Renault mulling four-engine strategy for 2018

Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) Renault F1 Team
© XPB 

Renault is considering using four engines this season, rather than sticking to the permitted three power units per driver.

The regulations have been tightened up this season, giving each driver one less change of engine components than 2017. Many teams are sceptical of achieving this efficiency - and Renault might not even try.

Auto Motor und Sport reports that Renault may advise its teams to plan to use four engines instead. That would mean planning when to incur the resulting grid penalties.

"The balance between reliability and development for more power is incredibly hard to find," explained Renault Sport F1 boss Cyril Abiteboul.

It's not just reliability at stake, More engines also means being able to introduce new units with improvements and upgrades faster.

The proposal has met with support from Dr Helmut Marko, motorsports consultant for Renault customer team Red Bull.

"If you strategically plan the penalties, you will not lose so much," he said. "We started from the back in Monza last year and finished fourth."

"If you're a racer you'd plan with four engines," concurred Red Bull technical director Adrian Newey. "The benefits are greater than the disadvantages."

Mercedes and Ferrari have already ruled out a four-engine approach to the season.

"A penalty means you lose a race and that can cost you the title," said Mercedes engine boss Andy Cowell.

McLaren sporting director Eric Boullier said that he would make his own call on the number of engines his team will use.

"We will do what is best for us," he stated. "We will see where we are and then decide. But the question of three or four engines is definitely up for debate."

Renault has already been struggling for reliability in pre-season testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. A "bad batch" of batteries struck both McLaren and Red Bull customer teams on Tuesday.

"By regulation, each driver gets two units per year," explained Renault technical chief Bob Bell.

"That’s what they are designed to do. That’s a pretty heavy duty cycle for them, and the importance of making sure they are completely fault-free is critical.

"What we do ahead of Melbourne is that we try and shakedown all of the battery systems to make sure all of the stock that are going racing are in good shape."

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