas was 2 seconds a lap quicker that those leading 4 when he came out on Supersofts. Surely that was a huge fail on behalf of the teams not to even test or realise that the tyre had potential for race pace.

      The inability to follow really is the issue. If they could have fought for track position it would have opened up far more strategies for better racing. But nobody could dare switch to a 2 stopper because they knew they wouldn’t be able to get close enough to pass anywhere even if they were 2, 3, 4 seconds a lap quicker…

      That Monaco is such a high-downforce track really highlighted the issues with the aero being disrupted by the wake of the car ahead… It also highlighted how valuable DRS has been this year as there simply is no value gained from it around Monaco. Baku certainly would have been as boring without it on its start-finish straight where most of the passes happened (by memory)

      1. @skipgamer ”That Monaco is such a high-downforce track really highlighted the issues with the aero being disrupted by the wake of the car ahead…”
        – TBH, F1’s long-standing following problem caused by the aerodynamics of the car has next to nothing to do with the extreme difficulty of overtaking in Monaco. It’s purely about the lack of space and proper passing spots, nothing else. Passing will never become easier in Monaco regardless of what you do to the cars, or the tyres, etc. It’s always been equally hard to overtake around Monaco ever since day 1, never any easier nor harder in some years than in some others.

        1. I disagree. We’ve seen some great passing around monaco, in the section after the straight up to casino, coming out of the tunnel. Perez made a name for himself there one year (can’t remember which) as did Verstappen… Yes it’s hard and tight when it happens, and leads to those safety cars that were missing quite often. But it can happen, this year no matter what, you had cars 3-4 seconds faster that couldn’t pass…

          1. @skipgamer, the thing is, in the past Verstappen ultimately pushed too hard and ended up smashing into other drivers (e.g. the clash with Grosjean); there was also the case of Sitl, in 2014, who managed a few passes but ultimately crashed out of that race as well when he tried one too many moves.

            As for having cars that were 3-4 seconds faster, well, we did also see the Coulthard-Bernoldi fight where Coulthard couldn’t pass Bernoldi despite having an advantage of 3-4 seconds a lap. Similarly, there was the famous Mansell-Senna battle where Senna found it easy to fend off Mansell, despite Mansell having a similar performance advantage, whilst even figures like, say, Alonso or Schumacher who had to come from further back on the grid into the points mainly relied on strategy rather than making passes on track.

            As for Perez, I’m not sure which year you’re thinking of – the only one that I can think of might be 2016, where he picked up a podium, but most of the places he gained were through pit stop strategy rather than on the track.

  6. *On this day in 1988…

    Much as I would have loved Senna to be around in 1998, wow, everything would have been different!
    If only.

  7. Red Bull frustrated by wait for reliable competitive power unit :)

  8. The linked article about Renault/RBR has interesting and pretty strong quotes about Renault’s long-term intentions. Quoting:

    “They are pleasing Honda and making Renault wait but we cannot wait indefinitely,” the Frenchman added.
    In fact, Abiteboul said Renault is heading in its own direction anyway, and looking to promote only the interests of its own team rather than helping a rival to succeed.
    “Everything else is an addition to our project,” he insisted.
    “I would prefer to spend these three years while our team progresses with Red Bull Racing than without them, but one day we will have to break this connection,” said Abiteboul.
    “It will be this year, next year or later, and while Red Bull can continue to help us, there will come a time when we need to be perceived separately,” he added.
    You could not imagine Mercedes or Ferrari supplying engines to Red Bull, so it’s necessary to get used to the idea that Renault will not either. We will say goodbye to these times when we are a supplier of engines,” Abiteboul added.

    1. It does raise the worrying spectre for the FIA that if all the engine manufacturers have their own team, that an independent team might be denied engine supply if they are too competitive. I’m sure that sort of language isn’t encouraging for McLaren either.

      1. @bookgrub – I think that bit of writing has been on the wall ever since Red Bull wanted to split with Renault two seasons ago, and Mercedes and Ferrari refused to give them an engine. Even then, with Renault rebuilding their squad, it was known that a similar situation was inevitable, which is why the FIA has said they can step in to force an engine supply to a constructor.

        Longer term though, it would appear that the solution lies in the recent discussions around 2021’s engine regs to try and bring in others into F1. Behemoths like VAG/Toyota – if they choose to join – will no doubt field their own squads, but there is probably a desire that someone like Cosworth or Ilmor will also show interest. And if the Honda dalliance doesn’t go too well, then one of these companies would enjoy a windfall of R&D funding by allying themselves with RBR. As engineering-oriented companies, they will probably not be the kind to actually field a squad, so will be happy playing the PU supplier role.

    2. I often feel French English speakers are being rather aggressive with their chosen words, I just think it’s part of the nature of how they speak. I don’t think French-English transcribes very well, they tend to have a different pacing and pitch to certain words which makes it come off less threatening verbally.

      Furthermore, that the quotes cut off before commas implies to me that there’s some sort of justification or context for his comments. It leaves me very skeptical that these are reliable quotes or taken in the spirit of what he was trying to say. I would be interested to read the full source from GMM.

      It wouldn’t surprise me if there were equal amounts praise or appreciation for what Red Bull give them as a customer.

      1. @skipgamer

        I often feel French English speakers are being rather aggressive with their chosen words, I just think it’s part of the nature of how they speak. I don’t think French-English transcribes very well, they tend to have a different pacing and pitch to certain words which makes it come off less threatening verbally.

        Yes, absolutely. I sort of qualify as a native speaker of French, and I know the opposite perspective from experience as well. I’m still sometimes frustrated by the degree of indirectness and beating around the bush that seems to be ingrained in native English speech.
        In fact, you are expected to tell it as it is in a business context, leaving as little as possible of the core message up to the listener’s interpretation. That’s neither impolite nor threatening, it’s just the generally accepted behaviour. The same goes for openly contradicting colleagues, or even business partners or superiors.
        My intuition is that it would be difficult to formulate a rationale that perfectly describes these differences, because native speakers of French and English would likely agree more or less agree to the same wording, while intuitively drawing the line between acceptable and offensive behaviour quite differently. For instance, the British in particular have a way of switching from what we’d perceive as stiff, sophisticated language to wildly inappropriate comments without batting an eye. The fact that these differences are deeply ingrained in the respective cultures, but not so much in the language itself, can lead to all sorts of misunderstandings.
        (Not to mention the infamous false friends that lead to the most hilariously inappropriate statements, e.g. president Macron inadvertently calling the Aussie PM’s wife ‘delicious’ …

        Furthermore, that the quotes cut off before commas implies to me that there’s some sort of justification or context for his comments. It leaves me very skeptical that these are reliable quotes or taken in the spirit of what he was trying to say. I would be interested to read the full source from GMM.

        In that case, I think you’re wrong. The commas simply serve to embed direct speech, i.e. quotes, into a running text.

  9. Regarding the Once again, Chase Carey has stated a couple of times that increasing the number of races isn’t their priority and that they don’t have a ‘target number of races,’ so it’s far from guaranteed that something like that would happen, so too early to jump to definite conclusions.

  10. OK so Cyril is saying that RBR won’t know anything more by the Monday after the Canadian Grand Prix.

    Is that confirmation that there will NOT be an upgrade for RBR’s PU in Canada?

    If that’s the case look out for the fireworks. Can’t wait.

    1. He did already say that there would be no upgrade for Canada a couple of weeks ago. Something about the reliability of the new lighter MGU-K unit (where the performance will come from just from the weight savings) not being good enough.

      1. I thought he said it was “in doubt” which I guess means that no they’re not bringing it.

        Hell of a decision they have to make – do they really believe Renault can deliver a really competitive PU, and if they can will it actually stay in 1 piece with no chance to actually test it because as usual Renault haven’t delivered.

        1. IMO (as a fan) they should stick with Renault. I’d love to see them with Honda, but it’s highly doubtful that Honda will beat them on performance next year at least. At least Renault is a known quantity, With aero changes coming it’s best to change just one thing at a time than risk a huge performance drop on both fronts.

        2. DocNuke (@)
          28th May 2018, 7:40

          I feel that in the short term until the new engine regs come on line this love affair of going to be a back and forth issue between Red Bull and Renault might continue. I know that there is some pretty bad blood over the years between the two but the telling sign for the Monday after Canada is how they place and how Torro Roso do on the Honda power plant given that Canada is a power circuit.

          Ricciardo just confirmed for Red Bull that they have the chassis given how they pulled off some of the lap times they did the entire weekend especially during the race with a failed MGU. If they can’t do well in Canada and it links back to the power unit I can see a possibility of them going to Honda but that is a huge 2 year risk that they run.

          1. If they can’t do well in Canada and it links back to the power unit I can see a possibility of them going to Honda

            I just don’t see Toro Rosso excelling in Canada because of their power unit. I think the safer bet for Red Bull would be to stick with Renault. It’s doubtful that Red Bull would even win the odd race with Honda in the back.. so I feel the risk to return isn’t great for the switch to Honda.

          2. ColdFly (@)
            28th May 2018, 8:41

            I think RBR has already decided to stick with Renault for performance and reliability reasons.
            They just wait for Honda to confirm that they are not ready yet for an A team. They do not want to offend Honda during their pre-engagement period. @todfod

        3. @dbradock, there is a partial upgrade coming in Canada for all Renault powered teams – the update to the MGU-K is being postponed, but it seems that there are updates to the rest of the power unit that are still being brought to Canada as planned.

    2. petebaldwin (@)
      28th May 2018, 13:02

      I don’t think they’re waiting for Renault. I think they’re waiting for Honda but if they have to sign up to Renault for another year, they will.

  11. The stewards only cleared Ferrari after they made the recommended software changes. So they were indeed cheating. Sassi was their previous head of powertrain, so it’s very unlikely that the information he provided was wrong.

    But like Brundle & the AMuS article on Saturday mentioned, some form of deal was done and that was why they [Ferrari] weren’t punished.

    It was also strange how he was so willing to tell everyone who came to them with their suspicions.

    1. And you base all this info from where?

      1. On gossip and his expertise from his couch, obviously.

      2. @bluechris, when meeting with the press after the practise sessions on Thursday, Charlie Whiting did discuss the additional monitoring that the FIA was carrying on on Ferrari’s power unit.

        During that presentation, he referred in passing to “software changes that had been implemented” by Ferrari (see here after the FIA started investigating Ferrari. Now, we don’t know exactly what was being changed or why it was being changed, so it cannot be said for certain that they were cheating, but Whiting’s comments indicate that Ferrari have made changes to the software of their power unit during the course of the FIA’s investigation into them.

        KGN11 does also have a point that it is rather unusual for the FIA to single out individuals raising a concern to them about the legality of a rival in the way that they did with Allison and Sassi. After all, Whiting did say that it was fairly routine for engineers to come to the FIA with questions about their former teams when they moved to a new team, but in the past I’ve not seem him explicitly name those engineers in public in the way that he did with Allison and Sassi.

      3. Obviously from the fact that his worshipped one is not a Ferrari driver

  12. I don’t understand RBR either, they have an engine that hasn’t really progressed much from the first year of the hybrid turbos, somehow managed to have Honda type of reliability this year, what are they waiting for? Make the switch already

  13. @johnmilk true lies or pure lack of knowledge?

    1. both

      1. Haha fair enough

  14. Anyone else here notice how Stroll showed he’s completely out of his depth this weekend?

    Thoroughly schooled by his not-immensely talented, pay-driver, rookie teammate … frantic and confused radio messages where his voice pitch sounded like he was mid-tantrum … and his inability to even assess the mid race issue as a simple puncture, instead screaming “somethings wrong with the car, somethings wrong with the car” was really pathetic.

    Time for daddy to buy him a hobby somewhere else.

    1. Have to say those radio exchanges regarding the puncture were absolutely embarrassing.

      1. Agreed that it did appear that way … it would be interesting to see exactly where the car was, and what state it was in when Stroll made that radio transmission … the pictures shown on TV when the radio message was replayed were at some time well after he said those words (ie. what was the delay – 30 seconds or 60 seconds? I dont know), as Stroll would have certainly known that he had a puncture by then…

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