Sainz ready to trade penalty hits for engine performance

Carlos Sainz says he will have no problem taking engine grid penalties in 2018 if the sacrifice helps his Renault F1 team make long-term progress.

Sainz ready to trade penalty hits for engine performance
Carlos Sainz Jr., Renault Sport F1 Team RS18
Carlos Sainz Jr., Renault Sport F1 Team
Carlos Sainz Jr., Renault Sport F1 Team R.S. 18
Carlos Sainz Jr., Renault Sport F1 Team R.S. 18
Carlos Sainz Jr., Renault Sport F1 Team RS18
Carlos Sainz Jr., Renault Sport F1 Team
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Team boss Cyril Abiteboul has said the French manufacturer is considering factoring in grid penalties by deliberately using more than this year's reduced limit of three elements per season.

That strategy would allow Renault to extract more performance more consistently, because of reduced mileage requirements, and it will also create extra opportunities to introduce planned upgrades later in the season.

"For me this is a minor thing in the whole year," Sainz told Motorsport.com.

"When there's a rule that you can use only three engines for the whole season, and you are a team that is not worried about 2018, you are worried about being world champions in 2020, you need to make progress.

"And to make progress you need to put engines on the track and test them, and try to put the performance on them.

"It's a reminder that this is a team that's using 2018 as a development year, and in a development year you need to bring new things into the pool, and start testing.

"It might not be ideal, but we're not fighting for the world championship, so it's not like starting last one race is going to change things."

Sainz acknowledged that while Renault closed the gap in 2017, it is a moving target, as Mercedes and Ferrari have continued to develop their engine packages.

"With three engines through the year, it's very difficult to cover that gap," he said.

"This way, you get more upgrade opportunities [by using more engines], so that's precisely why they are doing it.

"I didn't expect it to be announced so early, but I already heard the rumours.

"I'm happy, because it means the team really wants to progress. They are not worried about reliability, it's just about performance."

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