Renault, Red Bull, Pirelli, FIA…isn’t F1 hibernating now?

Normally around this time, Formula 1 crawls back in its cave for winter hibernation but it’s finding it difficult to do with all the loose ends lying about such as Renault buying Lotus F1, TAG becoming the brand for Red Bull’s white-labeled Renault engine, Pirelli’s new tire program for 2016 and the Motor Sport Council’s mandate given to Messrs. Ecclestone and Todt.

In all, F1 is having a difficult time getting itself winterized. It can’t seem to find the time for a nice umbrella drink and game of shuffleboard whilst wearing Velcro tennis shoes on the Lido deck. Regardless, there are a few things I’ve noticed.

Red Bull

Red Bull Racing will indeed be in F1 for 2016 and they will do so with a new engine from Renault but It will be badged a TAG Heuer. This is a nod to the new sponsor—which just left McLaren after thirty years because of a difference of opinion with Ron Dennis—and from what I can tell, the engine will be the same as the works team model. Dennis said he didn’t agree with the radical ideas of TAG Heuer TAG Heuer CEO Jean-Claude Biver…like investing in a team and badging their engine? Nice Ron!


Renault comes back to F1 as a works team but it will now do so with a more formal relationship with Ilmor for engine development. An interesting turn as Red Bull had hired Ilmor to help with their engine as they were unhappy with Renault Sport F1’s progress over the 2016 season. Now the intellectual property of that Ilmor/Red Bull mashup may have moved over to Renault for further development or at least that’s my guess.


The World Motor Sport Council met and gave a mandate to Messrs. Ecclestone and Todt for the future of F1. Now this was certainly noticed but the full measure of what that means is yet to be explored. This is why the F1 Strategy Group was arranged the way it was. To give voting power to the FIA and FOM. This is most likely going to start showing its weight throughout the 2016 season with a real aim at making major changes in 2017 without the hassle and inconvenience of teams actually having a strong opinion one way or the other. Let’s just say they’d like to avoid any…Imperial entanglements.

I suspect fat, HD tires, aero changes and perhaps the loss of the ERS in favor of twin turbo or twin exhaust engines with KERS but no MGU-H system. However, if any of these changes are to be made, they will have to be done soon as teams will start on their 2017 program soon.


Pirelli announced that the World Motor Sport Council approved the concept of offering three dry-weather compounds for each race weekend in which teams could choose. In fact, teams could alternate their strategy between drivers if they wanted. A new super, super soft compound with purple banding. The one aftertaste is the details of how the system works and even after reading the Pirelli press release, it still required me to cordon off an area in my mind to grasp the strategic and tactical implications of the program which made me wonder, will fans resonate with this off-track tactical process? It will be decided and tires allocated prior to the race weekend so will they track this type of news and will it resonate?

Chances are, it isn’t meant to resonate with fans as a news feature to be digested rather it will manifest itself on-event when teams make the right or wrong call tactically with tires.

Where’s the cave?

Well those are my thoughts as we head toward F1’s hibernation but what has caught your eye since the last grand prix? Are there other stories preventing F1 from its long winter’s nap?

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Bacon Wrapped Sushi

I’ll be honest. I think I found the first person in F1 I absolutely dislike. It is Ron Dennis. I love this eff you Tag Heuer has given to him. Glad he got knocked down a couple of pegs.

Andreas Möller

So that’s what Christian Horner meant the other day, when he said the engine deal they’d made would annoy Ron Dennis… sneaky :-) Although it’s TAG-Heuer (the watch company), not TAG (the engineering firm), it still has a nice ring to it from those old TAG-Porsche days. But what will they do with the Infinity deal? I heard the car will be named “Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer RB12”, but will the team name still be Infiniti Red Bull? And TAG-Heuer badges or not, it will still be the Renault engine they tried to get away from… Let’s just hope Renault… Read more »

Alianora La Canta

I can’t see Ron ever allowing a sponsor to badge the engine; it goes against his vision of how partnership should work (not enough credit to the engine manufacturer, not enough money likely to be offered to compensate for that credit shifting). I can see the Red Bull/Renault thing getting very strange very quickly – and it may even be to F1’s benefit. The FIA/FOM thing is against the Nice Agreement; even proposing it at WMSC level is likely to weaken their case in the EU courts. It’s almost like they’re asking to receive a severe penalty for breaking the… Read more »


I think naming the engine after a company that has nothing to do with it is really weird and dumb. It’s like when Huffy spray painted other company bicycles with Huffy logos for the Tour de France, only not quite as legitimate or meaningful, because at least Huffy made bikes.

I’m going to go put Barbie stickers over the Porsche letters on my brake calipers and see if Mattel will send me a check.

Tom Firth

It’s no different to Playlife or Acer or really even Petronas for example.


I think it’s really different, because it’s not just a sponsorship, they’re taking a Renault engine, writing TAG on it, and saying TAG is making their engines. It’s all well to have a laptop computer as a sponsor, but when you black out ‘Pirelli’ with a sharpie and try to tell the world the laptop company made your tires you just look like a stupid fool, at least to me.

Tom Firth

Prost took a Ferrari engine and wrote Acer on it, Sauber took a Ferrari engine and wrote Petronas on it, Benetton was a little different because briatore by that stage owned the IP and distribution rights to the engine, but it was still at its core a Renault engine with a clothing companies brandname “playlife” wrote on it. I don’t see myself how any of those examples are different to the LVMH owned brand, placing TAG Heuer as a badge on a Renault in 2016. I don’t like it but I don’t see the difference either, think we will agree… Read more »


We might not disagree, I’m honestly not familiar enough with those examples to understand whether you’re talking about the same thing or not. To me for instance when you mentioned Petronas I was thinking of the current Petronas sponsorship at Mercedes, which is different in my opinion. So, maybe there are other examples just as stupid and if so I don’t disagree that there are. But I think we are both saying it’s dumb. Especially for a company that’s like ‘we are breaking our agreement because this company’s product is such garbage we can’t stand the sight of their faces… Read more »

Junipero Mariano

Remember the comment made by Ron Dennis regarding title sponsorship at the beginning of the season? Everyone wondered why McLaren hadn’t found one after Vosafone left. This must’ve figured in somehow with TAG Heuer switching sponsorship.