Abiteboul: Renault engine will 'close the gap', but chassis will take longer

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Renault F1 boss Cyril Abiteboul says the progress of its works outfit in 2019 will see its engine department likely move faster than its chassis unit.

Next season, Renault will embark on the fourth year of its five-year plan to return to the front of the grid, having concluded its 2018 campaign as the fourth best team on the grid behind F1's trio of front-runners, Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull.

As he assesses the current running order and what it will take for Renault to bridge the gap with its rivals, Abiteboul quantified what the team's deficit in terms of sheer power output.

"We’re missing about 15 to 20 kilowatts of engine power [20-27bhp] in the race, which under certain conditions has been made up for by the Red Bull chassis," the Frenchman told Auto Motor und Sport.

"But in qualifying, we estimate our deficit at 40 kilowatts [53bhp], and that’s significant."

For the sake of proving the relative efficiency of the team's car, Abiteboul believes the team's R.S.18 chassis would have found itself higher up the grid in Abu Dhabi had it been powered by one of its rival's engines.

"With a customer engine from Mercedes or Ferrari, we would have qualified in seventh place in Abu Dhabi," he added.

"This shows that we have a better chassis than our competitors [in the midfield], but also shows we are not as good as the three top teams.

"That’s why the main focus at first is on engine development."

Indeed, the engineers at Viry-Châtillon will be working full boar in the coming months on the development of their power unit, seeking to extract more power while preserving reliability.

"Next year, I don’t want to have to say anymore that we lacked too much power in qualifying," said Abiteboul.

"There’s no reason why we shouldn’t close the gap to Mercedes and Ferrari with the engine over the winter. With the chassis, it will take a little longer."

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