Analysis: New livery, same engine woes for Red Bull?

When Red Bull pulls off the covers on its 2016 Formula 1 livery in London on Wednesday night, it will not be lost on the team that its chances of success this season still hang on what is going on deep inside the car.

Analysis: New livery, same engine woes for Red Bull?
Red Bull Racing logo on a truck
Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull Racing RB11
Renault Sport F1 and Red Bull Racing trucks in the paddock
Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull Racing
Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing RB11
Daniil Kvyat and Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing RB11
Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing RB11
Red Bull Racing and Renault Sport F1 trucks in the paddock
Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing RB11
Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing
Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull Racing RB11
Dr Helmut Marko, Red Bull Motorsport Consultant
Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing RB11
Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull Racing RB11
Franz Tost, Scuderia Toro Rosso, Team Principal and Remi Taffin, Renault Sport F1 Head of track operations
Remi Taffin, Renault Sport F1 Head of track operations and Dr Helmut Marko, Red Bull Motorsport Consultant
(L to R): Niki Lauda, Mercedes Non-Executive Chairman with Dr Helmut Marko, Red Bull Motorsport Consultant
(L to R): Dr Helmut Marko, Red Bull Motorsport Consultant with Niki Lauda, Mercedes Non-Executive Chairman
Remi Taffin, Renault Sport F1 Head of track operations
Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull Racing RB11
Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull Racing RB11

For however much any bold new colour schemes, and fanfare from new engine-naming partner TAG Heuer, shout of a bright new era from the team, if Renault does not make progress then results will still be hard to come by.

But does a changed relationship between Red Bull and its engine supplier mean it now has even less chance of success, or will the revamped effort from Renault actually help it move on from the nightmares of the past?

Relationship breakdown

Red Bull and Renault went to the brink last year as competitive struggles and a public war of words left their relationship in tatters, and them all set for an acrimonious parting of ways.

In the end, as Mercedes, Ferrari and Honda refused to play ball, Red Bull had to return cap in hand to Renault to renew their deal, albeit under very different circumstances.

From now on, Red Bull is no longer the preferred partner: for Renault has its own works team and everything is being done is to ensure that its Enstone operation gets back to the top.

And secondly, Red Bull will have a tougher time criticising its engine partner – for the TAG Heuer rebranding should help a little in ensuring that Renault's name does not get dragged through the mud.

Closing the gap

Red Bull may then no longer be leading the charge to fast-track Renault's success, but that does not mean the French car manufacturer is simply sitting back.

Renault's Remi Taffin thinks that work done over the winter should allow it to have halved the gap it faced last year to Mercedes, something which should allow Red Bull to make progress too.

“We are looking at the first half of the step we are having to Mercedes,” explained Taffin. “When I say first half, it is because we never know how the competitors will improve over the winter.

“If we were a second off last year, maybe we will get back three or four tenths. We will see what we have got testing and racing.”

New way of working

One thing is clear, though: Renault will not be rushing things through to make rapid progress in 2016, no matter what noises come out of Milton Keynes.

Instead, it will all be about laying foundations for 2017: when Renault wants its own works team to enjoy the fruits of its labour.

“There is a stepped programme, but the programme is made for 2017,” added Taffin. “Obviously we are racing every other weekend in 2016, but it will still be driven by the fact of: is it a good thing for 2017? If yes, we do it.

“In 2016 we have to be humble because we want to finish races, and we want to be quicker and quicker. So we will see how we develop that strategy. It will be based on what we got up to last year.”

That is not to say, however, that there will not be any updates in 2016.

"You always push to have things at the earliest, and at one point you have to commit as you have to produce parts. So we will go through 2016 taking opportunities – and taking opportunities means you cannot have specific planning: and we have specific planning going to 2017."

Fresh motivation

If Red Bull is after some encouragement, though, it comes from the fact that amid all the restructuring going on at Renault for its works team, there is increased resources, input from Ilmor and management changes designed to deliver results that simply were not possible before.

"We've been empowered to achieve winning," said Taffin.

That means Taffin and his crew have the power now to dance to their own tune – and make developments as they see fit: rather than facing the pressure from Red Bull to deliver everything now.

"I think I am more confident that the decisions we will be making will be our decisions, so we have to be in charge of that decision and deliver," he said.

"The pressure, it is a good pressure, when you do decide things and you deliver that is a good thing. If you haven't got that pressure that you are obliged to do this or that or this step.

"If we had done a better job in 2014 or 2015, I don't think Red Bull would not be asking for more.

"Having Renault behind us, it gives us freedom that I can plan things for two or three years rather than answering a customer who wants something for the next race."

Marko games

Even so, we've already seen the first inkling that the political battleground between Red Bull and Renault will remain intense.

Only a few weeks ago, Helmut Marko suggested the French car manufacturer should throw all its weight behind his team rather than its own works outfit.

"If Renault were clever they would put everything on us, because with this team (Lotus) and these drivers they won't manage anything at all," he said.

For Renault's engine technical director Taffin, being on the receiving end of such politically-loaded comments is nothing new – and he brushes the situation off.

"If I was Dr. Marko, that is exactly what I would say," he smiles. "He has got his team, he wants the best for his team and he wants to win.

"I would have been surprised if he had said the opposite, to be fair, but this is my own judgement.

"After that, I think what will be delivered is the same engine as Renault. And, as we wish to make Renault win, at one point we will have to have a very good engine.

"So if it is still fitting that engine into his chassis then he should have a competitive package, because we know how they are capable of producing good chassis.

"That will make a good battle. I will be happy to get a fight with Red Bull and eventually win obviously."

Embracing the future

Taffin is clear that Renault's situation in F1 right now is not simply down to the fact that relations with Red Bull collapsed so it had to do its own thing.

Instead, its about believing and investing in a better future that can deliver results for his company.

"If you understand why Renault is back in F1, it has nothing to do with the past with Red Bull," he said. "It is what we want to achieve for the future."

And any progress that comes on the engine will help any car it is fitted in: whatever the colours are on the outside.

shares
comments
Complicated F1 tyre rules should deliver variety, says Key
Previous article

Complicated F1 tyre rules should deliver variety, says Key

Next article

Red Bull unveils revamped F1 livery

Red Bull unveils revamped F1 livery
Load comments
How getting sacked from Benetton made Mercedes' Allison Prime

How getting sacked from Benetton made Mercedes' Allison

He’s had a hand in world championship-winning Formula 1 cars for Benetton, Renault and Mercedes, and was also a cog in the Schumacher-Ferrari axis. Having recently ‘moved upstairs’ as Mercedes chief technical officer, James Allison tells Stuart Codling about his career path and why being axed by Benetton was one of the best things that ever happened to him.

Formula 1
Nov 28, 2021
The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback Prime

The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback

It’s easy to look at Robert Kubica’s second Formula 1 career and feel a sense of sadness that he didn’t reach the heights for which he seemed destined. But as Ben Anderson discovered, performance and results are almost meaningless in this context – something more fundamental and incredible happened…

Formula 1
Nov 27, 2021
The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver for McLaren Prime

The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver for McLaren

From being lapped by his own teammate in Monaco to winning at Monza, it’s been a tumultuous first season at McLaren for Daniel Ricciardo. But, as he tells STUART CODLING, there’s more to the story of his turnaround than having a lovely summer holiday during Formula 1's summer break...

Formula 1
Nov 26, 2021
The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title Prime

The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title

As the battle continues to rage over the F1 2021 drivers' championship, teams up and down the grid are turning their attentions to the prize money attributed to each position in the constructors' standings. But F1's sliding scale rules governing wind tunnel and CFD use will soften the blow for those who miss out on the top places

Formula 1
Nov 25, 2021
The invisible enemy that's made Hamilton's title charge tougher Prime

The invisible enemy that's made Hamilton's title charge tougher

After winning his past few Formula 1 titles as a canter, Lewis Hamilton currently trails Max Verstappen by eight points heading into the final double-header of 2021. Although Red Bull has been his biggest on-track challenge, Hamilton feels that he has just as much to grapple with away from the circuit

Formula 1
Nov 24, 2021
Why F1's inconvenient penalties have to stay Prime

Why F1's inconvenient penalties have to stay

OPINION: Quibbles over the length of time taken by Formula 1's stewards over decisions are entirely valid. But however inconvenient it is, there can be no questioning the importance of having clearly defined rules that everyone understands and can stick to. Recent events have shown that ambiguity could have big consequences

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2021
The mistakes Red Bull cannot afford to repeat in F1 2021's title fight climax Prime

The mistakes Red Bull cannot afford to repeat in F1 2021's title fight climax

OPINION: Red Bull has had Formula 1’s fastest package for most of 2021, but in several of the title run-in events it has wasted the RB16B’s potential. It cannot afford to do so again with Lewis Hamilton motoring back towards Max Verstappen in the drivers’ standings with two rounds remaining

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2021
Qatar Grand Prix driver ratings Prime

Qatar Grand Prix driver ratings

Qatar was a virtual unknown for most as Formula 1 made its inaugural visit to the Gulf state, and tyre management quickly emerged as an even more critical factor than normal. Perhaps then it should come as no surprise that two of the championship's elder statesmen produced standout drives

Formula 1
Nov 22, 2021