How much will Red Bull lose with engine loophole closed?
Posted By: James Allen  |  27 Jul 2012   |  3:49 pm GMT  |  38 comments

Red Bull believes that its competitiveness will not be harmed by the FIA’s clarification on engine mapping rules, which closes the grey are that the Milton Keynes team was using in Germany.

Both the FIA technical staff and rival teams believed that Red Bull had an advantage both in traction and aerodynamics in Germany from an engine map which changed the amount of torque the engine produced at medium revs.

Although FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer flagged up his findings as a contravention of the rules, the stewards let Red Bull race on Sunday, but following meetings this week a clarification has been made, which is in force this weekend in Budapest.

It says: “Above 6,000rpm, the maximum engine torque may vary by no more than +/- 2% (from the reference map). And the ignition angle may vary by no more than 2.5%.”

We will find out tomorrow and Sunday how much this hurts them; if it wasn’t worth anything they would not have gone to the trouble of developing the ruse, along with engine partner Renault.

It certainly will have helped in the rain during qualifying with drivability but the aero gain is hard to judge.

World champion Sebastian Vettel, who also got a knock back after the Germany race when he was penalised for passing Jenson Button off the race track has said that he doesn’t think it will harm Red Bull’s competitiveness. “It’s not as if the car doesn’t work any more,” he said. “I’m quite confident nothing will change. There is probably more fuss outside the car than the difference is inside,” he said. “It is a little bit different for here. It is hard to give you, I don’t know, 0.2secs, 0.05secs, nothing. We can’t measure either.”

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Keith Gerrard I met Gary Anderson at Jordans in the early 90s to talk about auto gearboxes (the FIA closed development of this). Can you ask him if he thinks the torque curve difference on the Red Bull engines was because of the Helmholtz resonator Adria…n recently fitted? Was this to reduce back pressure by tuning the exhaust pulses, therebye letting more mass gasflow through valve overlap? The result would be a better control over mid range torque and more gas flow over the diffuser. I used this idea in 1978 on a saloon car. A change to the engine management would of course also be needed but would not be the main cause. The checks on the manual ride height adjustment by the FIA may be because I recently re-stated my belief that Red Bull have used an hydraulic ride height valve system in their suspension geometry from the first Newey cars including this year. This was an adaption of a Gordan Murray idea used on his high downforce designs in the early days of df development. The system pumped down the ride heigh when the car moves and it bled back raising the car in the paddock. If I am right they have used this for a number of years. The twin chassis car at Lotus was much better of course but both ideas were banned at the time. Seems that if you have fizzy drink money today you can use any ideas.


It’s well documented that RB have historically been the best at utilizing blown diffusers however I’m keen to know more about the traction control element of the engine map RB were running. Was there more to it than just a non-linear relationship between throttle and torque? Were there sensors involved and if so how did they work around the standardized ECU?


Go to the BBC F1 website. Gary Anderson does a great job of explaining it in detail.


I wonder why everybody has to pick an engine map from the first four races. What happened after that? When did they really start cheating?


If it provided any significant help, why were they so slow in last week’s race (Vettel only had the 8th fastest lap, and Webber struggled all race)? Could they have been holding something back in an attempt to show that it doesn’t provide much help, to stop it being outlawed?


Lap times don’t mean anything in 2012. A Caterham can have the faster lap time of a race if they decide pit late. With low fuel and fresh option tires, they can set the fastest lap time.

Michael did exactly that in the German Grand Prix and that’s why he posted the fastest lap time of the race. Today Mercedes admitted that they are .5 second slower than the leading teams.


James, what did your ‘one of the rival engineer’ say or talk about this?

just kidding. did you get a chance to talk to other engineers who are close to you about this?

what do they say?


This may be off the subject, but I have to say that I’m starting to lose respect for Sebastian Vettel. He has got to be the worst loser of all the drivers. Whenever he doesn’t win or qualify on pole, he has the worst demeanor in the paddock.

There are only 24 formula drivers in the world. He should have the utmost respect for his fellow drivers, but when he doesn’t win, he’s quick to call them all kind of degrading names. He called Katikanan a cucumber and just last weekend he called Lewis Hamilton stupid.

If it’s not the drivers that he’s insulting, then it’s the FIA or the stewards at the races. In Valencia when the safety car was deployed because of debris on the track, he blame them for trying to lose him the race. Even though later Renault came out and said that it might have happened sooner if the safety was not deployed.

Instead of apologizing to Lewis Hamilton for calling him stupid or his action stupid, he blamed the media for twisting his wor d. He said that the pass by Hamilton was UNNECESSARY, but the entire journalists, who were there with microphones, heard STUPID. Wow! What B.S.


Well if Vettel says they haven’t lost performance (like he did after Canada) plus today after practice Lewis was of the view Red Bull will be very quick come qualifying (despite Vettel finishing 8th), then I think this engine mapping controversy is more hype/fuss than anything else.

I mean if Red Bull were really gaining a huge amount of advantage then their Germany qualifying times would have been erased and they would have been placed at the back of the grid

Not saying their engine mapping was worth nothing, it was solely built to help them in the rain after they realized their pace on a wet track wasn’t that strong after what happened in Malaysia.

Anyway, glad to have equally matched top cars again, this is what F1 should really be about.


I want to see the resurgent Mclarens (both Lewis and Jenson) ahead of those red bulls and wipe out any chance of RBR holding on to either of the championships.


I remember a couple of years ago, where Toro Roso used to be a lot better than Red Bull; Vettel, after winning in Monza with Toro Roso, he was ridiculed by many for switching to Red Bull. Well, the guys at Red Bull knew exactly what was in their possession — Blown Diffuser — around which the Red Bull cars are built. Their stubborn focus on this particular technology tells us the Red Bull car is mediocre without it.


Judging by Christian Horners reaction at Hockenheim, it certainly had, as one would expect, more of an effect than they are letting on.

I like the inginuity in F1 of trying to explore the ‘limits’ of the regulations, but Red Bull are the most unconvincing team when it comes to explaining/defending something on their car. They just aren’t believable.


I am ( and I guess many others ) are growing tired of this team pushing the limits of legality every race. The worst thing is they are allowed to keep these points and on top of that they have the nerve to complain and bring up conspiracy theory.



Judging from the times in FP1 and FP2 for the Hungarian Grand Prix, I would say that it’s having a major negative impact of the proformance of the Red Bulls. Both Vettel and Webber were outside of the top ten in both sessions.

The 16 turn circuit of the Hungaroring is made up of low and medium turns. It is basicly Monaco without the glitz and glamour. The illegal torgue map of the Red Bull Renault engine would have been perfectly suited for this circuit.

Vettel saying that he doesn’t think that the FIA closing of the engine loophole will harm the Red Bull’s competitiveness is only expect. Do we really expect him to say anything else? Allen, you’re exactly correct when ou said “if it wasn’t worth anything, they would not have gone through the trouble of developing it”.

I don’t expect Red Bull to be competitive again for another 3 or 4 races because while Red Bull was wasting time developing this ill torgue map for the Renault engine, their main rivals, Ferrari and Mclaren, were busy developing their cars legally.

A key note: If anyone thinks that Red Bull didn’t know that what they were doing was cheating or at least extremely bending the rules, every team always consults with Charley Whiting about they are thinking about doing before spending the money and time developing it.

It happened with McLaren’s F-Duct, it happened with Brawn’s Double Defusser, and it also happened early this season with Lotus suspension system even though after other teams protected the system, it was deemed illegal.

This time, Red Bull did NOT consulted with the FIA and Charley Whiting.


“Vettel saying that he doesn’t think that the FIA closing of the engine loophole will harm the Red Bull’s competitiveness is only expect. Do we really expect him to say anything else?”

When Lauda “told” Vettel, on the podium in German GP, that Button had been on the radio complaining about the overtake. Vettel sounded surprised and responded with something along “Jenson has not told ME anything regarding that…”. On the BBC highlights you could however clearly hear Button telling Vettel BEFORE going to the podium something along “You know you are going to be investigated for that overtake don’t you” and was getting Vettels explanation for it…

No, I would not give much credit to Vettels response regarding the engine map.


Yep Vettel was playing dumb.. But he knew what he did make no mistake.


I heard both comments that you mention and Vettel’s response to Lauda was actually to say that Button had not complained to him (Seb) about the manoeuvre. Your implication of dishonesty is unwarranted – Vettel’s statement to Lauda was factually correct.


What do you mean Vettel’s statement is incorrect? It was heard in no uncertain terms that Button was complaining to Vettel on the way to the podium. When Vettel tried to defend what he did, Button just said “well, you’re going to be investigated by the Stewards”.

This was heard on the live broadcast just minutes before he told Lauda that Button hadn’t complained to him about it!

Tom in adelaide

He does seem to make a lot of conflicting comments doesn’t he. Still, it’s good to hav a villain in F1 and i personally choose Princess Pettel.


I’ve got a feeling that there is quite a lot of bluster coming from Red Bull on this. I think we might see a MUCH less competitive car this weekend. As JA rightly says, were it not useful they wouldn’t have bothered developing it, combined with the fact that in F1 the margins are such that a fraction of a second per lap equates to a pretty mean distance on the track, if they have lost a quarter of a second, that is virtually a pitstop. Now, if they have lost that in comparison to Ferrari or Mclaren, it could put them back in the midfield, and as Webber demonstrated last week, that is not where that car likes to be…


My mate who works at Red Bull says the response has been a bit glum this week.


Absolutely cricket. Adrian Newey’s hero must have been Colin Chapman or Gorden Murray, 2 brilliant talents with questional ethics when it came to designs…


Interesting that you mention Colin Chapman and questionable ethics. I personally think the man was a genius and I love the way he would throw his cap in the air when one of his cars won. He is an F1 Legend.

However, I was doing some reading on the history of Delorian and read that Chapman’s company Lotus had the contract to build the chassis for this car. Long story short, a large amount of British government funds intended for the project’s factory went missing, CC died before the embezzlement was brought to light and the Lotus accountant was charged. The presiding judge claimed that Chapman would have been sentenced to at least 10 years had he been on trial.

Just some interesting trivia I thought I would share. 🙂


Nice! And thank you too!


“…How much will Red Bull lose with engine loophole closed?…”

I´m hoping for 1 second and half. 😀


That’d probably bring them to TR / Caterham level LOL


Jo Bauer should be asked to spend time with each of Mercedes, McLaren and [esp] Ferrari, to ensure compliance of these teams too.



James what is the concensus in the pit lane regarding Seb’s going off the track to overtake Lewis, and his subsequent penalty? Vettel seems to be quite unfair with his protests about it, whining that he should have been advised (by his team, or by FIA) if it was ‘illegal’ and should have given the advantage back to Lewis, yet surely he of all people should know that rule?!

Speed TV channel showed a specific written letter to Lewis from a couple of years ago where HE was penalized for a very similar move, making it clear you’re not allowed to go off track and gain an advantage, so all drivers should be aware, and I can’t understand those who say Vettel’s move was legitimate.


The reason I think this incident is kind of a little bit of a grey area is that the pass was not a blatant corner-cut up the inside.

Vettel essentially had to cover a greater distance than Button through the turn and exit over a less than grippy surface (sandy grass). Although technically an illegal move, it wasn’t a deliberate underhanded cheat. Vettel was definitely quicker than Button.

Having said that, rules are rules as you’ve said, so I think the correct decision was made. However, this ruling should have been made prior to the podium presentations; the stewards had plenty of time to quickly view the footage, have a five minute discussion, then announce the decision. I personally was very annoyed that the results were changed afterwards.


Sorry of course I meant Button not Lewis regarding the off-track overtake!


Hey James what do you think, is everything as they say it is or they going to feel the pinch. Personaly I think they going to feel a bit of slowdown, on the other hand in regards car being of track what rules are for cars leaving the track during the race say like in Abu Dhabi on where they leave the track and actualy gain time same last week in Germany so why isnt FIA punishing the drivers or why not reintroduce the sand gravel (in my opinion if you are off the track you should stay off the track, brings the memory of Shumi being stuck with half of his car but unable to continue)otherwise its going to become the norm.


They’ve probably made up the deficit by another ‘contravention’ which will be unearthed and banned next week. If they have n’t, watch Webber out-qualify and out–score the world champion.


Yet to be seen. In Silverstone they did not use it and they were very fast. In Germany they used it and they were fast again. In Valencia they were astonishingly fast and they did not use it.

I think McLaren and Red Bull are evenly matched and Ferrari is slightly behind (0.1 or 0.3)…depending on conditions.

If we are not going to have a lot of rain in coming races, it will not be easy for Alonso to win the title.


How do you know they did not use it in Valencia and Silverstone?

Where did you get this info?

I thought that Jo Bauer compared the data in Germany with data from previous races and noticed the difference.


This is exactly what he said….in germany it was different than before


I’m sorry, but I’m not taking the word of Vettel, Webber, Adrian Newey, or anyone else from Red Bull Racing.

I will taking the words from the FIA and Jo Bauer because they have the data.

Once again, why spend money and time developing a system on the cars and not use it in every, single race?


AlexD, do you work for Red Bull? How do you know when they started using the illegal torque map? Why spend the money and time developing a system and not use it at every race?

It was reported as early as the 4th or 5th race of the season that the Red Bulls started sounding a lot different during the corners. The teams didn’t complain about it because the Red Bulls were not that competitive.

Typical Adrian Newey. Give him an inch and he will take a mile.

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