Christian Horner believes that no short-term solutions for Renault’s engine deficit to Mercedes will be found overnight and added that without rain (an unlikely occurance in Bahrain), the German manufacturers advantage could even be extended this weekend.
“I think their (Mercedes) advantage in Bahrain will possibly be larger than it was in Malaysia, because that is quite a power dominated circuit,” said Horner. “It’s a big gap and I think they (Mercedes) have plenty up their sleeve at the moment and I think we’ve done incredibly well to get close to them this weekend. Considering what we’re doing with the engine it’s beyond expectation.”
So just where where is Renault at? And can changes be made around the homologation?
“Renault knows there’s a lot more to come and there are some driveability issues to sort out” added Horner. “A lot of the issues are software related, but it’s a matter of getting all three elements working in harmony; the combustion engine, the turbo and the engine recovery system, which also affects your braking and power delivery.”
The speed issue isn’t confined to Renault either. In chasing the Mercedes powered Force India of Nico Hulkenberg (on a scrubbed set of tyres), Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari struggled to get past in a tow even with his RDS fully open. With Monza speeds being predicted on the straights in Bahrain this is bad news for all non-Mercedes powered teams.
“Our middle sector in Malaysia was closer than the third sector, but the first sector was where they killed us all weekend – and it is effectively two straights – on average that’s half a second” Horner added.
Heading into Melbourne, Horner claimed that Red Bull’s engine package was 60% of where it needed to be. On Sunday in Malaysia he coyly estimated this to be “probably around 65%”
A fuel sensor once again failed on Daniel Ricciardos car, just as it did in Melbourne. Although Ricciardo’s race was ultimately brought undone by failures within the team, it sensor issue did rear its head again with Red Bull’s appeal (over their exclusion in Melbourne) looming later this month.
“It failed prior to the race. Obviously we spoke to the FIA about it and they asked us to see if we could revive it on the grid by effectively power-cycling the car” Christian explained. “We did that at the start of the race but it didn’t come back to like and didn’t work the whole race.”
As Red Bull’s fuel rail provided no dramas – given Ricciardo was instructed to “hit the beeps” by his engineer – the failure could prove handy evidence for an appeal; a fact that Horner skilfully danced around when posed the question.
“I wouldn’t say that but it hasn’t been the only issue with the sensors this weekend, but I think it clearly demonstrates there are issues with these sensors” said Horner. “Toro Rosso had two failures earlier in the weekend so it certainly isn’t unique to Red Bull.”
Horner’s claims of faulty sensors on Red Bull’s junior team refute that of the FIA, when on Friday Charlie Whiting told the press that there had been no instances of faulty sensors since the beginning of the weekend.”
Each sensor also “has a life of 400 hours” explained Whiting. With an entire season amounting to roughly half that time period, reliability shouldn’t be an issue.
Images courtesy RichlandF1