The main issue seems to surround the difference between the two engines, with Vauxhall providing additional tuning to the Liverpool’s power units. Liverpool’s engineers are of the opinion that Downton have provided Vauxhall with substandard units to counter the work done in Ellesmere Port, while Downton have strongly denied these claims, suggesting Vauxhall themselves are the ones to blame. Meanwhile, Ocelot have also come out and spoken severely about the Downton units, with Downton’s High Performance Engines division clarifying the relationship between Downton and its two customers.
Downton and Liverpool’s Arthur Lapierre have been in discussion about how to solve these issues, and after the latest round of talks, Lapierre has insisted that Vauxhall end its closed door policy.
Talking to assembled media, Lapierre said: ‘When we entered into the deal with Vauxhall, they, and us, were fiercely proud of the work that was done to become competitive immediately. As such, when we brought Downton into the fold, they were reluctant to share all of their data, and we reached an agreement for Vauxhall to take off-the-shelf Downton units and tune them for us.’
‘We were pleased with our performance over pre-season, but we have fallen back from the sharp end of the grid, and we need to find out why. The only way I can see the solution is to co-operate even more. Bradley has been exceptionally supportive and wants to get this solved, so I’ve issued an ultimatum: Vauxhall must let Downton engineers into the factory otherwise our contract with them will be terminated immediately rather than us letting it expire at the end of the year, no questions asked. The Downton HPE director, Monsieur Austin said, and I quote, that we are ‘insisting the engine is sent elsewhere to be butchered by people who have no idea what they’re doing or how it was built’. Getting him and his team into the Vauxhall factory will show us whether this is true.’
‘I hope this gives us an idea of what needs doing, and for us, it’s a real option to take factory Downton units, while there is also the possibility for us to start the DS-Downton partnership half a season early, or even commit to building factory Citroen units. Whatever the outcome, those responsible for our engine’s issues will be held to account, and whatever happens over the next few weeks and months, contracts WILL be terminated.’
This issue looks set to run and run, with the race in Jerez the first chance for Downton engineers to analyse the data from the Vauxhall units.