Red Bull Racing chief technical officer Adrian Newey fears that the team could lose even more ground on rivals Mercedes and Ferrari over the course of the 2016 Formula 1 season.
2015 saw Red Bull ail to its worst championship performance in seven years as issues with the Renault power unit limited drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat to just three podium finishes in total.
The team attempted to strike an engine deal with Ferrari and Mercedes for 2016, but was unable to come to an agreement and will use rebranded Renault power units instead.
Speaking to The Hindu in India, Newey was dismayed by the current engine-centric formula that offers teams little chance to make up for the shortcomings of their power units.
“It is important to find the right balance between the chassis, engine and the driver for the sport to be competitive, but right now the engine is dominating, which is unhealthy,” Newey said.
“Cosworth came with a winning engine in 1967 that was exclusively for use by the Lotus team. It became very clear that the engine was going to be dominant. Then, Lotus agreed to waive its exclusivity to allow others to use it for the good of the sport.
“Unfortunately, that sort of attitude doesn’t seem to exist any more. If the sport is not healthy, what’s the point in winning?”
The engine situation is such that Newey doubts Red Bull will be able to catch the manufacturer teams in 2016, and fears it could slip further behind across the course of the year.
“Our hope for 2016 is to just maintain that gap,” Newey said.
“But with Ferrari and Mercedes expected to step up, towards the end of the year we might be further behind than we were last year.”
James Hinchcliffe will finish the NTT IndyCar Series season for Andretti Autosport, replacing Zach Veach in the No. 26 Dallara-Honda.
The team made the announcement Friday afternoon that Hinchcliffe will return after racing for Andretti at Texas Motor Speedway, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and the Indianapolis 500.
Hinchcliffe, who also has worked as an IndyCar on NBC analyst and pit reporter, will race in the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida.
“It’s always unfortunate to have to change drivers this far into a season, but we have to look at finishing the year the best we can for the 26 team and start evaluating and looking at options for 2021,” team owner Michael Andretti said in a release. “James has an existing relationship with our team that we’d love to build on and it makes the most sense for him to step in for these last three races. We are looking forward to seeing what he can do.”
Hinchcliffe has a season-best finish of seventh in the Indy 500. He had been working on trying to put together a deal for next season after scrambling to secure a partial schedule this year when he lost his ride at Arrow McLaren SP after 2020 with a year left on his deal.
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“I know, probably better than most, what Zach is feeling right now, and I have to say that he has handled everything about as class act as you can,” Hinchcliffe said. “I’ve known Zach as a teammate, before that as a colleague and even before that as a friend, and he is a guy that I respect in every way. I know he is a fighter and will fight back to where he wants to be.
“For me now, my focus is 100% on racing the Harvest GP and getting the best possible results for Gainbridge, for Honda, for Michael and for the team. I obviously haven’t been on a road course in a while, but at least the last time I was, it was here at IMS! Hopefully that puts us in a good position to go out there and have a strong weekend.”