Renault insists it won't sacrifice power for reliability

Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) Renault Sport F1 Team RS18
© XPB 

Renault Sport F1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul has refuted reports that the French manufacturer is planning to play it safe in 2018.

There had been concern in some quarters - notably from Red Bull boss Christian Horner - that Renault is compromising power and performance in order to meet 2018's new three-engine rule.

But Abiteboul says that's not the case. He insisted that Renault would start the new season with the same power output it displayed in Abu Dhabi.

"It will be comparable to the end of last year when we were using it at its maximum potential," he said.

“Abu Dhabi was the best trade-off between performance and reliability," he stated. "That's what we want to target for the start of the season - in terms of performance available in particular."

But Abiteboul admitted that reliability remained a big priority for Renault.

“I accept the fact that the emphasis has been put on reliability for the obvious reason," he said. "One thing we tend to forget is that reliability and competitiveness and performance go hand-in-hand.

“In particular last year we had to downgrade the power potential massively - the performance potential of the engine - because of the reliability situation.

"The target this year is indeed to start the season first reliably," he commented. "That will allow us to make full use of the potential of the engine, something we were not capable of doing last year.

"It's a no-brainer that this is what you have to put as a priority," he continued. "But again, the key message is that the fact that reliable components open up more options in terms of performance.

"You cannot [split] performance and reliability. The two go together, and when you work on reliability, you work on performance also."

Even so, no team on the grid is confident of making it through the entire season on only three engines. Abiteboul revealed that the team is already thinking about how to handle the issue of grid penalties.

"If it's better for everyone to use four power units or four V6s, rather than three, we may take that decision. But it's really too early to talk about that."

Overall, Abiteboul was left ruing the 'damned if you do, damned if you don't' situation Renault now found itself in.

“Being an engine supplier is the worst job in the world," he said. "When you're not reliable, you're not reliable. And when you are reliable, you're not competitive enough!"

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