Newey: Red Bull being forced out of F1

Reading Matt Smith’s article at Reuters regarding Red Bull Racing being forced out of Formula 1, you have to put your bias aside to really get a feel for what legendary car designer Adrian Newey is saying.

You have to set aside your thoughts about how they handled their Renault relationship or how they are “whinging” about not winning and really look beyond those surface tensions to understand their point of view.

In essence, you have an engine regulation that is killing F1 with costs and frozen development causing a disparity in performance and an inability to make meaningful development gains against a single team which in this case happens to be Mercedes.

Ferrari have done the best job of closing the gap but according to James Allison, they are only half way there and need to replicate their 2015 gains in 2016 to get anywhere close to Mercedes. You have to also consider that the FIA have also locked down the aerodynamic freedom making this specification more dependent on the engine and creative aero incapable of making up the deficit that Renault, Honda or Ferrari currently have.

Given this stark reality, the FIA have refused to get involved and this leaves only two engines that can run somewhat close to each other…Mercedes and Ferrari. Neither company will supply engines to Red Bull Racing (RBR) because they fear that running the same engines will give RBR an opportunity to actually beat the works team given Newey’s genius and RBR’s resources. Newey told Baldwin:

“Within the regulations, the engines can be balanced somewhat so that there’s less of a performance disparity then there is at the moment, but the FIA has been unwilling to do this,” he said.

“We need to get back to the position where all teams have access to an engine which is there or thereabouts — if it’s a couple of percent behind then okay, but when it’s 10 percent behind it’s too big a gap,” said Newey.

“As an engineer, I’d liked to see more flexibility in the chassis regulations so that teams can find benefit through ingenuity and creativity.”

Here he is speaking to the inability to creatively work your way out of an engine deficit with aerodynamics. It has been a regulation clamp down that could be the impetus for Newey’s reduced role in RBR’s F1 program due to lack of interest.

It’s a draconian world in F1 and I do believe that series boss, Bernie Ecclestone, has been working hard on this issue to keep RBR in the sport but Newey feels that the rivals could be literally forcing them out of the sport:

“We’re possibly going to be forced out of Formula One — Mercedes and Ferrari have refused to supply us out of fear,”

He may be right. The rivals know they have a major player in RBR and their departure would leave less well-funded competition for them. RBR did just win four titles on the trot and given their resources and the genius of Newey, their rivals are right to fear the capabilities of this team given a strong engine. With a Mercedes engine, there is every chance RBR would be fighting for another title.

This also leaves a possibility of poaching which is never nice. If RBR is still unclear on what they will do in 2016, employees at the team have to think about their future and I would guess that the paddock is ripe with offers for key personnel at the team to leave due to this uncertainty. Consider what Newey’s future holds and who may interested in luring him away from a defunct F1 team.

Could this be a case of systematically using RBR’s situation, some of it self-created, to collapse the F1 racing juggernaut and loot it’s coffers? Who knows but I wouldn’t put it past anyone in F1.

Will F1 survive without RBR? I am sure it will but if I’m honest, these engines are technically speaking, amazing pieces of engineering but they are killing this sport through costs, development restrictions and a complete lack of parity.

Look at it this way, HRT, Caterham and Manor were all put in administration over these new engines and Sauber as well as Force India are clinging to life support and while we were all concerned over these engine regulations hurting the small teams, it seems the power unit now has to opportunity to kill one of the sports biggest investors and players as well as 4-time title winners. Regardless of how you feel about RBR, that’s a horrible situation for the sport to be in.

I have a lot of time for the privateers such as McLaren, Williams, Sauber, Force India and chiefly RBR because of their total investment in the series including the Austrian GP. This is a dire situation and I am gutted that we have come to this point.

Hat Tip: Reuters

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longshot

Just as an aside, if RBR/Toro Rosso go that’ll leave 18 cars on the grid. Is that sufficiently low that 3-car teams will have to be introduced – do we know that for certain? And if so, which teams will add the extra cars? There’s four talented drivers that’ll be suddenly up for grabs, I’m just wondering if there’ll be enough seats when the music stops.

But yes this situation stinks. I for one am not looking forward to seeing three Mercedes drivers on the podium throughout 2016 and beyond.

Alianora La Canta

It’s low enough that the FIA is permitted to call for and require 3rd cars from 3 specified teams with 60 days’ notice if it chooses, but high enough that it’s not forced to (the mandatory threshold is 16). Because the requirement was last reviewed in 2012 and based on competitiveness at that time, the required parties are Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren. My guess is that Mercedes would pick up the Red Bull requirement unless someone manages to commit a total blooper at the wrong moment (the teams seem to think a 3rd car is a punishment due to… Read more »

longshot

Thanks for the info! So we don’t know if the 3rd cars will even be required. If not, the only available spaces on the grid will be one spot at Lotus (if they exist next year), one spot at Haas and two at Manor. And the likes of Magnussen and Vandoorne would just have to sit on the sidelines & wait…

Alianora La Canta

Red Bull is forcing itself out of F1 because it decided to egregiously and constantly berate its supplier (as opposed to politely and gently noting its shortcomings McLaren-style). It has made the other suppliers think it cannot be worked with in the “works” manner it wants, and it has already shown it is unsuited to being a customer through its poor attitude. While I believe there should be a rule forcing engine manufacturers to supply enough units between them to cover everyone, I also think that a manufacturer cannot be expected to supply a team on terms that would be… Read more »

Negative Camber

I get the point on how they handled Renault, I do, but I think that’s what Newey’s saying here. Fine, their Renault is a bit of a dog but they also locked out development and aero so he can’t even help overcome a Renault deficit. Now they are left trying to get an engine to be competitive and Ferrari nor Merc will budge.

MIE

Newey as an aerodynamics engineer is only complaining that his specialization is no longer dominant, much like when End I Ferrari stated that aerodynamics was for those who couldn’t build engines.
The dominance of one over the other has always ebbed and flowed in the sport, and the long standing teams have had to adapt to the changes accordingly.
Perhaps Jackie Stewart will come to the rescue and buy his old team back for £1, much like Ross Brawn did?

Negative Camber

He may be but the issues still makes sense to me in that if you are going to lock down the engine regs so tight with limited development while reducing aero innovation points, this makes the engine the majority of the story. It that wasn’t true, we wouldn’t see Williams running up front just 12 months on from their worst season in team history. So…there you have the issue. It’s not just him crying, “no one will let me do my aero tricks”, it’s that this is one of the few ways they could take a lesser engine and have… Read more »

MIE

The team won three races last season, and were Mercedes closest challenger. The regulations didn’t change that much between last season and this, but between them Red Bull and Renault developed less than all their opposition with the exception of Manor and McLaren. Renault were the instigator of the change to small capacity turbo engines, and Ferrari were the team to insist on a change from in line four to V6. Yes Mercedes did a better initial job with these regulations, but Ferrari are catching up and there is no reason why Honda and Renault cannot do likewise. Renault spent… Read more »

Patrick Chapman

There was a major change in the rules to the front end and ride height which essentially destroyed Red Bulls aero theory. That is why they have only just caught up again in thet department. But there is nothing that they can do about the power deficit because of the regulations. That is not right in any sport and I can’t blame them for being frustrated. Negative cambers comments and understanding of this situation is right on the money. You have to look broader than just Red Bull.

MIE

Both Mercedes and Ferrari have made significant gains this year, how is that possible if the regulations prevent it?
The problem seems to me to be the relationship between team and power unit provider breaking down to the extent that all development has stopped.

Negative Camber

There is a fine detail there that I simply do not have the timeline on. I kind of think I can recall the words getting amped up right after Renault announced they weren’t going to develop their engine this year. I may be wrong but I don’t recall harsh words in 2014 from RBR rather “we’re a team” kind of talk.

MIE

Certainly if Red Bull are to continue with Renault then the relationship needs to be repaired such that they can make best use of the development tokens in the remaining races this season. That way they can prepare for more significant upgrade over the winter.
What I don’t know is whether Renault even have any modifications on the drawing board that could be tried in the car this season. It would require the team to invest in the updates (if nothing else it would mean further grid penalties), but I suspect Renault would need a financial contribution as well.

Negative Camber

Indeed. So in effect, they are collateral damage in Renault’s performance gap and there is no way to engineer your way back up front from your in-house team due to regulations and your engine maker isn’t developing. I’d be pissed too.

longshot

Just a quick note on this – for Merc at least, they’ve been pretty clear in saying they won’t supply RBR because the bulls would be too much of a threat. I don’t think the war of words between Renault and Horner/Marko has anything to do with it. I’d say Ferrari also views the competitive angle as its main reason for refusing to supply power units. In other words, all of this would have happened at the end of 2016, even if Red Bull had said absolutely nothing in public about Renault’s engines. Imagine if Williams got too big for… Read more »

Roger Flerity

At what time has it ever been in F1 that a large number of teams are in parity? The sport has always been a blend of two or three top teams, a midfield, and an array of back-marker teams. The sport has always had a cycling of team being dominant, then falling back. The sport has always been a changing evolution of tech specifications that have set back top players, some recover, so don’t. That’s what this sport has been from day uno. Where does Red Bull come off thinking it deserves the fruits of the massive investment Mercedes and… Read more »

Negative Camber

I’m not arguing for complete parity and I doubt Adrian would either. It’s the ability to achieve parity that is now being hobbled with the engine and aero regs. Also, at what time has F1 ever been a series with teams who have no hubris? When you have the talent and resources to win, being hobbled by regulations and not your own inability to perform whether that be resources or talent, is a tough situation. This is coming from a Ferrari fan, not a RBR fan although I like their product. :) This could easily be Sauber, McLaren or Williams… Read more »

Roger Flerity

I do not hate Red Bull, that’s a tired and over-used tactic of social media in any discourse, please give that a break. The sport has lost more interesting players in the past and even greater constructors over the decades, not to mention some great drivers over the ages… Red Bull is not that unique an entity, nor does it have very deep roots. Want an alternative theory to this spate of press releases and statements orchestrated by the team and its owner? It could be positioning in preparation of defense against future legal action. Red Bull may be fabricating… Read more »

Patrick Chapman

Never before in the history of F1 have regulations prevented teams from being competative until the introduction of the hybrid PU’s. Previously if you started a season on the back foot you could catch up during the season with developement. That is no longer the case and it must change. I hope that RBR are the catalyst that brings about such a change regardless of the final outcome to themselves. The sport is very ill at the moment and it needs major surgery. What negative camber is saying makes perfect sense, just not enough people in the right places are… Read more »

Roger Flerity

Modern F1 has always had single dominant power unit makers, so the current arrangement and result is not a sign of illness, just a matter of its reality. Ford Cosworth DFV dominated 1968-74, 78, 80-81, Ferrari 75-77, 79, 82-83, 00-04, 07-08; TAG 84-85; Honda 86-91; Renault 92-97; Renault 10-13, and Mercedes 98, 09, and now 14-15. 47 years, numerous reg changes… only 6 dominant engines. Not one of these periods has there been a case of one of the non-dominant producers catching up and passed the early dominant package over the season. In most cases, when the regs allowed mid-season… Read more »

Negative Camber

I may not be doing a very good job of explaining what I am talking about. This isn’t a case of domination in the sport for me. When BMW were in the sport with Williams, it was well-known they had the best engine on the grid…they didn’t win titles. It isn’t just the engine (I I’m not patronizing you here, I know you know that) but this is not what I’m really focused on here. You are right, you’ll recall Honda, BMW and Toyota all leaving at the same time. Did it kill F1? Of course not and they, collectively,… Read more »

Paul KieferJr

“Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the Earth!? Declare, if thou hast understanding!” Book of Job, Chapter 38, Verse 4, KJV

Paul KieferJr

It’s a conspiracy, I tell ya! The inmates are running the asylum!
The only way to settle this is to separate the works from the privateers and put them each in their own class (“Formula 1-W vs. Formula 1-P”). All the works teams are fighting for supremacy and any privateer that threatens them end up with cement overshoes. [/silly-mafia-conspiracy]

Abhishek

You have to feel for Renault, even in hindsight (after so many years) when an article is written to describe the golden years of RedBull, its always about the genius of Newey and not a single word about Renault’s engine and its drivability. We all know there was an aero era when RB and Newey won everything and rest of F1 teams had to live with the fact that they didn’t have the genius of Newey and now is the Engine era, where Mercedes is the name to reckon with and the rest of F1 has to up their game… Read more »

nightryder21

Difference being that engine regulations are holding engine manufacturers back. Rules are keeping Mercedes in front. Not to mention they had a two year head start developing the their engine before teams even knew there was going to be an engine change. Complete bullshit.

Negative Camber

I agree.They are really kicking the sport in the shin. Briatore agrees with me to so there’s that. And he wears a mankini!

Abhishek

Yes the rules are hurting, but then why do the smartest in F1 signup for them and crib later ? This is something that just baffles me ! No wonder Adam Parr…was asked to leave, he was making to much sense in all the chaos!

Negative Camber

I think most of us recognize the brilliance of Renault, Keep in mind that this plucky little Lotus team is still innovating or at least was, some very big things in F1. When the team was Renault, it won titles so I certainly have a huge amount of respect for them. I didn’t like their threat to leave if F1 didn’t move toward hybrid engines but that is neither here nor there.

Hayden

However Lotus at the first sign of Renault engines being dodgy in 2014 broke a multi year deal to sign up with Merc engines for 3 years.
Where was the backlash against Lotus like there is against Red Bull now.

MIE

Lotus weren’t left without a power unit, they had acted a supply from Mercedes. If Red Bull had done the same there wouldn’t be the story now. As it is, Red Bull appeared to believe that they would get a choice of power units, with Mercedes and Ferrari fighting to supply the team. The reality has been somewhat different. Given the way Renault were criticized even while the team were winning, it could be an understandable response from the manufacturers.

pmr

That’s not entirely correct. Toto Wolf said (somewhere in the beginning of summer) that they would not enter negotiations with RBR until the tied up things with their current engine supplier. This was due to Mercedes doing Business with Renault outside of F1 and they didn’t want there to be any bad blood. So RDR terminated the contract with Renault, after which Mercedes said ‘No way you’re getting our engines’. Thats just dirty tactics.

The Sarcastic SOB

Actually I’ve read in other places that it’s not been officially terminated, just that they’ve all “agreed” to do it.

Junipero Mariano

Is this the end for Red Bull in F1. It seems to be a real possibility, at least for team ownership. Is this the end for Milton Keynes and Faenza? It doesn’t have to be. We saw it happen with Honda/Brawn/Mercedes. It will probably happen for those teams too.

Junipero Mariano

I think has been missing from this whole discourse has been a measured response from Red Bull in this matter. They’re completely justified in being frustrated with their situation. If they voiced their opinion with some decorum, Renault wouldn’t feel so disenchanted and they’d have an engine for next year, even if RB decided to go with someone else. If in the end, Mr. Mate shout could go to Bernie and Jean stated he would sell the teams because of such and such reasons, and they could take it or leave it. Instead they seem to be telegraphing, “hey I… Read more »

longshot

I guess Toro Rosso could be sold as at least they have an (old spec) engine offer from Ferrari and hence could make the grid, even though they’ll likely be running toward the back.

RBR’s another story – they have no engine, so who would want to buy them? I think only Renault could do so (which would likely mean that Lotus goes bankrupt), but would Mateschitz sell to Renault? I seriously doubt it.

hayden

Year old engines are not allowed at the moment.
Appendix 4 of the technical regulations was tightened up to keep all teams on equal footing, but it is understood the plan is to revise it once more.

longshot

You’re right, and furthermore the FIA have just now ruled out the use of old-spec engines for 2015…

http://www.skysports.com/f1/news/12433/10028097/fia-rule-customer-power-units-to-be-same-specification-works-team

So its Renault or bust, for both RB teams.

oregonwings

I can’t help but agree in that it is the regulations and lack of development that has caused so much grief for (insert team without a Merc engine here). Any team that misses the mark is then locked in with very limited ability to make significant changes and be competitive. I feel for Renault because it isn’t completely their fault that they have a lump of an engine due to the regs that don’t allow much future development. That said, RBR was also quiet for the first season the new engines were introduced even though they performed so dreadfully. It… Read more »

Negative Camber

That’s the point I am trying to make and perhaps you’ve done a better job than I at making it. RBR didn’t complain in the 5 years it took to get to to winning ways and they didn’t complain last year but Renault decided to not spend tokens this year (initially) and that was when RBR started to ask why? They also can’t use their main brain in discovering a way to overcome their engine deficiency and remain competitive to justify the expense. Honestly, I understand it and I’m a Ferrari fan. :)

F1Racer

Red Bull made their own bed and now they have to lie in it. It’s that simple.

Negative Camber

I understand but I can’t agree with it being that simple. There is a bigger under tow here.

F1Racer