Christian Horner rebuffs Daniel Ricciardo chassis deficit claim

F1i 12:10 09/06/2015
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Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo finished in 13th place at the Canadian Grand Prix.

While fireworks from Red Bull weren’t exactly expected in Montreal, Daniel Ricciardo labeled his weekend as “a new low” for himself and the team as a lackluster 13th place was all the 2014 Canadian Grand Prix winner could salvage.

The young Australian saw the writing on the wall on Saturday, after qualifying, pointing once again to the Renault power unit as the main culprit but also holding his Red Bull chassis equally accountable for his and the team’s dreadful underperformance.

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Although he understood Ricciardo’s frustration, team principal Christian Horner disagreed with his driver’s claims however, and insisted that the bulk of the issue remained firmly rooted in the French manufacturer’s power plant.

“Our deficit I would say is 80-85% power unit and 15-20% chassis and there are some characteristics of the chassis that we are working on and will improve but it tends to become a vicious circle, ” Horner expressed. “I think there was a bit of frustration in his (Ricciardo) comments, that he wasn’t happy with his performance, that he had been out-qualified by his team-mate when expectation here, particularly after last year, were high. We have made progress with the chassis and we have brought development and improvement to the chassis really since Malaysia and at each Grand Prix, and we have a lot more in the pipeline throughout the year.”

With 2015 clearly a year to be written off for the Milton Keynes outfit, sights are now set on 2016, although Horner believes in-season engine development rules, and the February 28 homologation deadline by which all manufacturers must submit their performance improvements, must be addressed if Renault is to stand a chance to emerge from the doldrums, and more crucially, remain in Formula 1.

“I think, from Renault’s perspective, it’s the worst thing for them because the engines are effectively frozen for ever after that date. If you’ve missed it by 28 February, the scale of difference is unachievable in that time-frame so really, as these regulations are still relatively immature, it makes sense to allow, as this year, development to happen in-season.”

But any regulation change must receive the unanimous consent from the teams, something Mercedes is obviously reluctant to provide.

Asked if he thought Mercedes would change their stance on the matter, Horner said: “They don’t have to obviously but I think the situation is at a precarious point in terms of Renault’s commitment to the future. If you are effectively shutting that down in February, you are almost waving goodbye to them so I think they need to have a bit of a grown-up think about it – and the FIA as well – to say what is in the best interests of F1. If F1 can afford to lose an engine manufacturer, then stick to 28 February…”

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