Red Bull are desperate to receive Renault upgrades sooner than later as they bid to stay in touch with Ferrari and Mercedes in the Formula 1 ‘arms race’ this season, but now it seems they will have to wait until the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in late June for the much needed power boost.
The energy drinks outfit, after finishing second in the championship last year, have dropped to third in the pecking order with the gap to the pace setters increasing with every race.
Thus much of the team’s hope has hinged on a raft of updates to be rolled out for Barcelona, but problems with Renault’s development means that only chassis upgrades are on the cards for the next round of the title race.
Reliability issues have forced Renault, who supply engines to Red Bull and Toro Rosso, to delay the roll-out of their engine upgrades.
Managing director Cyril Abiteboul outlined the new schedule for the updated engine, “We want to do that before the summer break. We want to keep it in sync with the power unit integration, and we want to do that with power unit number three [of the season] if possible.”
“It is something that is still work in progress. We are touching some limitations, but we believe the concept that we have introduced this year is the right concept.”
“There is innovation in the pipeline and there is performance in the pipeline. The thing we need to get under control is engine reliability, I’ve said that on many occasions.”
“We know there is some fragility in the system that we need to cope with. It is true on the track and it is true on the dyno.”
“It is the same thing for Honda; reliability issues are also hurting you in your development programme back to base, and that is the sort of thing that is hurting us – we need to manage that.”
Abiteboul is confident that despite the delay, they will deliver a competitive power unit, “I am not lowering my ambition to be able to cut massively the gap to Mercedes and Ferrari that is still here. I am not saying we are on a par with them now, but we have a plan for that.”
A big chassis upgrade to the RB13 is on the cards for Spain, but Max Verstappen revealed that the power unit upgrade is not expected for some time, “This is just the way it is; you can’t change anything about this,” he said of the delay.”
“We just need to make sure we have a good car and then it’s just a matter of waiting for Baku,” added Verstappen who finished a distant fifth at the Russian Grand Prix while teammate Daniel Ricciardo retired his car on lap five when his brakes caught fire.