Red Bull’s chief genius, Adrian Newey, is bracing himself for a difficult 2016 season. With a renewed relationship that will find a Renault white-labeled engine in the back of their chassis, the team will promptly badge that Power Unit as a Tag Heuer and go racing.
Much has been made of what kind of engine development will be gained over the winter with the Renault and Newey isn’t expecting a lot according to a Motorsport report. He feels that Ferrari and Mercedes will progress and actually views Red Bull’s sister team, Toro Rosso, as well as McLaren-Honda as a real threat:
“Toro Rosso, our sister team by having a 2015 Ferrari, will be considerably ahead of this year’s Renault power unit.
“I believe Honda, what we have seen, will make a good step. I think their internal combustion engine is a reasonable engine.
“Their problem this year has been that they made the recovery units on the turbo, the MGU-H, far too small. But that is an easy problem to address over the winter.
“So, next year’s going to be very difficult for us. It’s really down to, I think, what happens next with the sport, for 2017 and beyond.
“Is there desire from the governing body to allow private teams such as ourselves to properly have competitive engines or not?”
While last year’s anticipation for the McLaren-Honda mashup was most likely over exaggerated, it is worth keeping in mind that the team have learned a lot over 2015 and they are allowed a full 32 tokens of development. IT would not surprise me in the least to see the team make a significant jump in either performance or reliability or both in 2016.
Red Bull will need to hunker down and right-size their expectations for 2016 while they beaver away on a viable engine alternative for 2017. Team boss Christian Horner feels they spooked Ferrari and Mercedes which prevented them securing an engine supply but even if they had a Merc or Ferrari, I’m not sure Newey feels they would have actually “had” a viable version:
“That’s why teams like Mercedes and Ferrari, who build engines, have the advantage. It’s for these teams to supply engines to customer teams, and obviously they don’t get the same software. Then it gets very difficult for the customer teams.
“Right now, we are in a situation where only Mercedes and Ferrari are in a position to win championship titles. That’s the biggest problem in F1, where Mercedes and Ferrari are controlling the sport.”
The way forward isn’t clear but having viable, competitive engine supplies is a key issue for F1 in 2017 and the FIA are set to make regulation changes to be announced some time in January.