The association between Renault and Ilmor did not happen because of the insistence of Red Bull Racing, according to Renault’s managing director Cyril Abiteboul.
Mario Illien was initially brought in as a consultant by Red Bull to help with a new cylinder concept, but Renault decided to go a different way with its design, but now Illien has been drafted in by Renault to help with future developments.
The upgraded engine package Renault first brought to the United States Grand Prix and was only used once by Daniel Ricciardo during the Brazilian Grand Prix in 2015 did not bring the performance gains required, and Illien’s input will hopefully see those gains to enable them to close the gap to the Mercedes and Ferrari power units.
Despite Red Bull’s involvement with Illien towards the end of 2015, Abiteboul has denied the multiple championship winning squad had any say in Ilmor’s involvement with its engine department.
“It’s very simple,” revealed Abiteboul. “It is an association between Renault and Ilmor, and there is no implication.
“I have to respond to some media who said that it was something imposed by Red Bull, or was something only for the benefit of Red Bull. It is not at all the case.
“I have always said that yes, there was nothing from Ilmor that we used at the start or at the end of the  season, but it did not mean that we were not impressed by the capacity of Ilmor to bring some positive stuff to the table.
“That is the basis that our head of engineering decided to continue the relationship with Ilmor, but slightly in a different manner.
“What he is doing is extending our engineering capacity and also making an extra dyno available, so we can scale up our development capacity and catch up quicker.”