Major overhaul for Renault power unit in hope to bridge Mercedes gap

With pre-season testing due to get underway this weekend at the Circuito de Jerez in Spain, Renault has announced that their 2015 Hybrid power unit has gone through a ‘fundamental overhaul’ ahead of the new Formula 1 season.

In a bid to get closer to Mercedes, the standout power unit of 2014, Renault feel they have made a significant step in the right direction after being down in power last season.

Engine manufacturers have been allowed to change up to 48 per cent of their power unit, which equates to 32 development tokens, and Renault have admitted they have used most of these tokens already, but have saved some so they can make changes during the season.

Renault’s Chief Technical Officer Rob White said the changes were necessary, and described some of the areas they had focused on to try and eliminate the performance deficit to their rivals.

“We have made some fundamental changes to gain performance and reliability,” said White. “We have upgraded every system and subsystem, with items that will give the most performance prioritised.

“The principal changes involve the internal combustion engine, turbocharger and battery. The ICE will have a new combustion chamber, exhaust system concept and variable trumpets, as permitted by the 2015 regulations.

“The compressor is more efficient, while the energy recovery systems are able to deal with more severe usage. The 2014 unit was already well placed in its centre of gravity; however we have tidied up the packaging to give greater ease of integration into the chassis.

“Additionally many systems and functions have been rationalised and simplified to further ease the task. In short, there are very few carry-over pieces between the 2014 and 2015 power units.”

Renault’s Managing Director Cyril Abiteboul insisted they knew what they had to do during the off-season, and hopes the hard work will pay off when they get back on track this weekend.

“We knew what we had to do over the winter and we know what we have achieved,” said Abiteboul. “We believe we have made a very big step in performance and will be more reliable.

“We do not know where the others will be: we may not have erased all the gaps, but we are confident that we have gone a long way to making up the deficit of last season.”

Renault will power both the Infiniti Red Bull Racing and the Scuderia Toro Rosso teams in 2015 having seen the Lotus F1 Team move to Mercedes-power, while the future of the Caterham F1 Team remains unclear.