Red Bull expect consistent challenge after Renault engine test

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer
Red Bull team
Max Verstappen's win in Spain came only seven days after he was promoted from junior team Toro Rosso to Red Bull

Red Bull expect to become more consistent challengers at the front of Formula 1 following a successful first test of a new Renault engine.

Renault trackside operations director Alan Permane said the engine performed as expected in testing in Spain this week, adding: "It looks good."

Renault sources had predicted a performance improvement of 0.4-0.5 seconds a lap from the development.

The extra power should put Red Bull at Ferrari's level at all tracks.

Red Bull's average qualifying deficit to Ferrari over the first five races of the season is 0.454secs - and Red Bull's fastest lap in Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix was 0.235secs slower than Ferrari's.

Mercedes remain at least a further half-second ahead at the front of the field.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen won Sunday's race from Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen, after Mercedes team-mates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg crashed out.

Daniel Ricciardo
Ricciardo finished in fourth place at the Spanish Grand Prix

After testing the new engine on Tuesday, Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo, who led the first half of the Spanish race, said: "The progress is definitely there.

"Now to make that next step; that is the last little step we are after to try to really get on Mercedes. But we are getting closer. That is exciting."

Renault reserve driver Esteban Ocon added: "It is really good. Really good. I can tell it will be quicker for sure."

The new power unit is about 30bhp more powerful thanks to a redesign of the combustion of the internal combustion engine, adopting a clever new technology pioneered by Mercedesexternal-link when turbo hybrid engines were introduced in 2014.

The power boost will still leave the Renault - which in the Red Bull is badged after a sponsor - short of the Mercedes and Ferrari engines, which are reputed to be about 50bhp more powerful than the engine Renault have raced so far this year.

But in combination with the excellence of the Red Bull chassis - widely regarded as the second best on the grid after Mercedes - it should be enough to reduce the gap to Ferrari to virtually nothing.

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Renault had originally planned the engine's debut for the Canadian Grand Prix on 10-12 June. There is a possibility they could bring that forward to the race in Monaco next week, but no decision has yet been made.

Either way, Ricciardo expects the team to perform well in Monaco.

"Monaco will be our best chance yet," the Australian said. "We had a good chance at the weekend - but for pure speed, Monaco should be interesting."

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said after the Spanish Grand Prix that Renault "have done a great job in making progress".

He added: "With what's in the pipeline for the coming races, there is a lot of reason for optimism.

"If we get what's advertised, it is going to put us in a position at least to race Ferrari every weekend. Then hopefully we can start to get into trying to close that gap to Mercedes at certain circuits."

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