Engine parity a major issue for RBR

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AUTOSPORT ran a nice story about engine parity and Red Bull’s decision to stay with Renault as their supplier. As you know, the engine freeze has created some parity along certain lines but has been accused of preventing some teams to be competitive with engines such as Mercedes and Ferrari.

Red Bull’s team boss Christian Horner has spoken out about the very issue telling AUTOSPORT:

“The problem is, as it always has been, that under the current regulations, the way that the freeze currently is, you freeze in advantages and disadvantages, and you might think it is ironic that I sit here talking about an engine disadvantage despite having six pole positions and three wins.

“But I think it demonstrates the job the guys are doing with the chassis, they are doing a phenomenal job at the moment because we probably are 20-30bhp down on the class of the field.

“While we enjoy a chassis advantage at the moment, that might not be the case in two or three races times, and then the engine becomes a determining factor, and once you have frozen a product to freeze an advantage or a disadvantage for a three or four years period is unfair.

“The manufacturers need to get together among themselves and agree a formula to move forward.”

No doubt the Renault has been a decent lump over the last couple of years but it was suggested that Red Bull was looking to switch tot he Mercedes engine for 2010 and was scuppered by McLaren’s protestations.

Understandably, you have a freeze on engines and that has frozen performance and reliability to a point. Some teams have appealed to the FIA for special dispensation for reliability issues to upgrade their engines. It was granted and teams also made performance gains with these “upgrades”.

This was never more evident when former Renault boss Flavio Briatore took the engine freeze to the letter of the law in 2008 and was markedly slower than the other teams with their reliability upgrades. When the FIA gave Renault the opportunity to make their own “reliability upgrades”, the engine came to life.

The engine freeze was instituted by former FIA president Max Mosley in an effort to reduce costs in F1. Arguably it may have saved costs but how can teams get parity with an engine freeze? How can Red Bull have an engine as efficient and good as the Mercedes next year with an engine freeze?

Chances are the rule may not change as a new rules overhaul is due for 2013. It is rumored that teams are looking at a turbo 4-cylinder engine format but is that the answer? Haven’t we been there before? Shouldn’t we be looking at new technology?

What is the answer? Can we get low costs engine development that will give teams an advantage over others? Can this become a real element in team-by-team competition or do we need a spec engine that all teams use?

I’ve given Cosworth praise for making an engine that has been reliable and on song with the other engines in the paddock but there is little doubt they could use a serious chance to upgrade and improve their design.

Should we tell all the teams to hold station for 2013 and just start working on a new format in the mean time? What does this do to the racing for the next two years? Knowing that the engine disparity is a real challenge, teams are spending money elsewhere to gain advantages. The cost saving notions in F1 are largely determined by the teams to be honest and unless a cost cap is put in place, teams will always spend the cash they have on the program they design. There is little chance you will get McLaren to spend less on their program without a cap. The same is true for Ferrari and Mercedes GP.

What, as fans, would you like to see? how would you feel about an open development year to get us to the new format in 2013? What ideas do you have that you think will add some parity to the engine debate and offer teams a sporting chance to make gains in the lump area of their cars?

It’s clear that Red Bull are looking for a better performance from their lump and to those ends, McLaren are not keen to see the energy drink team do a deal with Mercedes. Red Bull may be playing their cards is telling Renault they must improve to keep the revenue stream for customer engines but what choice does Renault have?

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