Rumors to the effect that Renault could be planning to sell its F1 engine department in Viry come at exactly the same time as suggestions that Red Bull wants to do its own thing on the power unit front – and it’s not hard to tie the two together.
Logic suggests that rather than attempt to start its own engine operation from scratch, Red Bull could take over Viry and introduce its own systems and key personnel in an attempt to improve the situation. It’s worth noting that Dr Helmut Marko has been spending a lot of time there recently.
While this would be an expensive exercise, it’s worth noting that with RBR and Toro Rosso the company is already paying two substantial bills each year. In addition, sources say that Red Bull and in particular Dr Marko has been paying close attention lately to the future of Caterham.
The team is already a customer for the Red Bull gearbox, and it would be natural for the deal to be extended to cover a power unit package as well, and provide further income to offset Red Bull’s costs. The same could potentially go for Lotus as well.
Christian Horner was keen on Sunday evening to express doubts about his supplier: “There needs to be change at Renault, because it can’t continue like this. It’s not good for Renault, it’s not good for Red Bull. We need to work together as partners – there will not be another engine in the back of the car next year, we want to be competitive, we want to run at the front, and these kinds of issues can’t and shouldn’t happen.
“Something needs to happen, because whatever’s being done there is not working at the moment. It’s not our business, it’s not our responsibility, we’re the end user. It’s just frustrating that the product is just not working at the moment.”
Could that change be a take over by Red Bull? And could one of Adrian Newey’s future projects be to offer some direction to the engine department?
Of course the key thing is that a change of owner and approach might not be enough. What Viry needs to do is forget the currently homologated engine and start afresh with all the knowledge gained in recent months, and from its observations of what Mercedes has done.
A brand new power unit – badged a Red Bull or perhaps Infiniti – could then be homologated for 2016, and it would be several steps ahead of what the homologation regulations would allow Renault to do should it just continue with the current unit.
The name change and loss of Renault identity would also suit Infiniti, which sources say is keen to distance itself from the Renault name, which does not have the high-end associations it desires.
Rivals clearly won’t be happy at the idea of Renault/Vity getting this second chance to bypass the homologation rules and build a V6 turbo power unit, even if was under a different name.
When Horner was asked on Sunday if would be possible for such a scenario to unfold he simply smiled and said he believed it was…Christian Horner, Formula 1, Red Bull Racing, Renault