Renault’s Rob White gives a frank assessment of the three F1 pre-season tests

Rob White with Red Bull's Adrian Newey, Rob Marshall and Christian Horner beforeit all started to go wrong at Jerez

Rob White with Red Bull’s Adrian Newey, Rob Marshall and Christian Horner beforeit all started to go wrong at Jerez

The Renault Energy F1-2014 made its debut in pre-season testing in Jerez. While the initial feedback was less than ideal, the team at Renault Sport F1 has taken great strides in the subsequent two tests in Bahrain.

With less than two weeks until Melbourne, the team at Viry is now flat out readying the PU and the systems for its first-ever race.

Here’s a look back at the story of the testing period with Renault F1 Sport deputy managing director (technical) Rob White:

Formula One Testing, Jerez, Spain, Day Three, Thursday 30 January 2014.

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo day three in Bahrain

“We have not run enough laps, and when we have they have not been run at an acceptable performance level. The underlying causes are not straightforward: there isn’t a single component or system that has caused particular trouble. A number of related things have been troublesome, principally concerning the control and operation of the various sub-systems of the Power Unit within the car.”

“At this stage every kilometre is hugely valuable. We are a long way from the type of operation we had planned and prepared for, but all the information is useful. In dealing with the issues we have moved further away from the configuration we were comfortable with, which has resulted in the relatively slow times, but the running has given us a vastly greater understanding of the issues we face. We absolutely expect to have a more definitive solution in place for the next session in Bahrain.”

Pastor Maldonado  Lotus E22 Day 3 Bahrain

Pastor Maldonado Lotus E22 day three Bahrain

Bahrain Test 1

“We have had some set-backs, but we have definitely made progress and have taken several steps forward. The changes have improved the PU behaviour in the car and we are have accumulated valuable mileage. There have been stoppages, on our side and on the chassis side as well, but we have ironed out some important faults and allowed the teams to gain crucial experience of the car as a whole.”

“We made a number of specification changes to the Energy Store (battery), involving modified hardware, requiring some gymnastics in engineering, procurement, assembly and logistics.”

“We also introduced two levels of PU control system software updates; the first being effectively what would have been a decent starting point for Jerez. It eliminated some bugs that allowed us to make mapping and calibration corrections, which subsequently allowed us to operate the cars in a more robust way to gather mileage.”

‘The second layer of software changes had more functionality to allow a greater authority to the control systems, giving better performance and driveability, and a larger degree of Power Unit systems integration.

“While we are not at the level of operation and performance we would want to be, we have a more solid basis to work from, and we are moving in the right direction.”

Marcus Ericsson's Caterham CT05 goes up in smoke on day two in Bahrain

Marcus Ericsson’s Caterham CT05 goes up in smoke on day two in Bahrain

Bahrain Test 2

“The aim of the last test session before Australia was to recover some of the lost ground from the previous test sessions and to rehearse the Grand Prix. We wanted each of our four teams to be able to approach a normal race weekend without having to improvise any of the procedures or operations needed.”

“We can’t escape the fact that we did not complete the entire programme with all the teams and that some Melbourne preparations are incomplete. On the up-side, we have done some of everything, with simulations of qualifying sessions, starts, race distances and long stints and it is fair to say that once again we have made some real progress.”

“Melbourne will be an anxious weekend! Conducting a normal race weekend, in which both cars run well during each session for every team, would be a great relief. I hope we can support our teams and drivers to explore the performance of the car and allow the race to deliver its sporting verdict.” (Renault)

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  • Nowhereman

    What a joke.

  • Hugo Lafreniere

    If they really only provided teams with an actual engine in Jerez, that is indeed a joke.

  • karlich

    Basically confirms what Helmut Marko said in a recent interview. Yeah, agreed, it is very surprising, so much so to the extent that I’d also be inclined to call it a bad joke, that any team would rely on a supplier, no less a supplier of arguably the most important part of the car, to deliver their goods on the day they’re to run for the first time. All good to trust ’em, but that’s just too much trust I would have thought.

  • Hugo Lafreniere

    What did they use to build the car then? Theoretical measurements? A real engine/ERS/all that crap, but non-functioning ones (a dummy/mock-up)? Mercedes and Ferrari fired up their engine last year (IIRC); didn’t anyone at renault-supplied teams ask when Viry-Chatillon would do the same? I’d be mortified if my competitors had a working engine to look at, listen to and work around, and I was stuck at my desk waiting for the actual product to be delivered the day of the first test. What were Renault thinking?

  • karlich

    No idea. All I can repeat is that Marko said all Renault teams received their engines in Jerez for the first time and that they weren’t provided specific cooling requirements or figures related to heat generation. Either way, even if that’s true, the teams are as much to blame for letting themselves be led blindfolded in to the season.

  • Hugo Lafreniere

    EXACTLY! I would’ve been ringing the alarm bells a week after Mercedes and Ferrari fired their engines.

  • RBC

    Agreed, Renault screwed up and the teams let them.

  • farizY

    A huge blunder on Renault’s part, was not expecting this from a well respected car manufacturer.

  • Mike Ramay

    Or this is the biggest sandbag job by Renault that anyone has seen. They look like crap, the other teams don’t have a huge (faster) target so they don’t try as hard, Renault comes in and smokes them.

  • mpz

    this is the V10 days all over again, was more than a season before they caught up then, hope it isn’t the same this time.

  • Sarah Jayne

    Red Bull are foxing – I wouldn’t put any under-handed tactics past them.

  • farizY

    Seem unlikely,but would be epic if it is.

  • bobmendon

    Hey…it’s not just Red Bull. Maybe you need to have someone read the big words to you from the various articles attesting to the fact this is impacting more than one team.

  • Sarah Jayne

    No need to be nasty – I am aware all the teams running Renault engines are struggling. It’s going to be a very interesting year in F1.

  • Christopher Smith

    Don’t worry about bob. He tries his best to put forward his view with weak facts and pictures if his big furry face

  • McLarenfan

    I read somewhere that Renault ran all the systems individually but never as a whole until they got to Jerez. What were they thinking or more to the point they were not thinking.