Renault ready for new approach to unleash 'magic modes'

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Renault is ready to adopt a different mindset for 2018 in terms of how aggressive it pushes its Formula 1 engines in its bid to unleash 'magic modes' that boost its qualifying efforts.

While the French car manufacturer has made good gains overall with its power unit this year, it is well aware that it is still lacking a lot in terms of delivering extra performance on Saturday afternoons.

Its inability to ramp up its engine settings much in Q3 means that rivals Mercedes and Ferrari have proved dominant in the fight for poles in recent years.

In an exclusive interview with Motorsport.com, Renault F1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul says his company is working hard on lifting its qualifying performance – and reckons it has perhaps been punished in the past from being a little too conservative in what it has done in F1.

"It is something that is completely counter-intuitive for engine people – to accept to create performance to the detriment or expense of reliability," he said. "And it has never been the philosophy of Renault to do it like that.

"We have always been in the history of Renault in F1, in terms of engine development, on the conservative side when it comes to developing performance.

"I think it is still a handicap. We are trying to pull ourselves from that philosophy, but it is a big change of mindset that will be coming with the new people who are joining our organisation."

Half-a-second gap

Renault believes that the small deficit it has in race pace now is within an acceptable level - whereas it knows the 0.5-seconds it loses to Mercedes in qualifying needs to be addressed.

Abiteboul added: "I think it is quite visible that in race format we've done a step forward, in the sense we have reduced the deficit.

"There is still a small deficit which in my opinion, you can argue whether it is two tenths or four tenths, and it will depend on the track. But I think this is what we are talking about – between two and four tenths in race mode.

"Definitely it is the type of deficit which the best chassis are able to handle. That is why you have a Red Bull team that after some difficulties at the start of the season has managed to maybe create the best chassis out there right now, and they are managing that power deficit and it gives them the ability to win.

"But it is no different to actually our situation when we won the championship back in the V8 era. Our engine was not the most powerful on the grid, but actually we managed to make it work all together.

"They created a fantastic chassis and we managed to win four titles in a row, so we are going back to a situation which is almost a situation very well known between Red Bull Racing and Renault, and that was actually successful. But that is for Sunday, that is for the race.

"I cannot describe a similar situation for Saturday. It is going back to this: how do we accept to create performance to the detriment of reliability, and we are not there yet. I am not capable of quantifying that clearly, but we are talking about something that is like half a second."

Oil burn clampdown help

Abiteboul says that progress on Renault's dyno at its Viry base is delivering some positive news, and he thinks matters will also be helped by a further clampdown on oil burn in 2018.

"We have a lot of performance on the dyno, but as I said earlier it is performance that will be available at any moment, including on Sunday. So that is great news, as it means the performance we have on the dyno should put us in a very, very decent position to say the least against Mercedes on a Sunday.

"Right now, we are still handicapped by whether we can allow ourselves to create performance at the expense of reliability – which is what I believe what we will need in order to catch up on Saturday.

"Having said that, we also know the regulations are going to change and it is going to be a bit more draconian on oil combustion.

"That it is a field that we have absolutely not explored because it is a field that is not in the regulations whatsoever. Again that is our style, to be extremely fair in our interpretation – maybe sometimes a bit too much.

"So, maybe we will be supported by that evolution of the regulations into our catch-up exercise on qualifying modes."

When asked if he felt the FIA's push to limit oil burn this year had helped pull Mercedes and Ferrari back, Abiteboul said: "We have seen an evolution when there was a TD introduced, I think it was before the summer – we have seen something.

"But we have seen again that they have managed to rebuild an advantage since then, so it is really interesting to see the dynamic that is pure F1. There is a new rule, a new TD, it has an impact on relative competitiveness and then again, I think things are again moving again."

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Teams Red Bull Racing , Renault F1 Team
Article type Breaking news