#F1Testing Could the title challenges of @Max33Verstappen and @danielricciardo be determined by oil burn? @SportmphMark

“We’d like to see the [oil burn] rules go further because it still doesn’t deal with qualifying. It contains the race but still, there are windows of opportunity in qualifying which we’d like to see further closed down. Hopefully that will have an effect in creating engine convergence.”

Those were the words of Christian Horner on Monday and it’s easy to see the motivation of his position on this. The practice of oil burning and how it might be used to give power-boosting qualifying engine modes may well be the determining detail of who wins any given race this year. Daniel Ricciardo’s highly promising pace on the first day of testing – he headed the field ahead of Mercedes and Ferrari in the new Red Bull RB14 – suggests the team could be genuine victory contenders from day one.

Amid rumours that both Mercedes and Ferrari have cracked 1000bhp on their dynos, the performance of the Renault motor in the back of the Red Bull is obviously a concern. Just as in the last three years, it’s clearly good enough to help Red Bull run a competitive race pace and for the first time this year it has some sort of qualifying mode available. But that jump is not anything like that being achieved last year by Ferrari, and, particularly, Mercedes. Clearly Horner suspects that difference is being achieved by oil burning which, though further restricted this year, is still possible, especially in qualifying. Oil burning brings an advantage in a fuel flow limited engine formula. The fuel flow cannot exceed an instantaneous rate of 100kg/hour and so beyond a certain threshold (typically around 11,000rpm) extra revs will not bring any further power. But if in addition to the fuel you can feed the combustion chamber something else with burnable calories – such as oil – then you get around that limitation…