Renault Sport F1 Head of Track Operations Remi Taffin believes Renault have made good progress in reliability and drivability over the last two races and feel confident about their chances in China.
Taffin claims Renault feel more confident following the test in Bahrain and that drivers should feel a noticeable improvement in drivability. “At the test in Bahrain we tested several new software modes that will see us closer to the limits of the Power Unit than before.
In the past three races we have been some way from the edge of the performance envelope but these new modes should see us running more to the extreme.”
Taffin also revealed that Renault are concentrating more on improving race modes as opposed to qualifying performance, as they believe bigger steps can be taken with race performance.
“We have been working on the energy management per lap, particularly in the slow corners. We know we are missing out on the straights but these new steps have given us greater traction in the turns, which should extend tyre life and give greater flexibility on strategies.
The greater part of our work has been concentrated on race modes and performance – this is where the bigger steps can be taken, rather than in qualifying.”
Taffin hopes that all these improvements can put them closer to the front in China, even though the long straights historically make Renault powered cars more vulnerable.
“All of these improvements should put us a bit closer to the front. Of the first four races, it is one of the most difficult. The long straight is of course the major feature of the circuit, but we believe the steps taken in testing will make us less vulnerable.”
In order to make the Renault powered cars less vulnerable on the long straights Taffin says they will be focusing their efforts for energy recovery on the MGU-H rather than the MGU-K.
“There are also some tricky mid to slow speed corners in Shanghai such as the first ‘snail’ corner. This and the two hairpins give some opportunity for the MGU-K to recover energy under braking but the focus for energy recovery will be on the MGU-H and that long straight.”