After a stuttering start to life with the Spec-C version of the R.E.18 engine, Renault Sport have announced that they are to build a completely new engine for the 2019 Formula 1 season.
With Honda making gains throughout the season in preparation for the start of their partnership with Aston Martin Red Bull Racing, Renault face falling behind the Japanese manufacturer and even further behind benchmarks Ferrari and Mercedes-Benz.
Previously, Renault were planning to base their 2019 engine on the Spec-C unit, but Renault Sport Formula 1 Team boss Cyril Abiteboul believes that the current structure of the engine is limiting upgrades and says that an overhaul is needed.
“It is a new engine [for 2019],” Abiteboul said, speaking to Motorsport.com. “One of the reasons for it, and why the Spec-C is not delivering more in terms of performance, is because we are not held back by the structural limitations of the [current] engine.
“Given the ambition in terms of power improvement for next year, pretty much all of the engine will be new.”
Abiteboul added that the hybrid part of the power unit has little more to extract but, like the internal combustion engine, will be subject to re-development ahead of Renault’s fourth season back as a works team. However, the Frenchman warned against complacency in planning the timeline for the new engine, with any lapses putting them on the back foot in terms of reliability and outright performance.
“Not only [the] on ERS side, because there is little power and little performance to extract there, but the rest of the ICE will be new,” he continued.
“That is why we need to be a little bit careful and that is why we need to be extremely drastic and have lots of discipline on planning and milestones to make sure that we are not putting ourselves in a difficult position at the start of the season.”
Despite showing encouraging performances and improvements on the dynamometer, Abiteboul believes that the current sporting regulations have hampered Renault’s progress. Suggesting that Renault have produced numerous improved new parts, he called the current engine component limitations per season “crazy”.
“We have covered lots of mileage on the dyno,” he revealed.
“We had two parts which were a problem this year, the turbocharger and the MGU-K. With the MGU-K, we are running, we have not had any problems so far and we haven’t seen any, either on the dyno or on the track.
“The last spec of turbos seem okay too, but they are not on all cars because of the situation where parts introduced mean a penalty.
“That is what is silly with the current regulations,” he said, continuing.
“Even if you have a better part you cannot afford to introduce it because of all the penalties and all the sporting consequences. That is crazy.
“You are spending money to improve your parts, you approve it on dyno, it is available it is built, it is there [at the track], and you cannot put it on the car.”
Previously in the year, Renault and Abiteboul had admitted that they had been surprised by the development curve of the current 1.6 litre V6 Turbo hybrid engines. Alongside the signing of Daniel Ricciardo from Red Bull for 2019, the undiscovered potential has proved to be the catalyst for change.
“What is paying the most in F1 is stability, stability of the objective, of the vision, of the organisation, of the priorities,” he mused.
“But at the same time, being brave enough to look at what is not good enough or what is not working.”
“That is exactly what I have the responsibility of doing with the rest of the management team. One thing that strikes me is that we see no flattening to the engine development curve, and that is amazing.”