Renault ‘not back on schedule but headed in right direction,’ says White
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Posted By: Justin Hynes  |  22 Feb 2014   |  5:01 pm GMT  |  266 comments

Renault Sport F1’s Deputy Managing Director Rob White has said the power unit manufacturer has made progress this week but that the company is “not back on schedule”.

Speaking as the second pre-season test in Bahrain came to a close – a four-day spell in which Renault-powered teams continued to suffer – White admitted there had been more setbacks but insisted that progress has been made.

“We have had some setbacks, but we have definitely made progress and have taken several steps forward,” he said. “The changes have improved the PU behaviour in the car and we are have accumulated valuable mileage. There have been stoppages, on our side and on the chassis side as well, but we have ironed out some important faults and allowed the teams to gain crucial experience of the car as a whole.

“We have seen that minor incidents can cause downtime that is difficult or impossible to recover,” he added. “In particular, we lost more time than anticipated on the final day. While we are not at the level of operation and performance we would want to be, we have a more solid basis to work from, and we are moving in the right direction.”

He admitted, however, that Renault’s programme is not back on schedule.

“We have made some good headway, in terms of PU performance and operation in the car. We are now in a situation we could have accepted mid-Jerez. We have solved some problems and revealed some others,” he said.

“We are not back on schedule but we are moving in the right direction – the running we have done is very valuable. The challenge is to improve the rate of progress, because the gap to where we wanted to be at this stage remains substantial.

“We are some weeks behind where we wanted to be, and we acknowledge it will take time to unlock the full performance of the PU,” he added. “We are working hard to get there and we are determined to succeed. We remain confident in the PU and its sub systems, we are just not at the level of operation and performance we want to be. The immaturity of the PU combined with the time lost to incidents, means the chassis work to prepare for the season is also behind schedule. From this point on we must pursue and accelerate an upward curve.”

Commenting on the fixes implemented this week in Bahrain, White said: “We made a number of specification changes to the Energy Store (battery), involving modified hardware, requiring some gymnastics in engineering, procurement, assembly and logistics.

“We also introduced two levels of PU control system software updates; the first being effectively what would have been a decent starting point for Jerez. It eliminated some bugs that allowed us to make mapping and calibration corrections, which subsequently allowed us to operate the cars in a more robust way to gather mileage.

“The second layer of software changes had more functionality to allow a greater authority to the control systems, giving better performance and driveability, and a larger degree of Power Unit systems integration. All the cars started on the first route and all four cars migrated to the second solution as we gathered mileage.”

White concluded by saying that the team in Viry is working “night and day’ to cure the ailments afflicting its power unit, especially with the homologation deadline looming.

“We run again in Bahrain at the end of next week,” he said. “The homologation deadline is looming, the race engines for Melbourne are in the early stages of build. There is a huge amount of work in progress.

“The Viry team is working night and day to solve our problems. We now have a list of issues from this test we will address. There are of course priority calls to sort out the most important ones from the background noise, but we will come back stronger at the next test and continue to learn about the Power Unit and prepare for Melbourne.”

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1

Mr.Allen, will you think red bull can dominant this season because Renault have technical problem?

2

No

3

i read an article a few days ago re ‘lift & coast’ but it seemed to suggest that this would be at the expense of laptime?

4

To a limited degree, but the saving in fuel makes it a gain overall.

Pedro de la Rosa has been working on it for Ferrari in the simulator since last summer!!

5

the fuel metering unit must be the singular most important part on any car this season.

i presume that all cars must still provide the mandatory one litre for testing purposes at the race termination, therefore does this mean that available fuel is now 99litres/99kg?

saving fuel would only be an asset insofar as the final dash to the flag as the aim would be to only have the mandated one litre/one kg and nothing more…even down to ML’s.

last year i read an article in racecar engineering from the suppliers of the fuel flow metering inline units and they were struggling to be able to provide the degree of accuracy required by the teams. i presume that this has now been achieved as there has been no mention of it to date. then again, there is a paucity of actual engineering data being published.

i am still of the opinion that we are not going to see any all out racing owing to the fuel/tyre/engine combinations being so complex. i could of course be completely wrong. let’s hope so.

6

James, specifically to do with the fuel limit I was wondering if there was any information regarding which drivers are more fuel efficient than others? Least pedal overlap etc. I am sure the change in engines will influence this data as would poor aerodymnamics but it may point to who will struggle to race flat out in the first few races until their driving style adapts. Thanks for a great website, mail & tweets

7

They are working on that in simulators at the moment and at tests

There are techniques like lift and coast into corners which will make a significant difference

8

Hi.

Can’t help thinking that we’re all getting sucked in to Red bull being rubbish for this season…wouldn’t surprise me at all if they take pole in Melbourne and win more races than anyone else this season……you all seem to forget that testing is testing and we all had them down as 5th quickest car in winter testing 2 years ago…..then what happened…they have proved to be the team to beat and will not be easy to beat this year I’m sure.

9

i somehow feel that this a completely different scenario to what happened in the past. look across the field and you will see that it is simply not just red bull but all the renault engined teams that are disadvantaged.

i would expect that renault will eventually get their act together but when and at what cost, including the cost to their championship hopes?

in the absence of details regarding the actual problems it would appear that it will not be easy for renault to correct in time for melbourne. i would also just remind you of the ‘homologation’ issue. this issue alone would be cause for max ‘angst’ amongst the renault engined teams. without a substantial fix those teams could be hampered, not just at the start but for the entire season!

yes, there are so many ‘ifs’ and i am anxiously awaiting a positive outcome prior to the season start but i am not holding my breath that there will be one.

10

She is there on merit and sure she would perform better than Max Chilton who is only there on money and never ever going to be anywhere near good enough but no one says anything as he is another good old boy…like Jenson…give her a break, I was lucky enough to see her at testing last year and she was outstanding.

11

No its not right teams can use success as a sort of randsom to stay in F1, Mercedes would be nowhere in F1 if it wasn’t for the partnership forged with Mclaren and buying Ilmor’s engine company at Brixworth, and then trying to buy success by purchasing Brawn and use Ross’s knowledge and skills, in fact the whole operation has nothing to do with a in house Mercedes or AMG operation from scratch like BMW did with their engines or Toyota did with a brand new project by building the factory at Cologne, in fact looking at Mercedes early efforts like their engine for Sauber in the early 90’s they were diabolical, I think sooner and later their wheels will fall off even if they win both championships this year, we need more real F1 teams like Williams and Mclaren letting the Manufacturers the manopoly will damage the sport, indipendent engine manufacturers like Hart and Mechacrone is needed back in F1, but still I wouldn’t mind Jenson picking up a second championship just a shame the Mclaren is slower than Mercedes.

12

@tealeaf….ferrari are a manufacturer are they not? in your opinion then ferrari are not a proper F1 team?

13

Mercedes designed their powertrain and their car! Doesn’t that add up to a proper F1 team that can do everything not just half the job. Ross Brawn helped put the technical structure in place, and has helped the team move forward just like any other capable team principle.

14

I guess it’s right that you should allow Rob White space on your website to put over his position, but I’m not sure why he should be allowed to do so without any editorial comment, let alone ‘how come?’ type questions. The bottom line is that this is a man who must be in severe danger of losing his job, putting out a lot of spin and PR-speak to try to minimise the problems. It is not designed to be informative.

As far as we are concerned, what we would like to know is:

a. why is the engine so unreliable even when it is running so far down on power?

b. is it capable of running at the same power as the Mercedes and Ferrari engines if the reliability issues are resolved?

c. or is it just down on power anyway, so will be uncompetitive for the whole of 2014, even if they are allowed to fix the reliability issues after 1 March?

d. also RB and Lotus fans would like some explanation from him as to how this sorry state of affairs has come about, and preferably an apology.

He hasn’t given us any of this.

15

yes anthony, you are quite right in requesting a ‘how come’ style of interview. i too have been less than impressed with the BS being sprouted by renault and to a lesser degree by RB.

i am sure that some serious sleuthing by james and his team would unearth some better sourced detail of what the problems are. there must be volumes of discussions between teams and team members as to the problems being encountered by renault.

we are literally a couple of weeks away from the melbourne GP and it would appear that RB could have problems with the 107% rule!!! can one imagine that? come on james, get the cloak and dagger out and head off into the dark bahreini desert for some clandestine meetings with shady MB/mclaren garagistes. i can’t wait….

16

I really dislike the use of the phrase “Power Unit”, which is so vague. Why can’t we just keep referring to the “engine/ERS”?

17

I found this to be an interesting read: http://www.mark-gallagher.com/news/testing-times-for-f1s-power-players

“The reliability required by every manufacturer’s power unit has yet to be fully proven.”

Also, according to Autosport, Renault powered teams did more laps than Ferrari powered teams in Bahrain.

18

Caterham will have made a roomy non-cutting she car that ironically has more room for better cooling than the sharp edge teams… Caterham to score a point in Oz..?

19

Can’t help but feel disappointed for Dan Ricciardo. At this rate, his home race will be an embarrassment for Red Bull. It’s just unfortunate for him that his home race is first-up!

Surely the Renault engine teams are going to suffer until racing returns to Europe. If they encounter problems early in the season, it’s not like they can have parts quickly flown over in between practice sessions etc.

20

Given the 100KG fuel limit – does that kill the last 2% or racing left in F1? Or is it not as bad as it looks on paper?

I don’t understand the point of racing, if the driver can’t push… there is a real disconnect in F1, right now… everything is geared towards boredom.

21

Fuel efficiency is a major factory not currently being discussed during the test sessions; largely cos there’s little information on it.

But even if Mercedes are the best in terms of power and driveability, if Ferrari have a more fuel efficient engine, it could be them that are able to have the better race performance.

While I welcome this new era of finally pushing technology and efficiency, I do share your concerns on the racing. After all it’s a sport first and foremost. I recall Button, when asked about the major factor of racing, saying fuel conservation is a massive part of the race…

I’m remaining optimistic however. And if Vettel isn’t dominating again, that’ll be a positive already!

22

James, what’s the the qualifying cut off point this season, is it still 107% ? is it possible that we could see a lot of renault engined cars DNQ in the first races?

23

There is no mention of 107% cut off in the 2014 FIA Sporting Regulations, as far as I can see

24

The 107% cut off rule seems still alive under art 36.1 “During Q1, any driver whose best qualifying lap exceeds 107% of the fastest time set during that session, or who fails to set a time, will not be allowed to take part in the race.” Sporting Regulations V2_23 January 2014

25

I stand corrected. You are right it’s still there

27

I believe he deserves??? That’s actually a wrong statement, so I guess its all correct assuming Hamilton is the best driver in the world based on him finishing in a best championship position of 4th since 2008? And on the way beaten by Button and arguably also beaten by Rosberg if it wasn’t for team orders and multiple mechanical failures. So yes Vettel, Button, Rosberg all deserve more credit from the british speaking media, as I’ve said before these tests even if Mercedes lock out the front row at Melbourne I wouldn’t start celebrating too early, just look at 2012.

28

RE Tealeaf and Richard: I think both of you are half right and half wrong, if I can explain:

Lewis has incredible speed, but also incredible ability to have accidents/collisions/incidents with his competitors. I think also Lewis has poor spacial awareness: witness Brazil last year when he swiped Vatty off the track. Lewis had more collisions with his fellow drivers than just about any other top line driver. Lewis seems to think a driver will just magically jump out of his way. They won’t Lewis!

In his favour, Lewis is superb in the wet, and masterful at controlling the race from the front.

Jenson is not the best qualifier, and his driving technique backs him into a corner if a car’s set up is not complaint. However, when a car set-up is to his liking, he can be in a league of his own. Jenson is stunning in mixed conditions, and is superb at coming through the pack.

Lewis needs to stop running into his colleagues, and Jenson needs to get his qualifying pace sorted out. Otherwise, they are both superb!

29

I don’t think do so. In the three years Hamilton and Button were team mates it was 2-1 to Hamilton, and Hamilton potentially could have won the championship had it not been for McLaren’s technical, and operational slip ups. Points do not carry over year to year, never have never will. Hamilton also beat Rosberg on points and the wins would have been 2-1 to Hamilton had it not been for tyre failure. You present a very slanted view that frankly no-one is taken in by.

30

If buts could would, selective facts doesn’t make Hamilton’s facts any better, truth is the only way Hamilton can win the title is if his main challengers are te likes of Massa and Rosberg, even then he’d need major help from other sources (e.g. Glock) to beat these average drivers.

31

You will see just how average Vettel is this year when Ricciardo settles in. This year Vettel will be confined to the midfield.

32

I can understand Red Bull being late with their 2014 car because they were pushing the development on the 2013 car to win both Championships.

But why is Renault so late on the Power Unit? Given that there was an engine freeze, I would have thought Renault could have started work on the Power Unit much earlier than Red Bull – and most probably did.

So why is Renault so late with their dyno testing and software calibration etc?

33

What if Renault have some cracking PU design that, if only it worked, is clearly superior to the other Pus? Then, you ‘homologate’ the clever design, warts and all. Then, you repeatedly go to the FIA with proof of a particular reliability problem, tweak the design repeatedly to fix the issues, and build in reliability over time. Isn’t the homologation for a number of years? How do you ensure that you give yourself ‘room for improvement’ for the coming years? You design something more far-fetched that, when finally working, will put everyone else to shame. All within the rules.

Getting more speed out of a safe design is a lot harder than getting a fast design to be more reliable, in the long run.

To the folks at Viry, I’d be glad to help you with your spin… 🙂

34

Well I really hope you’re Rob, sounds like a grande masterplan!!

35

For Formula 1 fan, here is a free guide to the 2014 season.

http://www.newziggf1.com/guidef1_2014.pdf

36

It’s been said this mess is due to Renault having delegated the electrical energy units to the teams, themselves only providing the engine.

– is this true ?

– if true, isn’t this just foolish ? It seems only major corporations such as Renault, Mercedes, or Fiat may have the necessary ressources to design and build such complex systems.

37

They are producing the electrical energy systems themselves now, but they have not done so in the past. Whereas Ferrari and Mercedes have always done so, and therefore started the development process for 2014 with an advantage.

However they have experience built up in the Renault-powered teams that they have no doubt drawn on in developing the 2014 units. You would think that the people at Enstone and Milton Keynes who have worked in this area would now have redundant skills as far as the teams are concerned, and should have been redeployed to Renault to help with the new system.

All this was well known in advance, so they had plenty of time to put in an extra effort on the electrical side to catch up. They have no excuse for having failed to do so.

38

If Red Bull manage to recover from this and win the title they are indeed a remarkable and formidable team, but I think the writing is on the wall. This is the year the Red Bull dominance is halted. It seems that Mercedes have done their homework all too well particularly with regard to the powertrain, however McLaren are perfectly capable of steeling the honours with regard to the car. Ferrari cannot be ignored particularly with the driver lineup they have. I do think the championship will go to one of those three, and it’s going to be interesting to learn precisely which.

39

Well said Richard

40

James

Obviously at this point in time reliability is Renault’s key concern, but after the engine homologation date if Renault find that they are behind Mercedes & Ferrari in engine power/performance – can they request engigne changes under reason of ‘reliability’ and improve engine power as a result?

Do Mercedes & Ferrari need to give green light to any engine changes by Renault after the engine development has been frozen?

41

hello james, that was a very honest undisputed presentation of renault’s position but i’m confused by the use of the words ‘power unit’ to describe the engine. I thought power meant the rate of energy consumption or production. should they not just call it a hybrid engine? just like electrical energy generation stations are named power stations.

i am confused.

42

Power unit is the term we have to use now to describe the IC engine and the hybrid system of energy regeneration (ERS) i.e. motors and battery, which is coupled to it. If any part of that PU fails then that is one of their 5 allocated units for the season gone,

43

i see, does that mean the fia decided on the name?

44

No, because its not French. There are laws about this, y’know!

45

To be honest the word “powertrain” has been used in the automotive industry for many years and is nothing new. It actually covered everything from engine, gearbox, final drive, and all the ancillaries so it simply means not just the IC engine itself.

46

James,

I find it incredible that the brain power floating around in Red Bull would get the basic cooling requirement so wrong. Jerez was at least 30 deg cooler than the temp at the warmer venues and they could not cope.

Is it more likely that Renault misled the teams on the amount of cooling required, perhaps they issued a predicted cooling load figure and failed to update the teams when they found it was significantly underestimated. Could it be a case of “well fix that before the testing starts” but never did due to the other more serious issues they have.

47

Have no fear, RBR and Reanault fans, the all-powerful Carlos Ghosn will simply stand before an audience of securities analysts and decree that Renault Sport F1 PU will have parity with Mercedes “PU” by Melbourne. This decree will be as effective as Mr Ghosn’s decree that Renault SA would achieve a normalized 6% EBIT margin.

48

I’m sure the motor itself is fine, their problems are in the integration of the electrical power systems.

I sense that they have totally messed up engineering required on the energy recovery systems not forgetting that the real art in this new era is the integration of all the technologies to produce a Power Unit which delivers linear torque on demand.

Another worrying feature which has been acknowledged by RB is the system runs hot! The V6 engine is a mature known technology – electric motors acting as motors are incredibly efficient and run cool, so do we assume that the excessive heat being generated is due to losses from the electrical generation and storage systems?

If so, this points to fundamental issues of the power management systems.

The software updates we read about are to address the ERS effects but do not address the cause!

Considering how long Renault have had to develop this PU and the problems they have now indicates to me that they’re out of their depth and will take months to fix!

Cancelled contracts on the way.

One last note – rumours of Infiniti leaving Red Bull indicate to me a conflict of interest and that RB have already approached Honda for 2015.

49

I would like to know, what adjustments and changes could still be made to the engines after homologation date, if the engines remain buggy and error prone.

50

The regulations only allow for changes in order to improve safety or reliability, although I, too, would like some in-depth analysis of what improvements we can still expect.

Presumably, the engines are not operating to their full potential, and while it would probably not be allowed to make modifications that increase the potential, it would be interesting to know which options exist post homologation that could help Renault to operate their engines more efficiently.

If they are still at a large disadvantage in Melbourne, the Renault teams may also put pressure on the FIA to agree to a “Lex Vettel”, which would allow them to make performance-related upgrades.

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