Renault to be less conservative with engines in 2018

Cyril Abiteboul, Renault F1 managing director
© XPB 

Renault has said it intends to cast aside its "too conservative" approach to engine development next season.

Managing director Cyril Abiteboul admitted that new direction will require "a big change in mindset" from people at the team in the future.

"We have always been - in the history of Renault in F1, in terms of engine development - on the conservative side when it comes to developing performance," Abiteboul told in an exclusive interview.

"It is still a handicap. We are trying to pull ourselves from that philosophy. But it is a big change of mindset that will be coming with the new people who are joining our organisation."

Renault's existing technical department will be boosted by the arrival of former FIA technical chief Marcin Budkowski as executive director in 2018.

Abiteboul said that it felt "completely counter-intuitive" to those people developing engines to put power and performance ahead of reliability. But that has ended up costing them compared to their rivals.

However, he insisted that Renault has made progress. He said Red Bull's recent strong performances demonstrated the improvement of the power unit over the course of the season.

"I think it is quite visible that in race format we've done a step forward," he said. "You have a Red Bull team that after some difficulties at the start of the season has managed to maybe create the best chassis out there right now.

"They are managing that power deficit and it gives them the ability to win.

"It is no different to actually our situation when we won the championship back in the V8 era," he pointed out. "Our engine was not the most powerful on the grid, but we managed to make it work all together."

"There is still a small deficit," he admitted. "You can argue whether it is two tenths or four tenths. It will depend on the track. But I think this is what we are talking about."

The lack of power of the current engine iteration is most noticeable in qualifying mode.

"That is for Sunday, that is for the race," he conceded. "I cannot describe a similar situation for Saturday.

"I am not capable of quantifying that clearly. But we are talking about something that is like half a second."

Abiteboul is hoping that improvements to the dyno will help narrow the gap to its rivals in both qualifying and race trim. The FIA's clampdown on the use of oil burn to boost engine performance should also work to Renault's advantage.

"The regulations are going to change and it is going to be a bit more draconian on oil combustion.

"That it is a field that we have absolutely not explored," he said. "It is a field that is not in the regulations whatsoever. Again that is our style, to be extremely fair in our interpretation. Maybe sometimes a bit too much.

"Maybe we will be supported by that evolution of the regulations into our catch-up exercise on qualifying modes."

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