Following successful results at the in-season test session at the Circuit de Catalunya last week, Renault have confirmed they will run the new specification engine at the Monaco Grand Prix.
Both the Red Bull Racing and Renault drivers were impressed with the performance gains felt by the updated PU at the test, which helped the French manufacturer decide that it would be worth bringing the introduction of the new engine forward to the next race.
However, as the original plan was to bring the engine upgrade to the Canadian Grand Prix, Renault have not had enough time to produce four units, to accommodate both itself and its customer team. This means each of the squads will have the tough decision of choosing which of its drivers gets to benefit from the new unit in Monaco. Neither team has confirmed its decision as yet, but it is thought that they will select the driver that is currently ahead in the championship.
For Red Bull that means Daniel Ricciardo, which will leave recent race winner Max Verstappen with a performance deficit to his team-mate across the race weekend. A tough call for the Milton Keynes based squad after the Dutchman did so well in his first race after being promoted to the Red Bull team. Ricciardo does however have the most experience of the two drivers, and has so far shown the most promise, despite a number of unlucky incidents beyond the Australians control, and is likely to put the engine to best use in Monaco.
For Renault it is likely to be Kevin Magnussen that receives the upgrade, having scored the team’s only points at the Chinese Grand Prix, when the Dane put in an impressive performance to finish in seventh place. The former McLaren man also currently appears more at ease with the RS16, whilst team-mate Jolyon Palmer has struggled to find the right balance at times.
Renault Engine Chief Remi Taffin, advised when speaking to motorsport.com, that he believed the new unit would give them around half a second per lap.
“The power unit we have used since the first race in Australia was really a continuation of the work started in the ‘Spec D’ power unit we introduced at the tail end of 2015. We explored some concepts in that earlier iteration and the 2016 unit took them further, for example, in the turbo.
“This new spec goes even further down the line and also includes significant modifications to the combustion system. It will make the ICE more powerful but also efficient, leading to a gain of around half a second per lap.
“We’ve used a small proportion of our token allocation for this upgrade.”