Renault Sport F1 Deputy Managing Director Rob White has called this week’s pre-season test failures associated with the company’s new power unit “unacceptable” but insists the manufacturer has the “necessary tools and determination to succeed”.
Cars powered by the manufacturer’s Energy F1-2014 power unit suffered a catalogue of problems at this week’s test in Jerez, with Red Bull Racing worst affected. The defending champions completed just 21 laps over the four days of the test.
As the test drew to a close this evening, White admitted the situation was unacceptable.
“We have not run enough laps, and when we have they have not been run at an acceptable performance level,” he said. “The underlying causes are not straightforward: there isn’t a single component or system that has caused particular trouble. A number of related things have been troublesome, principally concerning the control and operation of the various sub-systems of the power unit within the car.
“For example on the first run day, we had problems with a sub-system within the energy store that did not directly concern either the battery nor the operation of the battery – it is an electronic part that was in the same housing as the energy store.
“We subsequently had problems with turbocharger and boost control systems with knock-on effects on the associated engine management systems, subsequently provoking mechanical failure.”
Renault and its partner teams explored a number of fixes during the week, as White outlined.
“Between days one and two, with the help of Red Bull, we implemented a later level of hardware for the rest of the test to address the problem within the energy store. This ran for the remaining days,” he explained. “In parallel to running in Jerez, the team at Viry has run dyno test programs to investigate the trackside problems and to propose solutions.
“We identified the probable root cause of our main turbo control issues, implemented some workarounds that were first seen at the end of day three and deployed in the three cars for day four. This established a very minimalist baseline from which we could build.”
White insists, however, that solutions should be in place for the next test in Bahrain starting on 19 February.
“We are a long way from the type of operation we had planned and prepared for – largely as a result of the workarounds we have implemented – but all the information [we have gathered] is useful,” he said. “In dealing with the issues we have moved further away from the configuration we were comfortable with, which has resulted in the relatively slow times, but the running has given us a vastly greater understanding of the issues we face. We absolutely expect to have a more definitive solution in place for the next session in Bahrain.”
If problems do reoccur in Bahrain, Renault and its teams could face serious problems, with final engines needing to be homologated at the end of next month. White, though, says this will not be an issue.
“The homologation deadline is the end of February and is fundamental to regulations,” he said. “Beyond that time, changes are permitted only with prior approval from the FIA. Change is not forbidden, but subject to the sporting regulations and we should not get so hung up on this date.
“It is unacceptable that we have not been able to mitigate the problems sufficiently to allow our partners to run at any length. We are working hard to correct this in time for Bahrain and aim to make amends there.”