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While Renault Sport F1 has made changes and hired recently-booted Caterham boss Cyril Abiteboul, it may be a case of mass exodus should the power unit supplier not turn around their performance deficit to Mercedes-powered cars.

AUTOSPORT suggested that the Lotus Formula 1 team may be in advanced talks with Mercedes on a switch to their power units for 2015. If so, this would leave Red Bull and sister team Toro Rosso as well as Caterham holding the bag with a power unit that isn’t producing the kind of performance needed to be competitive.

Will three teams be enough to sustain Renault Sport F1’s investment in the series? Regardless, the article goes on to quote Pastor Maldonado as suggesting that if this should happen, it is no silver bullet:

“If it’s just magic that you can put the [Mercedes] engine in and then go and win races, OK let’s go for it,” he said.

“But it is not that simple, you need to take care of the design of the car.

“It’s not an easy decision and Renault has always been very successful in the past. Hopefully they can improve next year, or even from here to get closer and closer, at least to the Ferrari level in terms of engine.

“Behind the engine there is a huge amount of work in terms of design for the car, so I’m not 100 per cent sure about the move.”

Perhaps the clearest example of Maldonado’s case is the Mercedes-powered McLaren this year that is dawdling around in mid-field with the grid’s most dominant power unit. Shove matters but so to does chassis. It’s a combination that makes life grand or bland.

Red Bull Racing seems intent on making the best of a bad situation and the reality is such that finding a new power unit supplier is no easy task. Honda is entering in 2015 with McLaren and this leaves Mercedes and Ferrari neither of which would seem like an option for Red Bull as team boss Christian Horner said:

“I’d be very surprised if Mercedes were prepared to give us an engine,” he said. “Ferrari has a customer programme but we want to work as a works partner. That, for the longer term, offers us the best chance of success.

“We’ve enjoyed a huge amount of success with Renault. We’ve won nearly 50 grands prix and eight world championships during the last four years with them, so nobody’s giving up on anything. It’s just where they currently are is not right.”

Time will tell but Renault Sport F1 does have an opportunity to make significant performance upgrades at the end of the 2014 season. Could this be the big chance to make 2015 another year of winning for Red Bull?

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An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry and as a CTO, he focuses on technology integration in commercial workspace design, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • If the figures in J. Saward’s power train costs article is correct, Lotus would be saving $2.5 million on the PU, plus the development costs of its own gearbox (I believe it makes its own); say, around $5-7 million for development/tooling/componentry, if the figures I’ve seen ring true.

    Significant savings for a cash-strapped team. The fact that it would be receiving, this year at least, the most competitive power unit, and IMO more importantly team up with the manufacturer whose proven its infrastructure works, is delicious icing on a economical cake.

  • Rapierman

    This sounds like the old “build a better mousetrap” scenario. Merc built the better trap, and here come the mice.

  • jiji the cat

    i think renaults donk will be just fine next season.