Red Bull praise Renault and admit clutch failure for Ricciardo
Weeks ahead of their final race with Renault power, Red Bull Racing's leading men were surprisingly honest, and positive about Renault, on the back of a period where the team opted to highlight the French unit's weaknesses, rather than focus on their own.
Red Bull Racing did enjoy a nearly perfect weekend, with both drivers starting from the front row of the grid, and their cars ahead with 10 laps to go.
Team principal Christian Horner admitted that this was partly due to Renault doing everything right to cope with a special circumstances that came with the altitude at Mexico.
"Credit where credit's due," said Horner. "Renault have provided us with an engine this weekend in these conditions that is competitive with our opponents.
"That's enabled us to go head-to-head, lock out the front row of the grid and win the grand prix in a dominant fashion. Theoretically we should have had a one-two here.
"The altitude of this circuit does constrain some of our rivals and it puts Renault into a window where they are competitive."
Indeed, 10 laps from the end, Daniel Ricciardo retired from the race, adding one to his impressive 7 retirements thus far. With that, he was already the record holder this season, underlining that something is indeed not right at Red Bull.
Team chiefs have not been shy to put the blame with Renault, especially when Max Verstappen blew an engine early on in the Hungarian Grand Prix. But truth be told, the reliability figures of other Renault powered teams are better, with the Renault factory cars suffering just three technical retirements together.
This time around, Horner was unwilling to put the blame anywhere, simply stating it appeared to be a clutch problem.
"It looks like a clutch issue that looking at the data probably started around lap six.", Horner said.
"It looks similar to the issue Max had on Friday. They need to quarantine it all and get it back to the UK to understand, but that's what is looking like the culprit."
But with Renault likely out of the picture, Red Bull might go have a talk with another supplier of theirs, given they buy their clutch from racing specialist ZF Sachs Race Engineering AG.
Researching a bit deeper, it seems that Red Bull uniquely do not run the AP clutch this year, instead opting for a ZF made unit. Although, the failures aren't obviously within the clutch itself, but perhaps the RBR installation or control hardware/software.— Craig Scarborough (@ScarbsTech) October 30, 2018
The failure left Ricciardo as disappointed as one can be, also noting that his start was already a disappointment after practice starts were perfect. As he suggested technical issues on that as well, Helmet Marko said it was "just procedure".
In any case, Daniel Ricciardo may have found just why he is leaving Red Bull at the end of the year.
🗣 "I know nobody is doing it deliberately but I just can’t seem to catch a break." @danielricciardo on the #MexicoGP 🇲🇽 Race reaction 👉 https://t.co/3tnJ07cuZS #F1 pic.twitter.com/IdU1GnJ8Gq— Oracle Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) October 29, 2018