what a puzzle for Red Bull F1

After retiring in Bahrain, Verstappen was also knocked out in Melbourne: the fuel system, new bio fuel and the farewell of Honda are accused

Andrea Cremonesi and Paolo Filisetti

– Milan

Three retirements in as many races although interspersed with a victory accompanied by a fourth place. He blasts the alarm siren to Milton Keynes. Max Verstappen’s concern lies in the figures: 25 points against Leclerc’s 71, a gap of 46 points; and it does not reassure him that by tradition Red Bull often arrives unripe for the World Championship, to let loose once the reliability problems have been resolved. A trademark of Adrian Newey that follows the golden rule of racing: a slow but strong car will never become a winner, a fast but fragile one will.

standard parts

The example is that of 2012 when with only 10 races still to go Sebastian Vettel was 44 points behind the leader, the then Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso, and then won the title. The fact is that at that time Red Bull, while fragile, was the fastest on the track, today it clearly is not. Plus it breaks. What is the real evil that afflicts the cars of the world champion is not yet clear: the range of possibilities is wide. For example, the problems can be the result of the project’s extremes (construction of the tank and arrangement of the internal components in a small space): in Bahrain both Max and Sergio Perez stopped due to “lack of fuel pressure”, that is to say, petrol was on board. ‘it was but it no longer reached the engine. Once the nature of the fault was discovered, the system (or the pump?) Was modified and indeed everything went smoothly in Arabia. To stop the Dutchman, however, when he was second on Sunday in Melbourne, a loss of fuel.

plumbing problem

A hydraulic problem seems to be understood. But is it really so? From this year the teams are obliged to use some standard components in the fuel system, as well as new additional sensors that allow the FIA ​​to better monitor the power units. Instruments that created some headaches on the test bench (even for Ferrari) during the preparation of the 2022 power units, which in the thermal part have already been frozen at the first seasonal grand prix (the hybrid part, on the other hand, can be developed until September). Question: Could the higher amount of ethanol in the fuel used this year (the percentage is 10%) be a contributing cause of the lack of reliability? Until last year bio fuel (5.75% of the total) was not a problem because the regulation allowed a certain freedom and suppliers used a product without oxygen. This year it is specified that it is necessary to use ethanol whose oxygen component subtracts the calorific value of the fuel. Hence the loss of horses that Mattia Binotto himself quantified in about twenty. The greater volatility of ethanol also implies that the mixture could ignite in the combustion chamber earlier than it should and not even uniformly. Basically, what the technicians call the flame front propagation, (i.e. how the air / gasoline mixture is burned and the time it takes to do so), this can determine how micro power gaps. In part these could be caused almost voluntarily to actually align the combustion times of the various components of the mixture. In short, delicate processes that took place when Honda left F1, while guaranteeing the management of power units to the GPs through the HRC.


Because to overcome these drawbacks and return to the power levels of the past, the engineers have modified the combustion chamber, pistons, intervening on the flame front and advance, while the suppliers have reformulated the fuel parameters and, above all, they can do it again during the season. . A field in which Ferrari has probably made more progress than Honda and Mercedes.

Leave a Comment