Renault expects cautious start with all-new 2017 F1 engine

Renault has warned its teams to not expect a dramatic step forward in engine power for the start of 2017, with radical concepts from its all-new power unit only likely to deliver proper gains later in the campaign.

Renault expects cautious start with all-new 2017 F1 engine

As Motorsport.com revealed last month, Renault is working on a completely new engine concept for 2017 after feeling that the power unit it had used up to now had reached its development ceiling.

The new engine is being designed at the company's Viry-Chatillon headquarters but its chiefs are adamant that its focus for the start of the campaign is on reliability rather than out-and-out performance.

It means the phase one engine that will be used for the Australian Grand Prix will not show the power unit's full potential, as that will have to wait until the second power units are used around the time of the Spanish Grand Prix.

Renault F1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul said that opting for an all-new concept was essential if his company was to target world title glory in the next few years – but short-term compromises would be necessary for it to not hurt its finishing rate.

In an exclusive interview with Motorsport.com, Abiteboul revealed that Renault's plan included the use of technology not seen in F1 before, but such bold concepts would not be ready for the start of the 2017 season.

"I prefer to be conservative in the expectation for the first initial running of the engine at the start of the season," explained Abiteboul.

"But definitely it is an engine that is offering the potential to cope with an awful lot of development. 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."

When asked how much of a gamble it was for Renault to deliver an all-new concept of engine next year, Abiteboul said: "It is a good question.

"Frankly 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.

"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."

Closing the gap

Red Bull has said that if Renault can close to within 3 percent of Mercedes in the power stakes – which is the deficit it had in the V8 era – then it believes it will be enough for it to fight for the title next year.

Abiteboul thought it too early to make such judgements, but said Renault's ambition went well beyond that target.

"I don't know how Red Bull is capable of projecting themselves next year," he said. "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.

"It is a very exciting time for everybody in F1. Clearly this season if they had been within 3 percent that for sure maybe would have been better, but I am not sure that would have been enough to fight for the championship. We know where they want to be.

"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 idea of technological concepts that can allow us to be better than Mercedes in the future."

shares
comments
Better form following Verstappen exit a "coincidence" - Sainz

Previous article

Better form following Verstappen exit a "coincidence" - Sainz

Next article

Vandoorne "very lucky" with timing of McLaren F1 move – Magnussen

Vandoorne "very lucky" with timing of McLaren F1 move – Magnussen
Load comments
Why Bottas feels the time has come to be “more selfish” Prime

Why Bottas feels the time has come to be “more selfish”

We’ve seen five distinct versions of Valtteri Bottas at Mercedes as he’s tried to fulfil his own ambitions while being a consummate team player – two difficult, competing missions which have been challenging to reconcile. Speaking exclusively to Stuart Codling, Bottas explains his highs and lows… and why he still believes he can be world champion.

How long can Verstappen and Hamilton keep it clean? Prime

How long can Verstappen and Hamilton keep it clean?

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have been evenly matched so far in the 2021 Formula 1 title race. Neither has been afraid to get aggressive against each other on track, teeing up an enthralling contest as the year unwinds. But how long will their battle remain clean? Jonathan Noble ponders that exact point

Formula 1
May 13, 2021
How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner Prime

How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner

The Brabham BT46B raced once, won once, then vanished – or did it? STUART CODLING reveals the story of the car which was never actually banned…

Formula 1
May 11, 2021
The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle Prime

The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle

Formula 1’s visits to Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya over recent years have been met with familiar criticisms despite tweaks here and there to the track to improve racing. With the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix largely going the same way, proper solutions need to be followed to achieve F1’s wider targets

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings Prime

Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings

Often described as Formula 1's laboratory, the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona gave the clearest demonstration yet of the pecking order in 2021. And it's the key discrepancies from that order which illuminate who is excelling, and who needs to hit the reset button.

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
How Red Bull's deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain Prime

How Red Bull's deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain

An aggressive first corner move from Max Verstappen appeared to have set the Red Bull driver on course for victory in the Spanish Grand Prix. But canny strategy from Mercedes - combined with the absence of Red Bull's number two from the lead group - allowed Lewis Hamilton to pull off a demoralising reversal

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
The Barcelona practice times that prove Red Bull has hidden pace Prime

The Barcelona practice times that prove Red Bull has hidden pace

Lewis Hamilton led the way in Friday practice for the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix, but there was one major encouraging sign for Red Bull. However, making good on that gain will require Max Verstappen to avoid repeating a mistake that left him well down the FP2 order...

Formula 1
May 7, 2021
Why McLaren doesn’t doubt Ricciardo can escape his ‘dark’ place Prime

Why McLaren doesn’t doubt Ricciardo can escape his ‘dark’ place

Three points finishes from as many starts represents a decent opening innings on paper, but Daniel Ricciardo has endured a tough start to his McLaren career - only magnified his teammate's excellent form. Yet both he and the team have good reason to expect a turnaround soon.

Formula 1
May 6, 2021