F1: Red Bull, Renault pleased with reliability, now target speed
Red Bull Racing says there is more to come from the RB11, and that its legs have not been stretched at the two tests held so far.
After some problems in Jerez, the car proved to be far more reliable in Barcelona, and between them Daniel Ricciardo and Dany Kvyat ran 418 laps over the four days – a total bettered only by Mercedes. The Australian actually set the fastest overall time on Day 2, running on the soft tire.
However, RBR still hasn’t made up for the track time lost in Jerez and, on combined mileage of the two tests, they rank sixth of the eight teams that have run their new cars. Nevertheless, the team is in a much better state than this time last year.
“This test was never about performance for us,” said Head of Race Engineering Guillaume Rocquelin. “It was about achieving stability and reliability, getting in some pit stop practice, working on procedural things with the mechanics, making sure we could run a race weekend without issue, which we did. We achieved all of that and it puts us in a good place for the final test next week when hopefully we’ll begin to build in performance.”
Renault is also in an upbeat mood following an encouraging test in Barcelona, where both Red Bull and Toro Rosso both did a lot of mileage without facing major problems.
The company says that the power unit spec used last week was closer to that which will be fielded in Australia, although it has not yet been finalized.
“We’re satisfied with the first test at Barcelona where, program-wise, we were able to tick all the boxes for Red Bull and Toro Rosso,” said Rémi Taffin, Renault Sport’s director of operations. “All four drivers have already completed an entire Grand Prix weekend’s distance each, including practice, qualifying, a race simulation and procedures.
“So from a technical standpoint we’re ready for Melbourne – everything has been checked. But we’re still not producing the level of performance that we’d like to. That’s something we’ll be focusing on at the final round of official testing this week, but at least we’re starting from a solid base.
“We’ve continued to shake down parts for Melbourne but are still missing some components and software that would allow us to fully optimize the Power Unit.
“So far we have pushed the ERS to its limits, but also focused our efforts around the internal combustion engine and turbo. It’s for those last two elements that we’re awaiting the newly developed components and software.”
Renault Sport managing director Cyril Abiteboul added: “Regarding performance, of course it’s still a bit early to make a proper judgment as it’s always relative and we don’t know what the competition is doing.
“On our side, we didn’t spend the test chasing lap times. Such aggressive and uncompromising development programs, both in terms of chassis and the Power Unit, as well as new parts arriving at the last minute, also make it difficult to draw conclusions.
“Saying that, we’re still confident of achieving our target: reducing our Power Unit deficit to Mercedes by half for the first Grand Prix. Our reinforced partnership with Red Bull is also moving in the right direction, and the overall situation looks encouraging.”