Renault says last-minute push to blame for F1 woes

Renault has blamed its Australian Grand Prix problems on being too aggressive with late developments on its 2015 Formula One engine, but insists the issues can be solved.

Renault says last-minute push to blame for F1 woes
Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing
Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing RB11
Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull Racing RB11 locks up under braking
Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull Racing RB11
Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull Racing RB11
Cyril Abiteboul, Renault Sport and Dr Helmut Marko, Red Bull Motorsport Consultant
Christian Horner, Red Bull Racing Team Principal
Adrian Newey, Red Bull Racing Chief Technical Officer
The Scuderia Toro Rosso STR10 of race retiree Max Verstappen, Scuderia Toro Rosso
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The French car manufacturer has come under fire from partner Red Bull after a disappointing Melbourne weekend.

After losing a power unit early in the event, Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo finished sixth in Melbourne, one lap behind the winning Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton, and his fastest lap was nearly two seconds slower.

Team boss Christian Horner described the engine as "undriveable" while tech chief Adrian Newey said he saw no "light at the end of the tunnel" in finding a cure.

We've been producing F1 engines for 37 years now. We know what to do.

Cyril Abiteboul

Renault's managing director Cyril Abiteboul admits Renault pushed too hard during the winter, to the point where it had to use new methods to follow what he described as a "ferocious" development race started by Red Bull.

"We had last-minute developments on the engine that by-passed our usual validation process, notably the test bench," he said in an interview with L'Equipe.

"And these changes caused problems at Melbourne. This is what we will focus on upon returning to the factory before heading to Sepang."

He added: "We were very aggressive because Red Bull has taken us on a ferocious race in development.

"We have to ask ourselves questions as to how we have proceeded with them so far, and forgetting our traditional methods.

"We've been producing F1 engines for 37 years now. We know what to do."

Red Bull must do its part too

Abiteboul insists the way Renault turned things around last year shows that it is still possible to have a strong season, even though he has ruled out beating Mercedes on pure performance.

"Last year, if I said we would win three races, you would have laughed. Will we win races due to outright performance? No.

"But it can come back just as quickly as it left. However, fighting wheel to wheel with Mercedes won't happen right away."

When asked about the difficult period the Red Bull/Renault partnership is going through, he said: "We've won together and today we're not comfortable together. Up until now, we've followed them, and listened to them.

"Perhaps today they are realising that there are different universes between chassis and engine and that everyone must do their part."

Toro Rosso buyout possible

Abiteboul confirmed Renault is looking at the possibility of buying a current F1 team to race under its own name, but said the main priority is to first solve the engine problems.

"Toro Rosso is still a possibility. It could be the answer to whether to do more F1 or less. But before thinking about chassis development, we have to make sure the engine issues are corrected.

"That's the priority and we must react."

Translation by Rainier Ehrhardt

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