Mercedes produced the dominant power unit in 2014, with the works team comfortably winning both the drivers’ and constructors’ championships. Renault endured a tough start to the season due to reliability issues during testing, but recovered to win three races over the year and Abiteboul is confident the engine manufacturer can take a big chunk out of Mercedes’ advantage.
"We estimate that our gap to Mercedes at the end of the 2014 season was about 60 horsepower," Abiteboul told Canal+. "We hope to close this gap by half at the start of the season in Melbourne. Unlike Mercedes, we will start the 2015 season with the 2015 version of our engine.”
With three wins all scored by Daniel Ricciardo for Red Bull last year, Abiteboul has targeted success on a more regular basis in 2015, saying: "My goal is to claim at least five wins this season."
While Renault, Mercedes and Ferrari plan their power unit development without having to freeze the engines at the start of the season, Honda is waiting to learn how much freedom it will have to develop throughout the year. The FIA has allowed limited development for the new supplier – with the average number of tokens left unused by the other three being available to Honda – and Abiteboul says Renault has made a number of changes already.
"To date, we have used about two-thirds of allowed tokens (32) to change our engine this year.”
Renault will supply engines to Red Bull and Toro Rosso this season, with Caterham in administration and Lotus having switched to Mercedes.