Renault aims to gradually close gap with all new engine
Renault's Cyril Abiteboul has revealed that the French manufacturer aims to continue its ascent in the engine department as the company is preparing a completely new platform, including novel technology that has not yet been seen on the track.
Renault's intentions were clear enough one year ago when the company was one of the driving forces to get rid of the development-limiting tokens.
The company endured a dismal start to the V6T engine formula in 2014, but still managed to get on top of most of their problems by focusing almost exclusively on software improvements that enhanced the interaction of all the power unit's components.
Because of the major hardware step that the manufacturer is set to make, Abiteboul now confirmed to motorsport.com that the upgrade will initially be a cautious one, aimed at continuous improvements in the next years.
"I prefer to be conservative in the expectation for the first initial running of the engine at the start of the season," Abiteboul said.
"It is an engine that offers the potential to cope with an awful lot of development," he continued. "We have lot of ideas of concepts in the pipelines, most of them, as far as I am aware, have not been seen at the track.
"Clearly I am not going to disclose anything, but we are super excited by the level of innovation that this new platform offers. So it is a choice that we are not making for the start of the season but we are definitely making for the long term."
The power unit that appears in Australia will be upgraded by another step, currently scheduled for the Spanish Grand Prix.
The Frenchman also confirmed that numerous discussions took place to weigh off the benefits of an entirely new unit against the risk of such an update.
"We have had long discussions about that because at the point in time that everything is changing on the rest of the car, we could have taken a more conservative approach in trying to freeze what we have and focus on the chassis," he admits. "But we have not gone for that. We have gone for a very aggressive option, which is that there is no time.
"If we want to be where we would like to be for 2018 or 2020, which is the next phase, when we want to target the top teams, we cannot afford to delay anything. So we need to accept to take risk. We will be focusing on reliability with that new concept of engine, which will be a new concept I can confirm that.
"It means that it may not be a big jump in terms of performance, simply for the reason that we want to make sure to introduce this concept that it is reliable and that will be the perfect platform to develop the performance for the next three to four years."
Reacting on Red Bull's claim that a 3% increase of power would enable them to fight Mercedes for the championship in 2017, Abiteboul said he was unaware how they could project themselves like this into the near future.
"When I look how fast or how quickly the car is changing in our wind tunnel, I am sure it is the same for all teams. So it is very difficult to think what will be the pecking order.
"We are committed to having the best engine in the grid. Not just within 1 percent but to have the best. And as I said, we think we have a number of ideas of technological concepts that can allow us to be better than Mercedes in the future."