Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen was far from delighted with Renault’s third-specification power unit which the French manufacturer introduced for this weekend's Italian Grand Prix.
The works Renault team was reluctant to introduce its upgrade to its own car because of reliability concerns. However, its long-time customer team Red Bull Racing took the risk and installed a fresh power unit, the third-specification one to both its cars for the Italian GP weekend.
Daniel Ricciardo started discovering the new PU during Friday practices. After a small hiccup in the first practice session, the Australian was delighted with the engine gains. The team, thus, decided to install the new engine in Max Verstappen’s car, as well.
However, the qualifying session sent Red Bull into no man’s world and Verstappen’s difference of just under 1.5s to the pole-sitter Kimi Räikkönen made the Dutch driver disheartened.
“It’s a little bit faster than the old one, so in that way it is positive, but it’s of course still not enough,” Verstappen said.
“Maybe in Q3 it [the gap to the front] was a little bit bigger than in Q2, but in Q3 I was also the first one out in my final run when I did my fastest lap and they were all towing each other, so that’s another three, four tenths on this track.It could have been a little bit better. It’s still over a second off, but that’s also what we are missing from the engine.”
Daniel Ricciardo who is set to join the works Renault team next year praised the upgrade, indicating that the development improved the torque of the engine.
“I believe it still wasn’t optimised on that one lap, but it feels like the torque curve keeps going a bit [and it] kind of pulls a bit harder or longer on lots of corners, so it seemed encouraging. My first lap yesterday [when the engine shut down briefly in FP1 I was worried, but that was a small hiccup - it’s been pretty positive since then,” concluded the Australian.