Renault Sport Formula One Team believe planned engine upgrades should provide enough pace to not only catch, but overtake, the top teams, Cyril Abiteboul revealed.
Renault have made a much better start to the season than last year, taking twenty-five points in the first three races of 2018 compared to just two points in 2017’s first three races.
Likewise their two customer teams – Aston Martin Red Bull Racing and McLaren F1 Team – have also made strong starts, and currently sit third and fourth respectively in the Constructors’ table (ahead of Renault in fifth).
Both Renault and Red Bull achieved their best results at last week’s Chinese Grand Prix when Renault, having assessed their engine’s reliability over the first two races, allowed teams access to more performance from the engine.
Abiteboul has previously commented that Renault must accelerate their speed of development to remain competitive this year and, talking more about their development plan, mentioned that he believes the pace advantage it will bring will more than close the gap to the top teams.
“We are talking about a substantial amount of in-season development. It is more than the gap we have now, in my opinion, from the top teams, certainly in the race at least.
“But obviously top teams, top engine suppliers, they are not going to stop there.”
Though he wouldn’t admit when these upgrades would arrive, he did say the team had plans for as early as the Spanish Grand Prix, in two races’ time.
Commenting on where the additional power and upgrades are coming from, Abiteboul said that it’s both from the way the engine works and from hardware – though he doesn’t want to be able to add new hardware too soon.
“There are a couple of improvements in the way we are operating the engine and that’s more in qualifying. There will be a bit more coming, but obviously the next proper improvement will be with hardware upgrade.
“That’s not going to be before we introduce power unit number two, which I hope will be as late as possible.”
Whilst Red Bull are not too distant during races, Abiteboul acknowledges that qualifying a real area for improvement.
“We are exploring every possible avenue to mitigate that deficit. The first thing is to find what can make the difference there.
“I think the gap in qualifying [in China] was a bit less than it’s been before. Again, it’s still not enough and there is more to come.”