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Renault brands failures ‘unacceptable’ but expects ‘definitive solution’ in Bahrain
Posted By: Justin Hynes  |  31 Jan 2014   |  8:32 pm GMT  |  292 comments

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.”

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We’ve had such strong reliability for a number of years, we’ve all forgotten how half the field used to break down at the start of the season. Personally, I’m not unhappy about the prospect of it returning 🙂


Its that they did not know that should worry them the most. What else about the design and therefore running of their unit do they not know? How far does the rot extend?

They to not just fix the problems, but also fix HOW the problems got there.


Again a reply within a thread that gets posted at the bottom as a new post…


Let’s face it, some of those threads can be a bit slippery so it’s not surprising that the odd comment falls down.


So from 4 customers teams, with Red Bull as their official works team, they had no realistic and workable understanding of how their engines would be mounted and function in an actual F1 car! Really…?

If it was one or two teams with problems on one or two days, one could say ‘yes that’s the expected teething problems’ like Merc had with McLaren had on day one. But this was not the case, this was 4 teams with problems in all 4 cars on all 4 days of the test. Renault were simply not prepared to run their power units in an actual car and they had no clue that that was the case.

I am sure they will fix it and become competitive, but I think some changes need to be made in their operational structure because someone is dropping the ball and neither they, nor those around them can see what they are dropping.


James why does the system sometimes not post replies in the conversation threads but instead post them as separate posts here at the bottom? There is an error happening and worst of all I now can’t post the replies where they are supposed to be at all as the system rejects them as being duplicates…


Not sure.The same happened to me yesterday. There is a spambot issue hitting WP sites at the moment.

We’re looking at it


Thanks James. The abiltiy to edit and delete comments pending moderator approval would be very helpful indeed. I don’t know is the WP guys are open to suggestions like that or not…


I think the FIA has created a monster here – the first major issue will be whether or not the GP of Australia even goes ahead – totally on the opposite side of the planet from the shops. Even if the race goes ahead the attrition will be enormous. You can’t produce a gong show of this magnitude under the spotlight of a world audience.


An ex F1 mechanic friend of mine, who worked (a long way) under Newey, said that he packaged everything so tightly, that they always had huge thermal issues with his cars. An example quoted, was they had to change the material they wrapped the loom in, as the heat was getting through and causing electrical failures. Have you heard this in the pit lane James?

I guess it’s the same as drives, the ones on the edge are more likely to crash, but once they hit the sweet spot, they unbeatable. Newey doesn’t consider conservatism 🙂


Yes of course; It’s well known.


James. About your headline.

Rob White actually said he would come up with a ‘more definitive’ solution for Bahrain.

Now of course, something is either definitive or it isn’t, wouldn’t you agree?

From the tone of his release, I don’t think his expectations are that high.


Having an engine that doesn’t work is different from having a car that is far off the pace. Even as a Red Bull Racing fan, I don’t mind if the car is off the pace, Vettel will make up whatever differences his rivals did in the past. His ability to qualify, start, and race well and consistently will ensure he’s always up there. If Alonso is not known as Mr. Saturday and Hamilton is not known as Mr. Consistent, Vettel will shine through the “interesting times coming for Sebastian” as Alonso put it.


Well you will mind if hes running outside the top 8 and if the car is 1 sec off the pace thats where anyone will end up – regardless of how good you drive. Seb is a great driver that can find a few tenths with a near limitless grip rear end -he is yet to prove anything in a car with relatively less downforce and rear end grip.


2007,2008 & 2010 anything else.. So what


Yes, it would be quite a different experience going to a race and not seeing him on the podium let alone close to it. I understand you like most people need to see him do something special in an inferior car AFTER he won his titles.

Even as a Vettel fan in 2010 I was actually screaming at Red Bull for not using team orders to let Mark past Seb. I really thought Seb was done and Mark was the best hope. Then Seb went and won the title. To me, if he could do that and his driving wasn’t even up to the standard of Alonso’s that year and he was that young, he can do anything.


Did you watch F1 in 2007 and 2008?


“he is yet to prove anything in a car with relatively less downforce and rear end grip.”

Is it that people started watching F1 in 2010 as EBD started then or what?

As the Toro Rosso did not have EBD and he performed well, so I really don’t understand your point.


Time and time again when I read these threads I’m amazed at how quickly, and on such flimsy evidence, people jump to conclusions and/or write drivers and manufacturers off.

They say a week is a long time in politics but I reckon it’s an even longer time in F1.


Speaking for myself, I am not writing off anyone’s chances. I am merely enjoying the misfortunes of a team I do not support, while it lasts 😎


If Redbull end up winning the first race, there will be so many tears.


If Red Bull win at Melbourne, they can re name themselves Lazarus………


And Williams 🙂


As can McLaren 😉


Every one criticised Alonso for saying “you can only judge Vettel when he has a similar car to the rest, then his four titles will be bad news”. This season will be either the making or breaking of Vettel. This is similar to Senna in 93, dog of a car after years of dominance and he won races to become one of the greatest of all time. I feel we will soon have the answer is he lucky or one of the greats?


The McLaren was a long, long way from being a “dog of a car” in 1993. It was the “best of the rest” after Williams.


We already know the answer. He had the best car and he is a good driver. No, he is not the GOAT.


Haven’t Red Bull/ Renault always suffered with problems in the past with KERS and other electronic faults compared to other teams?


Only Webber….


Actually I can remember when it happened to Vettel, Valencia 2012, Monza 2012, Germany 2013 and Japan qualifying immediately spring to mind.


It’s so in French style. Most expensive but not the best.


If I recall back in the 80’s when turbos were first introduced, Renault had major issues for the first season but they soon got over it, albeit at the end of that season. I am sure Renault will get ontop of it alot faster this time round.

On another vein I am so looking forward to seeing Williams at the sharp end of the pack this season. Always good to see the underdog persevere and gain ground.


Clearly not a good start for Renault – and while they and Red Bull are sorting things out the others will be developing their cars. But we shouldn’t forget that Renault have won the World Constructors Championship 12 times in the past 18 championships they’ve contested (1992-97, 2005-06, 2010-13 having not contested the championship in 1998-2001). They’ve got pedigree! And I say this as a McLaren fan….


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So, what have we learnt after four days? Well, if your car is painted silver powered by a Merc V6 you’re going literally in the right direction and a constant direction too apart from Lewis early front axle/brake/suspension problem which was easy to rectify. The Italian stallions are running well, reliable, unspectacular so far, but solid. Frank with Merc V6 and the leading blokes of Vatty, Phil, Big Rob (joining in March) and Pat Symonds can do some good business this year. Frank joining up with Brixworth lads and lasses was a potentially very shrewd call. As for Toro and Bulls……….oh dear, oh dear. Not so much charging bulls as knackered old cows. Well down to Daniel for doing an impression of an old kettle as well! I beat Adrian today (1 Feb) has called an extraordinary general meeting with both Milton Keynes and Paris for as soon as possible…………..


Its kinda of astonishing that people have already written off a 4 time wc winning team and engine manufacturer after just a few days of winter testing. Sure this news from Renault is quite shocking given the amount time/ money theyve invested.. Its not inconceivable that they find the solution by Bahrain or at worst Melb.

Im sure that collaboratively these problems can be resolved & we know how well Red Bull can recover. Sure this might not end up being their year ( we can only hope) but there is only one way for them and the ither Renault powered teams from here !- Im encouraged at least many teams Williams an especially Marussia have a fighting chance in the mid pack or possibly better.


We don’t like one team dominance, and this year it seems the elements have changed to give use a far more interesting year. Who knows who going to come out on top, but I sort of feel it will be a Mercedes powered car.


Nobody’s written RB off….we are just rejoicing today. They might still win…but today is a good day and so why not to be happy?


Im happy but I wont rejoice before the season starts and Seb is regularly in top 3 again !


This is great news (reddull having difficulties)! Maybe we will at last have the chance to see how VET fares with a car that, for whatever reason, is 2-4th fastest throughout the season rather than up to one second ahead.

Statistics (2010-13) are available for how ALO performed in exactly that situation. Will the four titles prove to be a blessing or a nightmare – was it really VET or 90% the car that did beat the opposition? Exciting seasons ahead for mr VET.

I see quite a few are already assuming RB have already lost, which proves nothing but that people in general cannot count beyond 3. They only remember the most recent events. What happened before that, is somehow “gone”/not valid anymore. Take a look at statistics for what RB have achieved last four years…or their budget…or the names (still) working for them. Way too early days to draw any conclusions how any team will perform.


I assume you just started watching F1 in 2010, because the information you say you seek is readily available.

When Alonso had a car which qualified 9th on average, in 2009, he looked …. pretty unimpressive.

When Vettel had a car which qualified 11th on average, in 2008, he looked quite good.


Non-sense!! Sebastian Vettel has not won anything in his Formula 1 career starting from below 3rd place on the grid! And that too even with the fastest car last year. Can you say that for Alonso? Well nope… Can you say that for any other World champion on the grid… well nope.. everyone else including Jenson Button (whom is rated the least among champions) has won at the very least 1 grand prix starting from below 3rd on the grid! Yeah he is a 4 time WDC and he has broken a lot of records. This fact is one of the most ignored by everybody! The boy just revels in a fast car that has downforce by exhaust blowing!! the boy is fast and has talent! Nobody can deny that. Let him win in a car that is qualified 4th on the Grid at least.. AT THE VERY LEAST!! Then we’ll call him impressive.


I have been around long enough to at least have seen ALO beat RAI and SCH to titles when VET was still driving cars at “kinder garden”, so do not worry about that detail.

“When Alonso had a car which qualified 9th on average, in 2009, he looked …. pretty unimpressive.”

The 2009 Renault finished as 9th constructor. It was not only slow, but also unreliable as ALO had 9 DNFs out of 17 races that year – yet he finished 9th overall out of 20 drivers. I would not call that unimpressive.

“When Vettel had a car which qualified 11th on average, in 2008, he looked quite good.”

The ToroRosso was 6th in the constructors in 2008, compared to Renault being 9th in 2009. VET finished 8th overall. Yea, very impressive…

Anyways, if you believe VET has it, you should not have any reason to worry if his package proves consistently slower than the fastest…time will tell.


Vettel has never been as impressive looking or perhaps exciting is the correct phrase as Hamilton in those first two years. It maybe that Vettel has now had his run, his roll of the dice, because that’s what it is in F1. It’s about when all the elements conspire to let you win as Vettel and Schumacher before, both undoubtably great drivers, but the earth has moved conspiratorally to change what elements will give victory. This year I think we have, I’m relieved to say a good almighty battle on out hands, and who actually knows where the teams are. – I think McLaren are looking handy, but that might simply be that Mercedes have not yet turned the wick up. It would also be good to see Williams in the top five. – They certainly did themselves a favour choosing the Merc power unit.


Most of the issues have to be with the tight packaging Adrian kinda demands.

To an extent it is sad seeing a Torro Rosso or a Redbull going out and braking down immediately.

To an extent I am a little glad, because when I have said before that RB is spoiling this sport with their aero innovations, tight ass cars channeling farting gasses, a lot of people labeled me old fashioned. Well Formula 1 is a “motor”sport!

Finally when the sport comes back to senses and mix in a lot of changes with the “Motor” part we see this from RedBull. Yes the Renault power unit has to be blamed, but it goes beyond that. They are having more problems than the rest of the Renault Customers.

And something which angers me more is Christian Horner now talking about the costs. Saying the new engines came at the wrong time! And he “Feels” for the customer teams now! Suddenly as if the world is gonna end!

Even so, I am sure we can’t write them off. Whatever I say always comes and bites me at the back all the time 😛

They’ve been given a chance to bounce back, if they can’t well it proves my point. They can only win with Fart Gasses!

I am not a Redbull hater. It was sad for me also seeing their nightmare test. I did not have any problems about Redbull winning all the time. The problem is with the arrogance that comes along after the winning that deserves a BOOO!!


It looks troubling but I am not passing any judgement until Bahrain. If similar reliability (or big lap time differences) are present again there then the Renault teams might as well be written off as 9/10/11th in WCC.

I’m hoping Massa and Bottas can grab some podiums in the Williams!


I think Frank could be in for a resurrection of sorts this year with that Merc V6, so yes, Frank drivers could be spraying some Mumm….

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