As a engine manufacturer, like Mercedes or Renault, supplying other teams with your power units is a good thing but it also has to be a very complex issue regarding when customer teams receive upgrades or how much information/software the customers get versus your own works team.
If you’re a customer team, you want parity. You want the latest developments, software and systems as the works team is using and in some ways you have to trust that you are receiving that level of service from your supplier.
Red Bull says that they have every confidence that Renault will be providing the latest and greatest power unit even though it sin’t being badged as a Renault. In fact, team boss Christian Horner says it is in Renault’s best interest to do so.
“We have the guarantee of absolute parity – and setting that benchmark is great for them to be able to evaluate themselves against,” Horner said.
“They are in a building process and will have an immediate reference of what their engine is capable of.”
The 2016 season was a tough year for Renault who sallied forth to participate in the Formula 1 season with a chassis originally designed for a Mercedes power unit. The 2017 season should be a different ball of wax for the team and Horner believes that Red Bull’s use of the very latest Renault engine will help their supplier measure their progress in power unit development.
With junior team, Toro Rosso, also using Renault but looking for a different badge sponsor like the big team uses in TAG, Renault will have six cars running their power unit and that’s a good thing in order to fine tune development and asses mileage goals and reliability issues.
There was some discussion in 2016 as to if Mercedes were giving their customers the exact same power unit with all the software trimmings. Renault will find it more difficult as their program slowly moves the team back toward the front of the grid competitively and should they be on par with Red Bull in power but slightly deficient in chassis performance, it will be a bitter pill to swallow but that’s the risk you take in becoming a engine supplier in F1.
The interesting point for me is how the teams know they are using or receiving the very latest in development from a works team. What details are they privy to that assures them they are using the same software and hardware as their supplier’s cars? Or is it a case of taking the initial software and creating their own parameters and developing it on their own?
Hat Tip: Motorsport