Christian Horner and Cyril Abiteboul provided some insightful details on the break-up between Red Bull and Renault, as prompted by a question at the TP press conference in Baku. The two locked horns on how the relationship between Red Bull and the French engine manufacturer deteriorated following their first shortcomings.
It was argued whether Adrian Newey’s heavy criticism towards Renault back at the beginning of the V6 turbo era was part of a strategy, in order to trigger a reaction from the French manufacturer and Horner went full disclosure: “I read with interest Adrian’s comments about that and I think what he is referring to is actually back in 2015, where we’d had several conversations, we’d been to Paris, we’d seen Carlos Ghosn, we’d presented what our concerns were and I think by 2015, when the engine was arguably worse than it was in 2014, then frustration boiled over to the point that it was like ‘OK, if we are more open about what our frustrations are, maybe it will force a reaction”.
There is often a deeper purpose in public and open criticism, as the words will be twice as heavy as they would be in a private conversation. Therefore, the media somehow are used to build a bridge between two partners, who are supposed to work closely.
"It was one of the things that you try every mechanism that you can to try to generate competitiveness – Horner continued- and at that time it was felt that maybe Renault couldn’t possibly afford the embarrassment of these engines not being competitive and not being reliable and not delivering, but unfortunately it didn’t work”
Abiteboul’s response was as blunt as Horner was: “It was very good until the last word – it didn’t work. One thing we can give credit to Christian and Red Bull is that they are fantastic at communication strategy. It’s not the first team and it’s not the last team to use all the weaponry of this world.”
You cannot erase history and achievements, although partnerships do draw to a close. Abiteboul remarked that, stating that Renault played a key role in Red Bull’s F1 path nonetheless. “We were extremely happy and Renault has contributed to making Red Bull what it is today by winning 4 championships in a row – from a financial perspective with sponsors, from a technology perspective with talent, recruitment – Red Bull is what it is today thanks also to Renault.”
“Later on we lost a little bit the momentum and sight of what needed to be done for 2014 regulations. The rest is history and we’ll see what the future is holding.”
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