Off the back of what was a abysmal display at the Australian Grand Prix weekend, both Red Bull and Renault have adopted a punch and counter-punch mentality to their woes, following allegations from the soft drinks company that the engine manufacturer is in “a bit of a mess” with regards to their Power Unit development.
Both Red Bull and sister team Toro Rosso suffered failures in Melbourne after finding that the engine mappings were having an effect on their gearboxes, which is why they had that burbling sound throughout the weekend – most notably on the Toro Rosso during the Virtual Safety Car test at the end of Practice One.
Having won three races in 2014 it seems Red Bull are convinced that Renault had made a step backwards in the quest to match Mercedes pace since their drivability has now fallen behind that of the Ferrari’s, which was the worst towards the latter stages of last year before they managed to turn it around.
With Renault seemingly warning Red Bull that a race-winning engine will likely not come until next year, it has led to growing tensions between the two parties heading into the Malaysia Grand Prix weekend. Red Bull themselves have threatened to quit the sport since they no longer see the commercial output it has to offer, whilst Renault are keen to stay in the sport and see their turbo electric hybrid project through.
The engine manufacturer has attributed the poor performance to the shortcuts it has made behind the scenes as per request from Red Bull, with managing director Cyril Abiteboul commenting in French media outlet Auto Hebdo; “the lap time deficit between Red Bull and Mercedes in Melbourne was equally split between driveability issues, engine performance and chassis performance.”
He also added: “It’s difficult to have a partner who lies. Adrian is a charming man and an engineer without parallel, but he’s spent his life criticising engine partners. He’s too old to change his ways.”
Now German media outlet Auto Motor Und Sport has reported that Red Bull plan on building their own Virtual Test Track like Mercedes and Honda, where it can test engines together with a gearbox and chassis for performance data, after loosing trust with their French connection. The thinking is that Red Bull will fulfil the rumours of becoming an engine manufacturer in the future, should Renault’s Power Unit fail to make any improvements over the course of the next couple of months.
Both Abiteboul and Red Bull Team Principle Christian Horner are due to make an appearance in this weekends team principles press conference, which should give us more light on the severity of how these recents comments have affected their relationship.