BARCELONA (Reuters) – Renault has blamed faulty batteries for electrical problems suffered in testing by McLaren and Red Bull, both teams who use their engines.
McLaren had two electrical-related problems on Tuesday, the first day of the final pre-season test in Barcelona, while Red Bull’s Max Verstappen also brought out a red flag when his car stopped on track.
Renault’s works team had no problems but technical head Bob Bell said it was nothing to do with the way the batteries were installed.
“What we do ahead of (the season opener in) Melbourne is that we try and shake down all of the battery systems to make sure all of the stock that are going racing are in good shape,” he told the formula1.com website.
“That’s why we test them here. We revolve them around the customer teams and ourselves to make sure they are all tested ahead of Melbourne. So it’s not unusual to find issues,” he added.
McLaren have switched to Renault this season after terminating their difficult three-year relationship with Honda.
Honda’s new partners Toro Rosso, owned by Red Bull, have now done many more laps than McLaren, whose first week of testing in Barcelona was hit by mechanical niggles.
Belgian Stoffel Vandoorne lost power in the car early on Tuesday but was able to coast back to the pits. He then suffered the same issues when he went out again and stopped on track. The team then changed the battery.
His day’s testing was then cut short by an hydraulic leak.
McLaren, who last won a race in 2012, are hoping to get back on the podium this year while Red Bull, who won three races in 2017, are seen as potential title contenders again.
“Those problems could have affected any of the three teams, so of course it’s an issue for us,” Bell said of Tuesday’s issues.
“But the reason we do this testing of those components before going to Melbourne is to find the ones that have got problems,” he added. “It’s the right thing to do, we have found some that are not fit for purpose and that’s great.”
Each driver is allocated two ‘energy stores’ per season under the regulations.
“That’s a pretty heavy duty cycle for them, and the importance of making sure they are completely fault-free is critical, which is why we test them ahead of Melbourne,” explained Bell.
The season starts in Australia on March 25.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin; Editing by John O’Brien)