Renault receive Red Bull support on engine equalisation ahead of crucial F1 meeting

Thomas Maher
Alpine's Renault power unit on display at the Austrian Grand Prix. Spielberg, July 2023.

Alpine's Renault power unit on display at the Austrian Grand Prix. Spielberg, July 2023.

The issue of engine equalisation is going before the F1 Commission this week, and Renault have got some support from Red Bull…

The next meeting of the F1 Commission will be held on Friday at the Belgian Grand Prix, with one of the topics up for discussion being that of engine equalisation.

While the sport is currently approaching the halfway point of a four-year engine freeze that was introduced at the start of 2022, an analysis from the FIA has reportedly uncovered a disparity of performance that is greater than an agreement between the engine manufacturers had intended.

Christian Horner: Red Bull open to sensible discussion

While Red Bull’s Honda-manufactured engine is perhaps the highest-performing engine on the grid, team boss Christian Horner is amenable to the idea of steps being taken to ensure parity across the four engine manufacturers.

“I think it’s a matter of seeing, what are the deficits?” he said, when asked about the F1 Commission meeting.

“I think the FIA have all of the data, and they should present exactly what the differences are.

“I think it’d be fascinating for everybody to see. If there is a deficit under homologation, it’s something that we should be sensitive about.

“Otherwise, you’re locked in for two years, so I wouldn’t be averse to a sensible discussion.”

Otmar Szafnauer: It’s nice that Christian Horner recognises favour for Red Bull

Renault, who manufacture the engines on behalf of the Renault Group’s F1 team, Alpine, were believed to be the engine manufacturer dragging up the rear, with team boss Otmar Szafnauer confirming the situation as he spoke to media after the Hungarian Grand Prix.

“All the teams do the same analysis, and the FIA do the same analysis, and we are significantly down,” he said.

Asked about what he thought of Christian Horner’s comments about being open to discussions about engine equalisation at this week’s meeting, Szafnauer said it was good to see, in light of why the engine freeze was introduced in the first place.

“I’m glad Christian said that because, if you look back, the reason the engines were frozen was because Honda were pulling out at that time,” he said.

“Red Bull didn’t have an engine department to continue developing.

“So the reason we all agreed was for the benefit of Red Bull. So it’s quite nice that Christian recognises that and, at the time of the agreement, there was also an agreement among the engine manufacturers that, if anybody fell outside of 1%, then there would be good faith discussions to bring that parity back.” recommends

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Given that the four homologated engines from the manufacturers were all supposedly of near-level performance at the beginning of the engine freeze, Szafnauer said it’s simple enough how the circumstances can arise that parity is removed.

“I’m not sure that parity was actually there [at the beginning of 2022],” he said.

“I don’t know but the FIA will know – everybody is allowed to fix their reliability issues. And hidden in reliability issues can sometimes be power upgrades – it depends on what reliability you’re fixing.

“I remember in 2007, when we froze the V8s, I was the one who received every request from other teams for Honda, they came to me first. All the requests back then, it was cost-saving, as well as reliability. Then I would pass them on to the correct engineers, but there’s a lot of stuff that can be disguised as reliability, and then you increase the power.”

While both Red Bull and Renault will presumably be voting in favour of examining ways to improve parity, Ferrari’s Fred Vasseur couldn’t be drawn on which way he might vote.

“We had four Ferrari engines in the top 10. It’s a good one,” he said.

“We had some issues with reliability over the last weekend but I hope that we are on it now and that’s behind us. But yeah, the performance of the engine is okay.”

As well as the idea of engine equalisation, other matters up for discussion are a definitive vote of whether or not tyre blankets will be banned in 2024, and whether a tweaking of the Financial Regulations will be made in order to allow for further capital expenditure as the lesser-resourced teams seek to close the gaps in infrastructure to the bigger teams – an impossibility under the current budget cap rules.

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