Monaco marked the first appearance of the purple marked ultrasoft Pirelli tyre at a race weekend. Introduced at the start of this season and initially billed as a qualifying tyre, the compound seems decidedly similar to a supersoft in both pace and longevity. An assertion supported by Haas and Renault’s decision to take just soft and ultrasoft tyres to the Canadian Grand Prix, avoiding the supersoft completely.
Max Verstappen’s breakthrough victory at the Spanish Grand Prix took the motorsport world by surprise. His already lofty stock has risen considerably in the past two weeks. The teenager’s new team Red Bull are certainly returning to form, out-qualifying both Ferrari’s in Spain and are preparing to fit an upgraded Renault powerunit into the RB12, which promises to deliver around half a second per lap of performance.
Daniel Ricciardo certainly capitalised on home advantage last weekend, as he took his Red Bull RB12 to fourth position. However, being in Australia had no bearing on the power output of the TAG Heuer branded Renault powertrain, as Ricciardo was seemingly able to compete on the straights – something the team have been unable to do in this era of the sport.
Having finished just 24 seconds off the lead despite being on a decidedly compromised strategy, Red Bull seem set for a stronger 2016 campaign.
300 races, 19 seasons and 35 race victories amassed by talents such as Rene Arnoux, Alain Prost and Fernando Alonso, amounting to two drivers titles both claimed by the latter. Renault is a works team with an illustrious history and with us F1 fans being a nostalgic bunch, their return to the grid in 2016 is significant.
Now back at the Enstone base where they enjoyed title success in 2005 and 2006, the French marque will hope that they can rekindle that achievement over a stint in the sport which will span until 2024 at least.
After a 2015 campaign which admittedly lacked the blockbuster moments and barring a handful of classic races, was a little lacking in on-track entertainment, the debate is on in regards to what the sport needs to enthrall again. However, it seems that fans have followed the lead of the teams in failing to reach consensus on almost every discussion topic. This was a fact highlighted in a recent article on the Top Gear website, in which fans were offered a series of questions in regards to the hot topics of the day.
It made for some intriguing, if slightly concerning reading, which I will analyse in coming articles. First up, why fans that believe a move back to V8’s is required might need to think about long-term implications.
A parting gift for Red Bull but a litmus test for Renault?
Inevitably, as the nights begin to draw in across Europe, teams and engine manufacturers are driving towards 2016. After all, stretching the purse strings to add improvements to a car which is destined to spend the majority of its future as a museum piece is hardly a viable option. As such, developments are made with next year in mind and in the case of Red Bull and Renault, attention has been firmly on 2016 for quite some time. The eleven tokens spent by Renault ahead of this weekend’s US Grand Prix are most likely to be with a eye to a works team future in mind – a litmus test for the unit which could power the first fully-fledged Renault F1 Hybrid.
Lead time on engine development is always longer than chassis improvement but Red Bull’s 2015 campaign is somewhat dependent on a power-pack boost. Some promising dyno testing at Renault’s Viry-Chatillon headquarters has suggested that relief for the two Red Bull teams is incoming, but as Christian Horner has expressed, the team needed the upgrade “yesterday”. Will pressure from the partners see the supplier press fast-forward on the updates.