The F1 team bosses have been meeting at Ferrari’s headquarters in Maranello to come up with a set of proposals for F1’s rules for 2011 and beyond. Speaking before the meeting, Renault’s Flavio Briatore gave a frank assessment of his team’s problems:
The problem is that us, Renault, have stuck to the letter of the current regulations on frozen engines, and we’ve been buggered: others didn’t do that and are far ahead, while we suffer. It’s not fair.
Engine development in Formula 1 is outlawed because of the ‘engine freeze’ – in theory. However F1 teams are allowed to replace parts to fix faults and improve reliability. Early in the season rumours suggested Ferrari had exploited this rule to make certain performance-enhancing tweaks on their engines, and that other manufacturers had since followed suit.
This is what Briatore seems to be hinting at.
Engine development is extremely costly and the freeze was supposed to help alleviate that cost. Renault has often drawn attention to how it is one of the least profligate F1 outfits although they are still among the top spenders.
Renault are clearly struggling in 2008 and are sixth in the constructors’ championship at the moment.
It’s not just Renault who use the engines – Red Bull do too. Since Red Bull’s Ferrari-powered sister team Toro Rosso got its hands on the STR3 chassis – which is an RB4 in all but name and a few details – it’s been worrying the Red Bull ‘A Team’.
So why didn’t Renault follow the other teams by developing their engines. It’s doubtful the idea hadn’t occurred to them. And it would be rather naïve to suggest they passed up the chance of improving their engines out of a noble dedication to the cause of cutting costs.
Perhaps it’s a sign the team’s budget is being squeezed?