Renault will be delaying the F1 engine update they had originally planned for around the time of the Canadian Grand Prix in June, to ensure they are not caught out by any reliability concerns.
The French manufacturer produced an all-new concept engine for the 2017 season, with big performance updates promised throughout the year. However, durability concerns have been raised following dyno tests on the engine, which has prompted Renault to delay the upgrade until the end of July.
Speaking to Autosport.com recently, Renault Sport Formula 1 Team Managing Director Cyril Abiteboul confirmed the decision.
“We want to do that before the summer break.
“We want to keep it in sync with the power unit integration, and we want to do that with power unit number three if possible.”
The change of plan will put Renault slightly behind the other engine manufactures in their performance upgrade timeline, with most teams looking to move to their second mark PU around the time of the Spanish or Monaco Grand Prix in May.
In addition, by the time the British or Hungarian Grand Prix comes around in July, Mercedes, Ferrari and Honda will likely have received a bigger step up and moved onto their third generation unit, ramping up their performance over the French manufacturer in the process.
Abiteboul is not worried by this fact however, and is still confident they have made the right call on the engine front this year.
“It is something that is still work in progress.
“We are touching some limitations, but we believe the concept that we have introduced this year is the right concept.
“There is innovation in the pipeline and there is performance in the pipeline. The thing we need to get under control is engine reliability; I’ve said that on many occasions.
“We know there is some fragility in the system that we need to cope with. It is true on the track and it is true on the dyno.
“It is the same thing for Honda – reliability issues are also hurting you in your development programme back to base, and that is the sort of thing that is hurting us as we speak. We need to manage that.”
The Frenchman believes there is plenty of potential still to come, that could see them close the gap to their rivals by the end of the season.
“I am not lowering my ambition to be able to cut massively the gap to Mercedes and Ferrari that is still here.
“I am not saying we are on a par with them now – but we have a plan for that.”
Customer team Red Bull Racing have been lining up the engine upgrade as a chance to move back into the battle with the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team and Scuderia Ferrari, who have edged clear of the Milton Keynes based squad at the first four rounds of the year.
That opportunity will now be delayed further, which will no doubt disappoint Red Bull bosses, and perhaps chip away at the friction, that clearly still remains between the two companies.