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Why Red Bull and Renault are getting closer
Red Bull Racing
Posted By: James Allen  |  14 Sep 2011   |  3:43 pm GMT  |  101 comments

The decision of reigning F1 champions Red Bull and Renault to extend their deal with for a supply of customer engines for five more years was announced over the Monza weekend, before Sebastian Vettel went out and won a second race in a row on what’s always been considered a “power circuit”.

This deal is significant in that it means that not only will the team use the current V8 units with the Renault KERS system for 2012 and 2013, but is committed to the marque for the new generation of fuel efficient V6 1.6 litre turbo engines from 2014 onwards. Part of the deal is a technology collaboration between Red Bull Technology and Renault to work on innovations for the 2014 engine. These will benefit all Renault customers, which will also include Williams.

Despite occasional grumbles from Red Bull senior management about a lack of power over the last five seasons, the partnership with Renault has been very successful with both world titles last season seven victories and no engine failures in a 100% faultless record this season which is likely to lead to another clean sweep of titles.

With the Renault deal has come a technical and sponsor partnership with oil company Total. In addition to getting money from the deal, Renault also has branding on the drivers’ helmets and on the engine cover of the car. This reflects the company’s strategy for F1 to be a profit centre, rather than a cost. The Renault team, currently known as Lotus Renault GP, is owned by investment firm Genii and sponsored by Group Lotus. Renault’s only involvement is to supply engines, as it does to Red Bull. But there seems to be some activity around this team in terms of its ownership and branding moving forwards. The way is clear for it to rebrand as Lotus, if the two sides feel that this is appropriate.

Meanwhile Renault number two Carlos Tavares was asked recently by French colleagues about the possibility of Renault coming back as a team owner and he said, “Having an F1 team as a manufacturer is a double edged sword. You have to win. And if you do not win, it’s serious. The solution of being an engine supplier makes sense and is clearly more long term for a manufacturer.”

It’s clear that Renault Sport, the division of the company which runs the F1 engine programme, regards Red Bull as their number one team now, almost a works team and Christian Horner alluded to this when the announcement was made.

This is emphasised by statements from Renault about how they see the importance of the integration of the engine and the chassis aerodynamics, especially post 2014. They also couch their communications in terms of “They are world champions and we are world champions.” The evolution of the blown diffuser and Renault’s work on ignition timing to improve it are a good example of the close integration of the two sides.

There is also the Nissan/Infiniti connection, with Infiniti branding on the car and the likelihood that Red Bull will be able to benefit from Nissan/Renault battery technology in the post 2014 era, when electric becomes a more important part of the package than currently.

On a side note, young French driver Jean Eric Vergne is going to be doing some Friday driving for Toro Rosso shortly. But when it comes to the Young Guns test at Abu Dhabi, there seems to be a view that he might be given a run in the Red Bull car, as Daniel Ricciardo did last year.

This would make sense in terms of a benchmark. And as Ricciardo is now racing for HRT, he is ineligible for the Young Guns test, so they may as well turn to Vergne next.

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It is nice to know about the Renault team as they are champions in the F1 car race. I like Sebastian Vettel and I think he is a good driver for Renault. Anyway, thank you for sharing this information with everyone and keep sharing some new information like this one in future.


I’ve always wanted to know, what is a “works team”?


Factory supported, ie not paying for engines and the factory’s number 1 team


Ahh I was thinking it was something along those lines, thanks for clearing it up JA


Vergne rocks!!!!!!!!


To me RBS are gambling. I can see kind of risk taken by them that may be rewarded by soome business calculations uknown by now..


It is good news for teams going for Renault engines but for most of them their achilles’ heel has been not the engine, but aero.


The comparison between Benetton and Red Bull is an especially valid one. Renault Engines in a dominant Benetton championship winning car ended up as RenaultGP. They’ve come in and out of the sport before and they could do it again. I personally think that no other manufacturer has been cannier in winning championships, be it through engines or with an actual team, they are always there and are always talked/raved about.


If Renault severed ties with the Genii-run Renault team and started building a closer relationship with Red Bull, perhaps we could see Robert Kubica alongside Sebastian Vettel in 2013. I don’t think it’s as crazy as it sounds – if I were Kubica, I would be no hurry to get back into Formula 1. It would be the ultimate goal, but not something that has to be done straight away; I can see Kubica spending 2012 racing in Formula Renault 3.5 to get his competitive edge back. Meanwhile, Renault form tighter links with Red Bull and when there’s no immediately-apparent candidate to replace Webber (I think Alguersuari, Buemi and Ricciardo are all lacking the X-factor needed for a World Championship team), Dietrich Mateschitz gets a call from the Powers That Be at Renault who point out that Robert Kubica has fully recovered and has just had an excellent season in Formula Renault, and that they hear there is a vacancy at Red Bull, and maybe we could put two and two together …


Robert will hard to recover his race craft to the same level he use to have. but if he can do, this will be a big plot for advertise the Red bull. I am not sure someone at red bull see in this way or not.


James – any idea on what it costs a manufacturer to run an engine operation compared to a full team? I realise some engines would be subsidised (or free?) whilst others would be on a customer basis.

Personally I think Renault wanted to distance themselves from the day-to-day decisions of running a team which unfortunately resulted in the Singapore crash-gate. By being an engine manufacturer they can pass the blame onto the team.


At the moment with engine freeze, not as much as in the past, but gearing up for 2014, costs will increase and this will be passed on to customers.

Bevelling machine

It was the RBR team.


Renault KERS system eh? where have then been hiding that? I am sure that Red Bull would have liked to have had a decent KERS.

Interesting too that if the engine and chassis aero is to be developed together, then this rather creates a favourite customer, or one with whom a closer design relationship is essential. Unless of course Renault have enough parallel people to develop 4 different programs with Chinese walls between. (this is normal practice in engineering design companies)

So Renault will become a design partner rather than just an engine supplier.

Do engine suppliers count in the RRA?


I don’t know why manufacturers feel they have to win. Toyota, BMW and Honda never won anything, and it didn’t make me think any less of them at the time.

What made me think of less of them was when they abruptly pulled out of the sport and left hundreds of people without jobs.


A bit off- topic,

-if it’s correct there was an information that SV advised stewards to closely consider circumstances regarding his overtaking maneuver vs FA at Curva Grande, when he was forced out of track at over 320 km/h. After the race FA excused but evidently it was not enough.

James, any feedback?


I’ve been saying for the past 5 years that the most cost effective, efficent and most productive way for any manufacturer to be involved with F1 is to ONLY supply engines. If their engines win the manufacturer can use that in their marketing, if their engines don’t win, keep quiet, nobody blames the engines!

Manufacturers know how to make engines, race teams know how to go racing.


Renault have missed a trick by somehow letting Infiniti get the most visible branding on the Red Bull car. One assumes if they wanted that deal could be revisited, but it seems odd that they should regard Red Bull as a ‘works’ team while letting one of their smallest brands get the visible exposure.

At the same time, the emotional appeal of the Williams Renault name, plus the heritage of their collaboration in the Clio Williams means that it will be difficult to resist regarding that relationship as a significant one, even if Williams continue to struggle.

Renault will have to be very careful here to avoid getting into a bit of a pickle again, just as the Renault/Genii/Lotus mess seems to be getting tidied up.


I always thought, perhaps unfairly, that the Renault engine was the weakest link in Red Bulls armour. Primarily because they need to match RBs investment and commitment in order to keep their cars at the front.

I now wonder how much of these long term plans are linked to Horner and Newey maintaining this winning combination? Dietrich isn’t known for his patience, is he? The money will continue to flow only as long as results are forthcoming.


okay, and where was the money flowwing from while the team was floundering in the midfield. Let’s admire Dietrich’s commitment to F1 and not look at it as if he’s looking to make a quick buck and then bail, true he’s maximizing on his Championship winning team at the moment but who wouldn’t, I’m a McLaren fan and McLaren last won titles years ago but they are still riding their past success like nobody’s business along with Ferrari. Give Credit where it’s due. Even before the championships, we had Torro Rosso, RedBull racing and arguably the strongest Driver development in F1… Thank You Mr D.Mateshitz. Your money was talking long before the championships rolled in, you deserve all the success and I reluctantly wish that you reap much more.


yeah JUST another DRINKS company afterall…


Haha, I see that my Red Bull to Renault speculation got some attention. Well, in all honesty it’s probably not very likely, but you never know. The Red Bull operation is expensive, and there will come a point where they will no longer dominate, the original targets of Mr Mateschitz have all been achieved and Bernie money won’t cover the costs. I already suspect that Red Bull, despite the handsome pay from winning the championship, are booking huge losses each year. It really depend on whether or not they can motivate this as a marketing expense. Does Red Bull Racing sell enough cans to cover their expenses?

All I’m saying is that Red Bull is a five year old team in F1, despite having been there as a sponsor for 20 years. Things CAN happen.

This would be a corporate decision based on number, although I sincerely hope that this is not the case. Red Bull is good for the mix – but team Horner / Newey are not Red Bull – and the price tag of the team for any wealthy taker must be temptingly high if Red Bull decide to pull out on the top of their game.



J. Barnard or A. Newey? Honda in the late 80’s, or Renault in the last few years?

(I’m sorry to exclude R. Brawn, and the late 90’s Ferrari, but I consider both of them product of J. Barnard)


If Magny-Cours is the planned venue, I certainly hope not.


No mention of Renault developing the blown exhaust solution? Sure they might have theoretically been down on power, but the blown exhaust was this years’ winning concept. Arguably it was being used last year too.


Very interesting comment “Having an F1 team as a manufacturer is a double edged sword. You have to win. And if you do not win, it’s serious.”

They must get their name off the Pseudo Lotus, or take the team back to keep their name…


any chance that this commitment from renault can help to resurrect the french grand prix?


Hasnt it already been agreed that Spa will alternate with Magny Cours? Or did I imagine that recently.

Still seems crazy to me that Spa could me a one in two years event. Its an absolute must have track in my view along with suzuka, monza, silverstone, monaco.

Would be great to see the French GP reinstated though. As its close 😉


I was listening to the Renault Sport F1 podcast (the French one – the English one is hosted by Ted Kravitz) in which Remi Taffin, Head of Track Operations I think, was saying that the two circuits they used to test reliability on the dyno are Spa and Monza.

With both of them being so unique, I am sure that there’s more than just us the fans/spectators who would miss those two key tracks. A lot of engineers would too!

As for the French Grand Prix, we would need a fairly strong driver rather than winning engines to lure people back to F1. Less fans also equal a bare bone TV coverage. I saw Monza 2010 on TF1 and just the race commentary is miles away from Martin and DC.


I think the talk is about Paul Ricard and not Magny Cours.


Unfortunately the “S” infront of Spar is just that .. an “S” and not a “$” sign. F1 is about making money and not racing.. If you happen to have a bit of racing in the process, then good for you!


One more thing…speaking of Red Bull, does the paddock and media miss the F1 Red Bulletin magazines that were printed each day of the weekend?


Yes and no.


Would you like to be any more mysterious Mr. Allen?!? 🙂


Paddock – yes

Media – no

I thought the Red Bulletin was still being published though. Isn’t Anthony Rowlinson the Editor?


Thanks for the article James. Very interesting. Looks like it is a win win situation for both Red Bull and Renault.

It is good news for teams going for Renault engines but for most of them their achilles’ heel has been not the engine, but aero.

This season has been a fantastic one and I am sure next year will be a cracking one.


How quickly will this view from Renault towards Red Bull change if Williams Renault starts becoming successful?


Quite quickly I think. There is very little loyalty in this sport, one of the most cut-throat performance-orientated there is. It is easy to see a new team who may become very successful putting more and more influence in the design and performance of their engine, making life harder for the has-been.


Is it is easy for tv viewers to see a car racing with Infinity and Renault logos on its bodywork ???

What is the viewer supposed to think 3 cylinders by Renault and 3 by Infinity !!!

It is the consequence of too much Commerce in this world and little innovation. There was a time when engineers were respected. If the Eiffel tower was built today, the name of M. Eiffel would’ve never been mentioned. In the USA, they would call it the Pepsi/Coca tower. In Europe by the name of the guy who put most money in it & in Africa by the name of the dictator or by the date at which he seized power.

The commercial aspect is so important, we end up with oddities such as a team named Renault sponsored by Lotus and owned by GENII which borrowed money from Renault bank to buy the team.

Why is that because Renault image has been damaged ?

Why because the chassis team cheated against Renault will ?

Why because the chassis team has nothing to do with Renault and is out of control of Renault. It’s a PR operation instead of a technical one. Actually Renault sells to the viewer a know how she doesn’t possess on the chassis side and so does Mercedes with Brawn and BMW with Sauber.

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