Renault Sport F1 boss Cyril Abiteboul says the French team is once again faced with an uphill task to reduce the gap with F1's front-runners through in-season development of its R.S.18.
Last year, Renault reduced its two-second deficit to the top teams by fifty percent thanks to the regular introduction of efficient updates, but the gap has increased once again for the French squad, forcing it to rely once more on its development pace to make up the lost ground.
“Last year we managed to out-develop all teams, including the top teams,” Abiteboul told ESPN.
“We started two seconds off the pace from the top teams and we finished the season one second away from the top teams.
“OK, we are starting this year more than one second or so from the top teams, but if we also manage to out-develop like we did last year, the target that we have set ourselves of finishing half a second away from them by the end of the year is an achievable one.”
That's perhaps a tall order for Renault, given that Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull won't be freezing the evolution of their cars anytime soon, and neither will the team's direct mid-field rivals like McLaren, current 'best of the rest' in the Constructors' standings.
Abiteboul is confident however of achieving its targets.
“I think we have the talent, skills and also the resources to achieve that, so let’s see, “
“I think that we still struggle in the winter to produce a car at the level of our expectations [for the start of the season] and there is reason to that, but I am sure that by putting more work we will be able to also improve that aspect in the next few years.”