Red Bull 'ahead of schedule' with new car
18 January 2016 – Red Bull is "well ahead of schedule" with the preparation of its 2016 challenger, despite a lengthy period of uncertainty over the outfit's engine supply, Team Manager Jonathan Wheatley has explained.
Red Bull and Renault publically fell out in 2015, as the French manufacturer struggled for reliability and performance, prompting the squad to enter talks with rivals Mercedes, Ferrari and Honda.
But all three avenues failed to produce an agreement, and Red Bull ultimately stuck with Renault units for the 2016 season, albeit rebranded as TAG Heuer, following a naming rights deal with the brand.
Although the engine delays added to Red Bull's task for the winter period, Wheatley says the team has responded admirably, and looks "very comfortable" in the build up to pre-season testing.
"It's been a challenge, but I think if there's any team capable of dealing with that it's us," Wheatley told GPUpdate.net, when asked about how tough a task Red Bull faced over the winter.
"The guys have done a fabulous job in the factory – amazing work over Christmas. Everything feels pretty much under control. We know what we're going to get and when we're going to get it.
"We were lucky in that the power unit that we ended up with (Renault) was the one that we knew very well, so the packaging [of the car] has been relatively straightforward in that respect.
"I was sat with the chief designer recently and things are well ahead of schedule."
Wheatley added that Red Bull has been encouraged by recent developments at Renault, with the latter recruiting Mario Illien's firm, Ilmor Engineering, to assist with its troubled power unit.
"There's some very good news coming out of France at the moment," he said.
"It's not going to be extraordinary, but they've made some gains – it's very positive.
"I think that's probably where we are at the moment. Is it going to be on the same level as the other [leading] power units in 2016? I think that's probably unlikely. But we only need to get close."
Red Bull's new car will be officially titled the Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer RB12.