Are Red Bull struggling in the aftermath of engine mapping saga?
27 July, 2012
Jul.27 (Reuters-Apex) McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton was fastest in both practice runs for the Hungarian Grand Prix on Friday while Red Bull, hit by a new rule banning a controversial engine setting this week, endured two slow sessions and appeared to be struggling.
In a rain-hit second session, the British driver clocked a best time of one minute 21.995 seconds, slightly better than his first session time, followed by Kimi Raikkonen of Lotus and Williams’ Bruno Senna.
Red Bull’s drivers, who failed to make the top 10 in the first session, were well down on the timing screens again. Sebastian Vettel was eighth and Mark Webber, second behind leader Fernando Alonso in the Formula One championship, was 14th.
Red Bull were forced to change their engine torque mapping on the RB8 after the governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) closed down a loophole in the regulations this week. The new ruling, addressing a hugely complex issue, limits how much teams can change specific settings that control the amount of torque delivered by the engine in various conditions.
Red Bull were referred to the stewards over the engine torque mapping before last week’s German Grand Prix. They were cleared of breaching the regulations but the FIA made it clear in its wording of the decision that it was not happy with the situation.
Vettel said on Thursday: “It’s not as if the car doesn’t work any more. I’m quite confident nothing will change. There is probably more fuss outside the car than the difference is inside.”
At the end of the final session on Friday the world champion added, “There’s still a lot of room for improvement and things that we need to do a bit better for the weekend – then we can see where we are.”
Webber stated, “We got some running in the wet and the dry, but we’ve got work to do. I’m not super happy with that today, but it’s good that it’s only Friday. There’s no change from the engine mapping amend[ment].”
Meanwhile, speaking during the FIA press conference, Renault’s Head of Track Operations Rémi Taffin insisted that neither of the Red Bull drivers will be significantly compromised at the Hungaroring by the changes.
“It’s very difficult to quantify, but we’re talking about hundredths and not at all about seconds or tenths,” he said of the loss in performance the pair might suffer.
“We’re not talking about big changes. We’re talking about an ongoing process, which is obviously race after race you try to optimise your package and engine maps are part of that and that’s what we’ve been trying to do since the beginning of the year,” added Taffin.
Red Bull have a reputation for keeping a low profile in free practice, particularly on the opening day of a grand prix weekend.
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