Renault's F1 engine chief Taffin departs company

Renault stalwart Remi Taffin, who was the French car manufacturer’s Formula 1 engine technical director, has left the company.

The Frenchman has been part of Renault’s F1 programme since 1999, and early in his career worked as an engine engineer for a host of drivers including Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button.

In 2009, Taffin stepped up to take overall control of Renault’s F1 activities and then from 2014, at the start of the current turbo hybrid era, he became director of operations.

From 2016, as Renault ramped up its involvement in F1 and returned to grand prix racing with its own works team, Taffin was promoted to become engine technical director and was tasked with pushing forward its powerunit development.

While Renault had endured its fair share of frustrations during the early turbo hybrid era, it did make progress to help Red Bull achieve a number victories, and most recently powered Esteban Ocon’s Alpine car to success in Hungary.

But as Renault continues work on an all-new powerunit for 2022, which it hopes will allow it to close the gap to the benchmark Mercedes and Honda engines, it has emerged that Taffin has departed.

A spokeswoman for the Alpine team confirmed to Motorsport.com that Taffin left Renault at the start of July by 'mutual agreement'.

It is understood Renault is not looking for a direct replacement, and instead plans to divide Taffin’s former responsibilities amongst current staff.

'Painful' strategic choice

Although Renault’s current power unit performance is behind its main rivals, the engine is effectively now in its third season due to enforced delays in the introduction of its new design.

Speaking earlier this month, Alpine’s executive director Marcin Budkowski said the situation was not perfect, but there remained optimism about its engine plans for the future.

“We've had the same engine we're using for the third consecutive year, with very, very small changes in 2020 and 2021,” he said. “It's a 2019 engine we are using, and as a result some of our competitors made gains that we haven't.

“The choice was driven by the fact that we were planning to introduce a whole new engine in 2021, together with the new chassis regulations. The chassis regulations have been delayed. We have also delayed introduction of that new engine to 2022 because unfortunately, with the factory closures and the working from home requirements we had last year, we were just unable to deliver it for 2021.

“So we're in a slightly non-ideal situation where we had to delay our new power unit, which has improvements to propulsive power and energy management, and the kind of usual things that make you quicker on a straight line. It has also a new architecture and changes that are designed to address some of our weaknesses compared to our competitors.

“We didn't have the resources to relaunch the development programme on this year's engine and continue to work on the 2022 engines. We decided to put all our efforts on 2022, so it's a strategic decision.

“I believe it's the right one but it's painful, because as a result this year we lost ground compared to our competitors.”

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