Cyril Abiteboul has admitted that Renault had to be aggressive during 2017 in order to attempt to close the gap to their engine rivals, which meant reliability was compromised, with a number of retirements coming in the final races for all three teams they supply.
Red Bull Racing may have taken three victories during 2017, but they, Scuderia Toro Rosso and the works Renault Sport Formula 1 Team all had reliability issues throughout the season.
And now Renault team boss Abiteboul apologised for the number of engine related retirements, but they needed to adopt such an aggressive strategy in order to close the gap to Mercedes-Benz and Ferrari.
“Clearly, the big negative in 2017 has been reliability, which has cost a lot – to our team, but also to our customer teams, for which I feel sorry,” said Abiteboul to Motorsport.com.
“But we had to be very aggressive in order to create the platform to complete the convergence with the other power unit manufacturers.
“It was a combination of a completely new engine, and therefore a lack of dyno mileage over the winter – we discovered some of the issues at the winter test, and also some of them at the start of the season, which was very late [for us] to react and to implement improvements.
“Later into the season, we played a little bit with the fire by unlocking new performance modes, which had some impact also on reliability, and we also had the issue that there was some cooling measure to respect that some teams struggled to follow.”
Abiteboul felt that Toro Rosso could not adapt their cooling systems to accommodate new engine operating methods, which were aimed at increasing performances, and as such the Faenza-based team suffered awful end-of-season reliability issues, which was highlighted by Brendon Hartley taking engine penalties in all four of his races as a result.
“We found new ways of operating the engine with more performance, which created the first batch of problems,” said Abiteboul. “With more mileage, we started to have reliability issues related to simply the life of the parts.
“We tried to manage that by reducing the operating temperature, which some teams managed to do, but not all teams.”