Renault F1 Wanted To Boost Engine Performance By Buring Oil
Scuderia Ferrari raised the suspicions of rival F1 teams during the 2019 campaign of sudden and mysterious PU (power unit) gains. Ferrari’s performance was lackluster during the early part of the 2019 season. After the mid-point break, they came back with mysterious engine performance gains. In modern-day F1 it is very rare to find such a performance boost mid-way through the season. So that’s why many teams and observers began to raise suspicions.
Mercedes and Red Bull smelled a Ferrari rat or rather burning oil emanating from Ferrari’s pit garage. We know that oil is used to lubricate and “cool” engines but it also has an energy density. Not as comparable or as dense as the energy density of petrol but enough to make a big difference.
Redirecting burnt oil into the engine’s combustion chamber can boost performance. The FIA is aware of this and even regulates the practice allowing teams to burn 0.6 litres of oil per 100km. When Ferrari’s performance improved suddenly Mercedes and Red Bull aired their suspicions.
The FIA subsequently issued new technical directives regulating the rate of fuel flow and oil burning. Not long after Ferrari’s performance tailed off as suddenly as it improved. Renault F1 was considering introducing a similar solution, preferring to raise the issue of oil-burning legality with the FIA behind closed doors.
In an interview with German media Remi Taffin, Head of Renault’s F1 engine department, explained why Renault remained silent when others spoke up.
“Quiet is the wrong word. Our regular inquiries to the FIA were not made public. Sometimes you have an idea that could give you an advantage.”
“However, you are not sure whether you are interpreting the rules correctly so you ask for clarification. If the FIA is satisfied with it in the end, we will not make it public. We want to keep the advantage to ourselves.”